The COVID-19 pandemic situation has caught many businesses on the back foot, and among those devastatingly hit were those within the manufacturing industry. As a result, many manufacturing companies, including the biggest and strongest ones, had to adjust and revise their current business models, setups and structures to be able to weather out the crisis. The latest manufacturer to succumb to the impact of the global health crisis is Japanese multinational tire maker Bridgestone Corp., which announced the temporary closing down of 11 of its local plants along with eight of its tire factories for a period of 10 days.
It's been more than weeks since the state of emergency was declared in the country and temporary closures and shorter working hours are expected to continue, especially in the automotive and restaurant segments.
Starting April 29 to May 8, Bridgestone will halt production in these plants, among them its main plants in Amagi, southern Japan, and in Hikone, western Japan. Its Amagi plant produces radial tires for trucks, light trucks, and buses while its Hikone facility creates radial tires for passenger cars and light trucks.
The company has 15 manufacturing plants in total in Japan, and around 180 plants and research and development (R&D) facilities worldwide. It sells its tires and rubber products in more than 150 countries around the globe.
Bridgestone had initially planned to shut down the said plants from May 3 to 6 only, during the celebration of Japan's Golden Week, but due to a weakening and sluggish demand, has decided to lengthen the temporary closure of its factories by six more days.
Prior to this, the tire manufacturing giant has already ceased operations from April 16 of 19 of its tire factories overseas. This decision to suspend production in some of its main plants is Bridgestone's way of coping with the dwindling production needs.
Production at the majority, if not all, of assembly plants in Japan, had been either reduced or suspended sometime in February this year, leaving large automakers like Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., and Honda Motor Co. with no choice but to also either decrease or halt their production. Recently, Toyota, and its group of companies such as Hino Motors Ltd., made additional cuts to its production figures at the company's domestic plants in Japan. Likewise, Honda recently announced a stoppage of production at its two plants in Saitama Prefecture starting April 27 up until May 10 due to stalled delivery of parts. Like a domino effect, these production issues involving vehicle manufacturers are affecting its supply manufacturers, including tire manufacturers like Bridgestone.
There's no clarity as to the tire company's plans after May 8. Its decision to reopen the plants or keep them closed for a longer time frame will most likely depend on the situation at that time. Without a vaccine yet for the coronavirus, everything is uncertain, and we can only hope that this health and economic nightmare will end soon.