Bridgestone Americas has opened its new Advanced Tire Production Center (ATPC) in Akron, Ohio. Home to 60 expert tire builders and manufacturing professionals, the ATPC will manufacture all Firestone Firehawk race tires for the NTT Indycar series.
The US$21m facility will be the tire maker’s new home for race-tire production, including new constructions and the redevelopment of existing structures. Located across the street from the Bridgestone Americas Technology Center, one of three major R&D centers for Bridgestone globally, the 7,450m2 ATPC features state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and will also be used to produce small batches of specialty, prototype tires for testing and development purposes for racing and on-road applications.
“The new ATPC is a reflection of our proud history in Akron and racing while also exemplifying our company’s vision for sustainability in all aspects of our business,” said Paolo Ferrari, president and CEO of Bridgestone Americas. “For more than a century, Akron has been where our most advanced tires have been conceived, designed and built, and now we are furthering this legacy in a more sustainable production environment where the world’s best engineers, technicians and master tire builders will shape the future of tires and racing.”
The new ATPC uses 60% less energy than the company’s previous race-tire manufacturing facility. Design and specification enhancements contributing to the increased efficiency include a more compact building footprint, insulated roofing, a more efficient boiler system and high-mounted LED lighting throughout the plant. Furthermore, Bridgestone has purchased carbon offsets to cover the balance of its energy use to achieve carbon-neutral operations at the ATPC, supporting the company’s global goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The ATPC is one of a series of investments Bridgestone is making in its Akron operations. In November 2021, the company announced a US$6m investment for the construction of a new test track adjacent to the ATPC to support passenger tire testing and development. The test track is scheduled to be completed in autumn 2022. Bridgestone has invested more than US$125m in its Akron operations since 2012, when the company opened the Bridgestone Americas Technology Center.
More than 25,000 Firestone Firehawk race tires made in Akron are supplied to the NTT Indycar series each season. Part of Bridgestone since 1988, Firestone has been the exclusive tire supplier for the open-wheel racing series for the past 23 seasons. In addition, Firestone will become the sole tire supplier for Indy Lights starting in 2023, and the ATPC will manufacture all the tires for the series.