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Marketing Management third-year students treated to a Bridgestone SA plant visit
14 June 2017

On 5 May 2017, twelve third-year Marketing Management students – one representing each Practical Project team – set off to Brits, North-West, to learn how Bridgestone’s portfolio of tyres are produced from start to finish at the plant. The students were transported in a Bridgestone-branded bus, and received complimentary cooler boxes with various snack items for the journey. These were greatly appreciated.

The Brits plant produces tyres for passenger vehicles, bakkies, and trucks. The plant was opened in 1971 and to date has produced over 100 million tyres. The factory runs 24/7 to keep up with demand.

The plant tour was presented to two groups, with lunch served between the two sessions. Before the start of the tour, students were given a safety briefing, and provided with earphones and safety vests. Students found the tour guide, Dries Venter, very knowledgeable and approachable, and he patiently answered the many questions from the students.

Mr Dries Venter (BSAF) with Mr Marius Fischer (student)

The tour began with a discussion of all raw materials involved in production, which proved to be fascinating. Also of interest was to learn that Bridgestone has its own rubber plantations to supply natural rubber for tyre manufacturing. The students further learned that quality control is very important to Bridgestone. For example, when trucks deliver to the factory, they go through a two-day quality check process.

The tour included seeing the three different mixers involved in the manufacturing of the rubber for the different parts on a tyre. Each mixer is guided by specific scientific formulas, from which the various tyre types are manufactured, and quality checks done to ensure the required quality. Finally, completed tyres are sent to the warehouse to be processed and sent to distribution centres or direct purchasers.

The students found it very interesting that Bridgestone produces additional products, such as the film on touch screens and solar panels, bicycles and bicycle tyres, golf balls, and certain parts on aeroplanes.

The students indicated that they could truly experience the atmosphere of Bridgestone during the plant tour, which is focused on creating high-quality products, as stated by a sign in Bridgestone’s factory, reading “Bridgestone is committed to quality, teamwork and ownership”.

Group 1 along with lecturer Ms Laureane du Plessis (bottom left)

The students were very appreciative of the experience, as it has really broadened their minds regarding the tyre manufacturing industry.

A few quotes from students who attended the tour:

“I didn’t have any interest in tyre making or anything tyre related, but the plant trip opened my eyes to how much time, precision, and craftmanship goes into tyre making. It was a really intriguing and interesting experience.” – Lynn Kareithi

“The visit to the Bridgestone plant really opened my eyes as to how tyres are probably one of the most vital things when it comes to driving safety. It was a privilege to be part of the expedition and to have received such a warm welcome from Bridgestone.” – Marius Fischer

“It was interesting to see exactly what goes into creating something we consider to be such an ordinary object being brought to life. The tour really opened my eyes to the tyre and rubber industry and the experience of it all will always remind me to work hard for something.” – Hayley Pott

“At first, I wasn’t very keen on going because it’s a tyre plant. I was so HAPPY that I went. It was so interesting and informative and I really enjoyed it. Thank you, Bridgestone, for everything.” – Jeanie Horn

“The trip to Bridgestone completely changed the way I think of an ordinary tyre, from a piece of rubber to a pure technical design of excellence.” – Ruan Brouwer

- Author Department of Marketing Management
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Last edited by Liesl OosthuizenEdit