Bridgestone Europe (BSEU) is headquartered in Brussels and is a key regional branch of the Tokyo Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of tires and other rubber-based products. Bridgestone Corporation and its subsidiaries employ over 140,000 people worldwide and have 178 branches in 25 countries. Bridgestone’s products are sold in over 150 countries. One motor vehicle in five is equipped with Bridgestone tires. Bridgestone was founded in 1931.
For several years, Bridgestone Europe has been in charge of strategic planning and new product development.
Tire manufacturing is under enormous pressure from the automotive industry. More than ever before, car companies seek to shorten the time it takes to bring new tire models to market. Each tire variety has its own specifications, and as a result BSEU designs and produces 600 different modules, which amounts to a total of 15,000 tasks that have to be scheduled over a three-year planning horizon.
After having initially invested in an internal planning solution, Bridgestone Europe finally settled on PlanningForce to manage the development and production cycles of its tires.
BSEU had invested in the development of an integrated platform, the goal of which was to combine short-term and long-term planning. Nevertheless, program development took a long time, was very expensive, and failed to yield the expected results.
And so Bridgestone Europe turned to PlanningForce to provide the functionalities that they were seeking in the platform and to manage the development and production cycles for its tires, for both the short term and the long term.
Two phases were organized to ensure success as PlanningForce joined up with Bridgestone Europe.
Phase 1 began with modeling the 600 products and the production capacities of European factories involved in the production processes. Once the model was created, PlanningForce’s calculation engine was able to generate scheduling that could meet the automobile manufacturers’ very tight deadlines, while maintaining resource use within operational limits.
Phase 2 focused on integrating PlanningForce into the different existing information systems so that they would have the information needed to get tasks underway and so that they would receive input on the progression of tasks in progress and on new projects yet to be planned. With the help of bi-directional interface, the steering cycle loop was closed and to a large extent automatized. Managers can now at any moment see clearly how projects are progressing and are able, by using the simulation tool for example, to take the necessary corrective action needed to maintain pre-determined trajectories, in spite of the realities of day-to-day operations (cf. the PDCA cycle + simulations).
Bridgestone Europe is now in full command of its entire design chain: from initial orders to the delivery of new tires, and it can do so over its entire planning horizon, which extends several years out into the future.
Processes were optimized at all levels: strategic, tactical and operational.
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