When Bridgestone invited me out to a Commercial Tire Boot Camp a few weeks back now to share parts of their well-founded enthusiasm for the new high-efficiency/durability Ecopia tire line — complete with complementary Bandag FuelTech retreads — I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Part of the day included a plant tour down at their Warren County, Tenn., truck tire manufacturing plant, a giant facility — 46 acres under roof on a 906-acre property in total, part of which includes a wildlife refuge area and local educational center. It’s where Bridgestone’s North American market truck tires are built.
The second part of the day was closer to my Nashville home — in La Vergne, Tenn., the company’s retread plant is also home to the North American Manufacturing Education Center, where Technical Training Solutions Manager Randy Hanson (pictured) ran through the company’s educational facilities for franchised dealers, customers and manufacturing process students. The center offers three basic classes, Hanson said, including an “advanced tire analysis class” covering “basic tire construction, then a series of 54 tires that exhibit conditions of failure — they’ll go through using our book and analyze what caused the failure.”
For more senior personnel, there’s likewise what amounts to “a Master’s degree in retreading” start to finish, also complex “maintenance troubleshooting for dealer franchises to help keep their equipment running.”
Below, find a photo gallery from the tour with Hanson, from the tire-failure analysis facility through to some new developments. (Something to think about as you page through the shots — in 2010, during the Nashville flood you saw so much about here on the blog, before the facility was fully outfitted it also had the misfortune of being inundated by a few feet of water. Lots of work done since that time, wouldn’t you say?)