The Power of Reliability

During a tour of Bridgestone Warren County Plant in Morrison, Tenn., TVA employees got a chance to witness the power of their mission in motion.

Employees who normally help generate electricity at TVA for the more than 9 million people who live and work in the Valley also can say they help move the economy of the United States.

A recent tour of the 1.9 million square-foot/46-acre Bridgestone Warren County Plant in Morrison, Tenn., showed 17 TVA Generation, External Relations and Communications & Marketing employees how the reliable power TVA produces is used to make truck and bus radial tires.

Those tires carry goods to stores and materials to manufacturing plants throughout the

“As you can imagine, reliability of power is everything to us,” said John Stewart, plant manager of the Bridgestone Warren County Plant. “An outage or variation in power could force us to scrap many thousands of dollars of product. So, we appreciate everything TVA does to ensure we receive reliable electricity, 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.”

The Bridgestone Tire Warren County Plant is part of Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Bridgestone Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation—the largest tire and rubber company in the world. The plant, which employs more than 1,100 people, is directly served by TVA with enough electricity each year to power 11,000 homes.

To help ensure the plant’s continuous operation, TVA employees have worked to reduce lightning and storm damage—the main service disruptors in the area—to ensure electric service reliability to the plant remains high.

Gaining Critical Context

“I never realized how even a small sag in power delivery could bring an entire facility to a halt and cost a huge amount of money in terms of lost time, product and revenue,” said tour member Meredith Delk, mechanical system engineer in TVA’s Generation Services organization.

Seeing the volume of tires that Bridgestone employees produce—and learning how the tires the facility makes help move the country’s economy—Delk shared that the visit provided her with a unique insight into the importance of the work she and other Generation employees, as well as those who work in Transmission & Power Supply, do. “I can clearly see how we, at TVA, directly impact not only our industrial customers, but also help support individual jobs across the Valley—and even businesses across the country,” she said.

TVA Industrial Marketing & Services Account Manager J.T. Long added that the TVA Generation employees who saw the Bridgestone facility operation gained critical context around the importance of their work in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“Producing power that is available 99.999 percent of the time is hugely important to our industrial customers, and to companies all across our service region,” Long said. “Seeing how workers in other industries make their living with the power we produce at the lowest-feasible cost illustrates our responsibilities to the people who live and work in the Valley.”

One of Bridgestone’s top-performing factories, the Bridgestone Warren County Plant has a long history of best-manufacturing practices—in 1993 it produced nearly 2,500 tires each day and shipped its one-millionth tire only three years after it opened.

The plant now produces, on average, 9,100 tires each day.

In addition to its TVA-served Warren County Plant, Bridgestone has three facilities within TVA’s service region served by local power companies.

How Bridgestone Makes Tires

Making tires in the 1.9 million-square-foot/46-acre Bridgestone Warren County Plant begins with raw materials. Carbon black, oils, natural rubber and metals are some of the 17 different components that go into a tire.

First, Bridgestone employees measure ingredients received from around the world and put them into a three-story-tall, 2,000-horsepower machine called a “banbury,” which mixes them into massive sheets of rubber.

The sheets of rubber then are moved to the extruding area, where they are broken into pliable, component parts that include “fabric”—steel cable coated with rubber—and the bead bundle, the rigid rubber-coated wire loop that connects the side wall of the tire and wheel rim. The tread is made separately.

During the final stages of the manufacturing process, skilled employees use computer-driven machines to assemble the tire components into a “green tire” that is heat-cured and inspected for quality. Each tire then is placed into the only automated tire warehouse in the United States at the Warren County Plant before being shipped to distributors for use on commercial trucks and buses across the United States.