Chang­ing face of Miche­lin Dundee

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - GRA­HAM HUBAND

The sprawl­ing Miche­lin Dundee fac­tory oc­cu­pies a 70-acre site at Bal­dovie.

The French group first re­vealed their plans for the Dundee op­er­a­tion on July 2 1970, in a twin an­nounce­ment which also out­lined pro­pos­als for a steel-cord pro­duc­tion unit at Red­moss in Aberdeen.

It later tran­spired the firm had an op­tion on a site at Kirk­caldy and had ap­plied for plan­ning per­mis­sion to build the tyre fac­tory at Hunt­ing­tower near Perth, but that ap­pli­ca­tion was re­fused.

The Dundee fac­tory took two years to build and pro­duced its first tyre – a 165-13 ZX tube­less ra­dial – on November 6, 1972.

Miche­lin faced var­i­ous eco­nomic chal­lenges down the years, most sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the late 1970s and 1980s when it was forced into a ma­jor re­struc­ture by suc­ces­sive en­ergy crises, mas­sive over­ca­pac­ity and the emer­gence of global mar­kets .

How­ever, the lo­cal fac­tory was not im­mune to market forces and, in a bid to off­set crip­pling en­ergy bills, it in­tro­duced its iconic twin wind tur­bines in 2006.

But by the late 2000s, hun­dreds of jobs hung in the balance as Miche­lin’s board called for the fa­cil­ity’s clo­sure.

It sur­vived through a last-minute re­prieve and, in November 2011, then First Min­is­ter Alex Sal­mond de­scribed Bal­dovie as a ‘fac­tory of the fu­ture’ as it se­cured a multi-mil­lion-pound cash in­jec­tion and saw 140 new jobs cre­ated.

The man­age­ment team led by John Reid went on to se­cure suc­ces­sive rounds of new in­vest­ment from Miche­lin cen­trally, in­clud­ing a multi-mil­lion-pound pack­age signed off af­ter the UK voted to leave the Euro­pean Union in 2016.

In to­tal more than £60m has been in­vested in the fac­tory in re­cent years.

The cash was spent on a 20,000 square me­tre ware­hous­ing fa­cil­ity to store 700,000-plus tyres and a new elec­tri­fied pro­duc­tion line to make next gen­er­a­tion low rolling re­sis­tance tyres.

Money was also spent on in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing new roads, path­ways and site ground­works, due to its vul­ner­a­bil­ity to flood­ing from the Dighty Burn.

Cash was also spent in an­tic­i­pa­tion of link­ing the fac­tory to the new Bal­dovie waste to en­ergy plant, which is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion on a neigh­bour­ing site.

The plan was to fur­ther off­set Miche­lin’s huge car­bon foot­print by us­ing power and heat gen­er­ated at the new plant to un­der­pin the man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

In 2016, a con­fi­dent air had re­turned to the fac­tory and it was de­clared fit to serve for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Un­for­tu­nately, that re­newed sense of op­ti­mism was shat­tered when the clo­sure de­ci­sion was con­firmed – 46 years to the day af­ter the first tyre rolled off the Miche­lin Dundee pro­duc­tion line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.