NOKIA, Finland—Nokian Tyres P.L.C. reports an $82 million, 3-year expansion of commercial tire production at its headquarters plant in Nokia is back on track after falling behind schedule, company officials said recently.
Nokian expects the 38,000-sq.-ft. research and development center, dedicated to doubling the number of new products and speeding up the time-to-market, to be operational by year-end, according to R&D director Kalle Kaivonen.
Watching the project take shape has been one of the most exciting parts of the endeavor for those involved.
"Seeing it on a screen is one thing," Matti Kaunisto Development Manager at Nokian Tyres said in a statement, "but being able to walk there is another. The size gets lost in the computer screen, but once you stand there you really sense the space."
The heavy tires business—which includes truck, farm and OTR tires — accounted for 11.8 percent of Nokian's sales of $1.81 billion last year, up from 11 percent in 2017.
As for the expansion project: "The building is erected, and the installation of the machinery is in full flight," Plant Director Pasi Antinmaa said, adding that the installation of "highly automated" visual inspection and tire buffer storage areas are scheduled for August when the factory is on its scheduled annual maintenance break.
Kaivonen noted that tire testing and production planning are better integrated with the addition of the R&D center on site.
"Our biggest R&D stakes are in the agricultural segment, where it's all about making the most out of existing farmland in a sustainable way," Kaivonen added.