While the manufacturing facilities at Bridgestone’s Johannesburg (BSSA) branch have currently been suspected due to South Africa’s, the country’s small, medium and large (SML) commercial units continue to food and medical supplies sorely needed are delivered on time around the country.
Bridgestone Providing Service During South Africa's Lockdown
With Ramaphosa, the President announcing a lockdown of all non-essential services, in March, due to the pandemic, many were worried about transportation being affected. Fortunately, deliveries for medicines and foods continued, although what of tyre services during this period?
Vernon Slack, executive manager of Bridgestone’s SML fleet explained to SA Treads magazine how technicians were on-hand to ensure a smooth transition.
“While we shut down our trading stores to adhere to Government regulations, we still have to service several commercial customers such as Afrox, which delivers oxygen to the medical field,” Slack says. “We also support Shoprite’s logistics network based at its depots around the country and Lieben Logistics, which transports shipments for all the Pick n Pays along the coast of South Africa.
“We managed to get our back office and administrative staff to work successfully from home, but we needed to ensure that the workers deployed on site would have the necessary support to work efficiently and safely,” he says.
Bridgestone devised its support service by having an on-site servicing team, able to offer daily vehicle performance care at premises of its customers, as well as an on-road breakdown team linked to their 27 commercial stores, providing nationwide coverage. Due to the length of some stretches of road such as Harrismith branch of the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban, teams could travel as far as 150km in one direction and over 200km for the Bloemfontein team. 100 BSAF service specialists, made of up 60 on-site technicians, with 50 on standby reported for duty.
“We collect batches of tyres each week that need retreading and bring out teams to the plants to complete the work, then close the plant afterwards,” says Slack. “We have to be as efficient as possible and in cases where new tyres are needed, we have adjusted our stock inventories through careful management and planning.”
“While we can’t replenish tyres through our manufacturing sites, which are closed, we are able to make use of the import market when absolutely necessary. The entire operation is managed by our teams of call centre agents, administrative staff and sales teams working hard from home.” It is clear that, faced with the prospect of a lockdown, Bridgestone diversified its operations to make sure South Africa stayed safe under the Covid-19 pandemic.