Continental Tires Timisoara exceeded 180 million tires manufactured in Timisoara, following investments of over 400 million euro, in its 16 years of activity. Besides technology, the company also invested in employee training, environmental protection and social responsibility programs. The tires plant in Timisoara is the first and most important investment of the Continental group in Romania.
Sorin Samonid, General Manager of Continental Tires Timisoara, talks about the company’s investments, its employees, and the part it plays in the local community of Timisoara, in regards to the environmental protection measures and CSR projects.
Continental Tires has over 16 years of activity and has manufactured about 180 million tires. How did the financial results of the company evolve?
As you said, Continental Tires manufactures tires in Timisoara for 16 years and in this time our financial results have been in line with the market, but it would not have been possible without the investments we made in making this company more effective.
What did you invest in?
The investments focused on high technology, training programs for our employees, environmental protection and on supporting the local community.
What does better technology mean?
Annually, Continental Tires Timisoara manufactures over 14 million tires and the company’s portfolio includes a wide range of tire sizes ranging from 13 to 20 inches, ultra-high performance tires, tires for light commercial vehicles (VAN) and tires for electrical cars. That being said, we cannot afford to deliver anything else than great quality products for our clients, so a part of our investments focuses on improving production technologies in order to provide these good products. Also, one of the goals of the company is to diversify the production, and this year we added a new line of premium 20 inch tires, of very high performance, for top performing cars.
Who are some of your customers?
Our customers are car manufactures, such as Jaguar, Dacia-Renault, General Motors, Fiat, Ford, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai and others. Our factory mainly produces the Continental brand, which is the premium brand of the company, and we also focus on producing brands such as Barum, Gislaved, Semperit, Uniroyal and Viking, among others.
What is the level of production in Romania compared with other countries?
Among the companies that are part of Continental Group, Continental Tires Timisoara has the third largest production in Europe.
What about the investments regarding the company’s employees?
Our company has over 2,500 employees, being one of the largest employers in Timisoara. Besides offering very competitive salary benefits, we try to invest as much as we can in training programs for our employees. We focus a lot on the career development training for our employees, and we are always on the lookout on how to improve the training experience for the new colleagues. Beside trainings for further career development, we also offer to our employees trainings in other areas such as communication, leadership, personal development and health seminars.
Did the productivity of your employees increased as a result of the training programs?
Of course. Through the ACTTIV program (a virtual simulator for training the new employees in production) we managed to reduce work errors by 25% and to increase operating efficiency of new employees by 45%. Also, in regards to productivity, we try as much to invest in automation and ergonomy, so that our employees can have a safer and more effective workplace.
What are some ergonomy and automation projects you invested in?
Ergonomics is defined as the science of designing the workplace, the equipment and the working methods that suit the operator/employee the best. The ergonomy of the workplace is one of the strategic objectives of Continental Tires Timisoara, and it goes hand in hand with the automation of the production process, so we tried to incorporate the two ideas, making our plant, whether we are talking about machines or processes, a much more ergonomic workplace. In that regard, recently we started a program which is an initiative of our company in creating a standard for the analysis of workplaces. The project led by one of our colleagues joins together a team of specialists to come and train our local team on how to analyse and classify workplaces based on ergonomy aspects.
Among the projects we invested in are what we call the High Bay Storage, a smart storage system that we implemented in order to make the storing system more automated and friendly for our employees, which means that the entire storage system is operated by AGVs (automated guided vehicles) instead of classical forklifts. We also implemented LOTO, short for Lockout/Tagout, a safety procedure used in order to make sure that the machines are isolated properly and secured against accidental restarting.
Whether is a leak management project, a new stock management program or a more ergonomic design of our plant, we try to invest in these measures because in order to increase the productivity we have to make the workplace a friendlier and safer place for our employees.
What do you think about the new generation of workers?
At Continental Tires we show interest in the new generation through partnerships with the Polytechnic University that helps the company to find talented engineers eager to work at Continental Tires. The Dual Education system is a good example, being a program that allows students in vocational schools to make their technical studies both in the school and in to take part in technical training sessions from the tire factory specialists.
What about social responsibility? How much do you invest in regards to environmental issues?
Our social responsibility programs also include significant investments in the latest technology for environmental protection. The most recent project surpassed 10 million euro and managed to reduce by 80% the perception of odour outside the plant perimeter. We also contributed to programs for environmental development of the county, such as tree planting events and natural area clean-up actions.
Continental Tires plays a major role in Timisoara, both economically and socially. How do you support the local community?
Beside environmental issues, our company also engages in programs that support the local community, targeting health, education and culture. Every year we support campaigns for education and environmental information and awareness among children, as well as adults. Also, last year, Continental Tires completed the renovation and modernization of the Department of Paediatrics of the hospital “Victor Babes” in Timisoara.