Dundee's Michelin plant celebrates 40 years of tyres

Media caption,
Up to 7,000,000 car tyres are made each year at Dundee's Michelin plant

Scotland's only tyre manufacturing plant has been marking its 40th anniversary.

Michelin is now Dundee's biggest industrial employer, with some 800 staff working at the site.

The French firm temporarily shut down production at the plant earlier this year.

The creation of a further 140 jobs has been delayed until the economy improves, but the company insisted it will continue to invest in the city.

The plant sits on a sprawling site on Baldovie Road in the north east of the city.

Long service

Up to seven million car tyres are shipped out of the factory each year.

Some of the 800 workers at Michelin Dundee have been with the company from day one, including technical manager Bill Cruikshank.

He started as an apprentice a year before the factory opened in 1972, and said the new factory still had some teething issues.

Image caption,
Michelin is Dundee's biggest industrial employer, with 800 staff at its Baldovie Road site

He added: "Even in 1972 it was still a bit of a building site, there was no road or walk ways we were walking on planks."

Ian Kerr has also been with Michelin for all of its forty years in Dundee.

Secret projects

He is one of a team who has helped secure the future of the site in Dundee, working on the latest generation of car tyres designed to reduce fuel consumption.

He said: "We worked on the project for about three years. We worked secretly then went to France, put together the finance, the justifications, and eventually secured the project for Dundee."

But the Dundee plant has not escaped the financial downturn.

It stopped production for three weeks in May and Michelin's planned investment of £50m in the UK has been temporarily put on hold.

Personnel manager Ian Peart is realistic but confident about the future.

Ready for upturn

He said: "There is no doubt that 2013 will remain very fluid, a very challenging year in the same way 2012 has.

"Our plans remain on track. What we need to do is just recognise that the rate of change of progress may slow because of the demands on the markets, but we need to be confident that we're ready when the markets pull and that we have the people and the equipment ready to exploit the market when the world economy does pick up."

The company is planning for the future. Cat MacLean is one of 25 apprentices and is determined to become an engineer.

She said: "My dad's an engineer and brother's studying to be an engineer, it is kind of like a family thing.

"I've always heard just good stories about Michelin, so I thought why not come here?"

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