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Firestone Tire Recall

Essay by   •  October 30, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  3,093 Words (13 Pages)  •  3,431 Views

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Mission Statement:

The Firestone Company is committed to being a good corporate citizen nationally, regionally and especially in the communities where we have manufacturing plants, sales facilities or offices. Our corporate philosophy is to build not just better products, but better communities.

Firestone traces their roots to the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in 1900. Harvey S. Firestone started tire production with twelve employees in Akron, Ohio. In Japan during 1931, Shojiro Ishibashi created the Bridgestone Tire Company. Bridgestone is proud to carry on the blending of Japanese and American methods to provide quality products. Their philosophy is to serve society with superior quality and best today but still better tomorrow.

In August 2000, there was a recall of Bridgestone/Firestone tires. The company recalled its 15 inch ATX and ATX II tires, plus 15 inch Wilderness AT tires. The recall involved more than six million tires. A federal investigation found at least 88 deaths and more than 300 accidents involving Bridgestone/Firestone tires that had shredded on the highway. The majority of the accidents held the same situation of the driver maintaining a speed of 65 miles per hour, the tires shredded and the rubber peeled away from the rim. Most of the tire failures involved Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles. These accidents occurred after tire treads peeled off, causing tires to burst and malfunction then drivers lost control of their vehicles which resulted in crashes and turnovers. The tires involved are made up of many different materials layered around an inner shell. The outermost layer is the tread, which covers two layers of steel cords. This tire recall was the second largest in history; it also raised a significant social responsibility and ethical issues for both Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone companies. Firestone's last major tire recall nearly bankrupted the company in 1978, and led to its acquisition by Japanese-based Bridgestone. As with the recall announced, it involved abnormally high tread separation, resulting in accidents and deaths. Most of the tires involved in the recall were produced at Firestone's Decatur, Illinois plant. Poor quality was named as one of the main causes of the failures, and many proposals were advanced to strengthen and update regulatory procedures.

I think that Bridgestone/Firestone tire recall is complicated and extensive problem. The companies involved needed to explain why they knew about the problems but continued the sale of those products. The Firestone Company has a social responsibility to ensure the safety of its consumers. The tires seem to have a defect that causes the tread to separate form the whole of the tire and roll the vehicle, this occurs especially in the Ford Explorer trucks. In some of the cases fatal accidents have occurred from the rollovers. These companies need to understand that immediate action needed to be taken place to resolve issues and prevent more from occurring. This is the social responsibility of the Bridgestone/Firestone Company.

This product recall affects the stakeholders; these consist of groups in Bridgestone/Firestones external environment. The groups are the employees, customers, social and political groups, competitors, trade and industry associations, governments, media, suppliers, communities, shareholders, and unions. These groups are significantly influenced by the organizations decisions and actions. These groups can also influence the organization, and impact the decisions and actions of Bridgestone/Firestone managers. Bridgestone/Firestone organization should care about managing the stakeholders' relationships because it can lead to other organizational outcomes such as improved predictability of environmental changes, more successful innovations and greater organizational flexibility to reduce impact of changes. The consumer demands from an ethical point of view, a safe and worthwhile product. The problem was serious, since it killed passengers of many vehicles involved. This product of tires was also sold overseas. This impacted both Ford and Firestone because it put further consumer doubt into stakeholders.

As early as the 1990's the indications of defects in the Firestone tires have appeared. In August 2000, a Firestone spokesperson announced that the company was being sued 51 times. A spokesperson for Ford said that no judgments have been awarded against Ford. Martin Inglis, the vice president of Ford North America said that Ford had tested the Firestone tires at its desert proving grounds in Arizona but had never witnessed such a failure. In 1999, Ford began receiving troubling reports from overseas markets. Ford received complaints of the suspected Firestone tires failing suddenly at high temperatures and under heavy loads. To the response of heavy complaints Ford replaced Firestone tires on more than 46,000 of its Explorer vehicles in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Thailand, and Malaysia. Mr. Inglis stated, "The incidents overseas seemed incidental," and that Ford didn't understand what the issues were in the United States. Ford officials said they had been looking at reports of tire tread separation on Ford Explorers for some time. At the time of the recall one official stated, "It didn't just happen in the last 10 days."

The root causes of the tire tread separation have been determined. An analysis of evidence shows that the tires fail because they are poorly designed. The design problems are founded by poor quality control in the tire manufacturing process. The design of the tire at the belt edges in the area around the wedge is insufficiently strong for the loads applied by the Explorer at the inflation pressures that are recommended by Ford. Firestone has never addressed the fact that the wedge gauge in thickness is unusually small and that the placement of the wedge length has a direct impact on durability of the tire at the belt edges. Also, reduced tires weight in the mid 1990's resulted in the insufficient coverage over the belt edges between the tires tread block pockets. The material removed from the tires to reduce weight restricted the engineer's ability to specify a durable belt edge design with a smooth changeover from the inflexible belt edges to the flexible upper sidewall. The tire may have performed somewhat when produced precisely to specification and operated lightly loaded and at the maximum inflation pressure. The failure indicated that the design was unacceptable when the tire was exposed to the Explorer loads and the weight restriction that occurred during production. Ford and Firestone ignore the fact the weight reduction in the tire was directly related to the fact that the Explorer was so poorly designed that its wheels would not stay on the ground during anticipated turning maneuvers.

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