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LG to build 'smart plant' in Changwon

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LG Electronics' home appliance and air solution business President Song Dae-hyun, right, with officials from Changwon City and South Gyeongsang Province at the 63 Convention Center in Yeouido, Seoul, Wednesday, after signing an agreement to establish a smart plant in the city by 2022. / Courtesy of LG Electronics
LG Electronics' home appliance and air solution business President Song Dae-hyun, right, with officials from Changwon City and South Gyeongsang Province at the 63 Convention Center in Yeouido, Seoul, Wednesday, after signing an agreement to establish a smart plant in the city by 2022. / Courtesy of LG Electronics

Electronics firm vows to invest W600 bil. until 2022

By Yoon Sung-won

LG Electronics will renovate its home appliance plant in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, into an eco-friendly smart factory. It will invest 600 billion won in this project through 2022, the electronics company said Wednesday.

The nation's second-largest electronics maker said the new plant will be completed in 2023 and will produce kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, water purifiers and dish washers.

Alongside the new plant, which is under construction in Tennessee, the Changwon plant will be the first LG Electronics facility to have smart manufacturing systems.

On Wednesday, LG Electronics' home appliance & air solution business head Song Dae-hyun met with officials from Changwon City and South Gyeongsang Province to sign a contract to invest in the plant renovation project in the region.

The city officials also promised to provide administrative support to this project as it is expected to create more jobs there, boosting the regional economy, according to LG Electronics.

"We will continue to invest in the Changwon plant to make it an outpost for the global premium home appliances market as well as a driving force of the regional economy of Changwon and South Gyeongsang Province," Song said.

LG Electronics said the smart plant will have advanced manufacturing systems based on the core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as internet of things (IoT), big data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, the firm hopes that it will be able to quickly respond to changes of demand in the global market.

The company said the new plant will concentrate on producing large-sized premium kitchen appliances targeting global markets.

"Our first Changwon plant started operating in 1976 and has been optimized to produce small- and mid-sized products," an LG Electronics official said. "Considering that larger home appliances are taking center stage in the market, the existing manufacturing facilities are not enough to boost productivity for the future."

As of now, the first Changwon plant is capable of producing up to 2 million units of home appliances in a year. Once it is fully renovated, the maximum capacity is expected to go up to 3 million per year.

The smart plant will have what is called the "modular design" system, which allows the company to flexibly change its manufacturing plan to crank out diverse types of products.

To compensate for the downtime during the transition period, the company will purchase extra plant sites near the second Changwon factory before the new smart plant is completed.

LG Electronics is also planning to hire about 250 workers every year for its Changwon plants. In particular, it expects that the introduction of intelligent manufacturing systems will require more talented and skillful workers.

"We currently have about 8,000 workers at the two plants in Changwon and will need many more employees for the expanded manufacturing capacity," the LG official said.

LG Electronics said the new manufacturing facilities it plans to introduce are projected to consume 40 percent less energy than the ones in operation now and will be able to stand severe natural disasters. To this end, the company will build solar power energy panels, energy storage systems and advanced heating and air-conditioning systems.

Meanwhile for its second Changwon plant, which has churned out home appliances such as washers, vacuum cleaners and air conditioners, the company will tentatively keep it as it is.




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