Inside a South Korean Manufacturing facility: How a New Product Makes It to Your Residence

Inside a South Korean factory

LG Changwon manufacturing unit (Credit score: LG)

It’s definitely enjoyable to unwrap vacation presents, particularly these long-awaited tech-focused devices that make our lives less complicated or extra entertaining. However have you ever ever taken a second to ponder precisely how these thrilling new purchases get from the design stage to the doorstep? The intricate logistical ballet that should happen for a product to be prepared for the marketplace when customers are most able to half with their hard-earned money is the holy grail of outlets and product builders.

Final month, I explored precisely how issues transfer from the design stage to the purpose of buy by visiting the LG Signature factories in South Korea, the place lots of the model’s hottest merchandise are made. Among the many merchandise I bought an opportunity to see inside have been the LG Signature OLED TV (which might flex, can connect magnetically to partitions, and is the width of simply three bank cards), the LG Styler (which steam-refreshes garments and is utilized in non-public properties, golf and well being golf equipment, and lodge rooms worldwide), and a formidable LG Signature washer…

The journey of every product from ideation to your property can take years. Right here’s what it appears like, as illustrated by the particular journey of the washer:

LG Changwon factory (Credit: LG)

LG Changwon manufacturing unit (Credit score: LG)

All of it begins: Analysis and improvement
Focus group testing and shopper analysis, the place the journey begins, are important items of the LG pipeline. Explorations of the financial feasibility of a brand new product and market wants start as many as 5 years earlier than a product is launched on the market.

LG Signature, the luxurious arm of LG’s line of merchandise, focuses on creating aesthetically pleasing, high-quality merchandise that eradicate any pointless accoutrement. The goal is premium, high-end customers, and so value is much less of a spotlight. Smooth and enticing showpieces are the purpose.

On this analysis stage, LG Signature initially excludes engineers from its conferences in order that it might probably discover real shopper ache factors earlier than addressing value or improvement constraints. As soon as an concept is in movement—for a reimagined washer, for instance—the manufacturing group enters the fold and makes use of detailed sketches to find out how 1000’s of particular person elements will come collectively through orchestrated meeting traces.

The group should examine every thing from the load and measurement of potential merchandise (since gadgets are shipped globally through freight planes, vehicles, ships, and trains) to regional habits that may have an effect on the best way folks in several elements of the world use and expertise a brand new product. For instance, LG Signature’s washer is produced with completely different types of buttons and instructions to be used. Merchandise headed for the U.S. have English phrases inscribed on the buttons, whereas Europe-bound merchandise could have pictogram directions since there are such a lot of languages spoken inside every particular area.

LG Changwon factory (Credit: LG)

LG Changwon manufacturing unit (Credit score: LG)

Early on, LG Signature’s washer analysis discovered that time-strapped households wished a machine that allowed them to be extra environment friendly whereas separating delicates from different gadgets within the wash. The dual-wash system the group got here up with options an ordinary compartment for garments and a separate drawer for different gadgets that may be washed concurrently. If you end up saying, “Why didn’t I consider that?” keep in mind that the manufacturing group could not have considered it both had the analysis part not invited potential prospects to debate their ache factors.

As one other instance, analysis individuals stated that they typically didn’t know the way a lot detergent to make use of for lighter hundreds, which was resulting in intensive waste. The corporate responded by designing expertise that tells customers how a lot detergent to make use of relying upon the load that has been positioned inside. Focus group individuals have been additionally irritated about not realizing how lengthy it might take for a load to be completed, so designers created app expertise that may sync with home goods to alert customers when a load of laundry is full.

LG Changwon factory (Credit: LG)

LG Changwon manufacturing unit (Credit score: LG)

To the manufacturing unit line…
The manufacturing unit meeting traces are marvels of effectivity and years of cautious examine. Within the case of the washer, it might probably take greater than 80 white-gloved staff to yield one product. Within the Changwon (South Korea) manufacturing unit I visited, there are a dozen traces in every constructing devoted to a special product.

Robots zip across the manufacturing unit flooring following marked traces on the bottom to ship gear and elements between stations. Nevertheless it’s not solely machines that do the work, as there are 98 particular person human duties required to take the washer into its last type.

The folks accountable for these duties rotate positions to stay alert and on course. High quality assurance groups monitor the method and pull random gadgets from the road to check them. Hanging overhead, giant show screens present info on the day’s manufacturing numbers, the variety of detected defects, and progress towards every day manufacturing targets.

Manufacturing traces should function in line with a set schedule to satisfy hourly and every day targets. At predetermined occasions of day, the lights change off throughout the manufacturing unit indicating that it’s time for a compulsory break. At these occasions, staff can calm down and eat. Caring for staff is simply as essential to product high quality as assuring that the meeting line is reaching targets at every stage of the method.

LG Changwon factory (Credit: LG)

LG Changwon manufacturing unit (Credit score: LG)

Boxing, supply and prepared on the market
As soon as absolutely assembled, every product is boxed up rigorously. Particular consideration is paid to what seems on the prime of the field (and so what might be seen first by somebody opening the field for the primary time) and safety towards the injury which may consequence from all of the attainable methods the packing containers is likely to be stacked throughout transport. Crammed and sealed packing containers are then positioned on vehicles to be shipped or flown throughout the globe. Lots of your favourite merchandise have extra frequent flyer miles than you do!

Earlier than sending their new merchandise abroad, firms are sometimes required to ship pattern merchandise to authorities inspection businesses for native compliance assessments. This have to be factored into the manufacturing and supply time, and may vary between just a few weeks to so long as a 12 months. It may take as much as three weeks for a few of LG Signature’s merchandise to make the switch from Asia to the U.S., the place one other few days are required for customs clearance. (Think about that the following time you’re deciding whether or not or to not pay for expedited transport.) As soon as the merchandise arrives on the retailer on the market, retailers should observe particular tips concerning how every merchandise is displayed.

Lastly, the washer is obtainable for buy—the end result of the preliminary analysis, collaboration and onerous work in a South Korean manufacturing unit that started a number of years earlier. As the vacations method, think about the journey that our washing machines, laptops, cellphones, tablets, and wine coolers have made to deliver a smile to the faces that get to unwrap them.

After buy: A word on safety advantages!
Don’t neglect that if you buy gadgets with sure bank cards, you’re eligible for substantial buy safety advantages ought to any of your gadgets malfunction or turn out to be misplaced or stolen inside a set time period (often as much as three to 4 months after buying a product). (Regular put on and tear or theft from an vehicle are sometimes excluded, nevertheless.) Moreover, some playing cards even prolong the traditional guarantee lifetime of sure merchandise by an additional 12 months as an added perk.

Buy safety can sometimes cowl as a lot as $10,000 per declare relying upon your bank card. Which means that you’ll be absolutely reimbursed for the price of a broken merchandise or supplied with a substitute. Some playing cards with wonderful buy safety advantages embrace the American Categorical Gold Card and the United Mileage Plus Membership Card.


Ramsey Qubein

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