LG Electronics’ groundbreaking state-of-the-art Clarksville, Tenn. washer plant which opened this spring was simply the latest in a long streak of appliance manufacturing highlights for the brand. In fact, standards-setting in white-goods production is nothing new for LG, Dealerscope learned during its recent tour of the company’s washer/dryer and refrigerator manufacturing facilities in Korea..
Including the U.S. and Korea, LG now operates 12 facilities worldwide for washer production in Poland, Russia, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
It all began in 1967, when LG became the first company to make a washing machine in Korea. Fast forward to 2003 - LG’s inaugural year of exporting appliances to North America. Since establishing that overseas market foothold here 16 years ago, the brand has continued to carve out and deepen its position in appliances.
Now, it is fully leveraging its design and engineering expertise front and center, via its luxury premium Signature series of standalone products and its built-in Signature Kitchen Suite, into dominant market presences that are establishing benchmarks in both tech innovation and design aesthetics.
Inside the Factories
Changwon Factory #2, as it’s referenced, produces not just washers and dryers but also cordless and robotic vacuums, as well as the category-setting LG Styler, an allergen-reducing, odor-eating clothes closet that freshens garments between dry cleanings, and even sanitizes kids’ plush toys.
Seven production lines populate the building and every 10 seconds, one new washer or dryer rolls off the assembly line, making for a total of 2,500 to 3,000 units produced per day. All lines including the washer and dryer lines manufacture an average of 20,000 products per diem and five million products each year, for both domestic consumption and export to 170 countries.
In the plant, we were witness to stringent quality control procedures, both automated and also reinforced by a team of red-vested QC checkers who perform visual inspections.
Production responsibilities are shared: 60 percent of tasks are handled by humans while the balance of the line is automated.
The thousand employees on the facility’s two floors work an 8-to-5 shift, with an occasional ramp-up of weekend production scheduled when needed. They are aided by robotic AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) that shuttle components and materials along established routes on the factory floors.
An LG spokesman said that about half of the facility’s production volume is exported while half is destined for domestic sale. Workers are trained anywhere from one to eight weeks depending on the job assigned them, and are rotated periodically from one job to another. Flexibility is also a hallmark of the operation; we were told that production of washers and dryers can be adjusted, for example, to accommodate the addition of new lines such as for LG Styler production.
Not far from Factory #2 is LG Changwon Factory #1. Primarily a refrigerator production factory, it also makes Signature air purifiers and refrigerators dedicated to storage of the Korean spicy cabbage dish kimchi. It will also handle production of the latest LG Signature Wine Cellar, due out in the fall.
The Signature refrigerator line produces a finished product end to end in two hours, and as in the washer factory, workers are schooled in different skills and rotated to different tasks on a regular basis. The factory spokesman said a new building with enhanced automation functionality was being readied at the location for ramp-up in 2023.
Stay tuned to dealerscope.com for more reporting from our LG media tour.