CHANGWON, South Gyeongsang Province ― A group of Korean journalists was recently invited to tour one of LG Electronics’ plants for dehumidifiers and air conditioners where work was in full swing to make sure consumers had access to the products before monsoon season hits Korea.
We were immediately exposed to a mechanical cacophony, with grinding conveyor belts running along the 120-meter assembly lines combining with the noise of the automatic screwdrivers, packaging machines and automated vehicles to create one big numbing sound.
Every 12 seconds, the factory produces a unit of LG’s best selling dehumidifier model, Kalahari, named after the desert in southern Africa, while every 15 seconds it churns out one Whisen air conditioner ― the Son Heung-min special edition ― named for Korea’s national football team striker.
|LG Electronics employees move boxes of LG Whisen dehumidifiers at the company’s factory in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. (LG Electronics)|
Since the dehumidifiers and air conditioners share a number of common production processes they can be assembled on the same lines, which allows production to be adjusted depending on market demand.
Currently, six out of 10 assembly lines at the plant are allocated for the production of dehumidifiers.
LG started to fully operate its production lines for dehumidifiers starting in April, three months earlier than last year, as this year’s sales are expected to more than double. The dehumidifier market is expected to stand at 2.5 million units.
The tech giant said its main focus for building dehumidifiers is on energy efficiency, noise levels and localization.
“The amount of energy consumed by each dehumidifier is quite small, but it could rise collectively as the sales rise,” said Simon Chin, a vice president of the R&D laboratory of the company’s air-conditioning and energy unit.
The product’s noise level is equally important, he added, as consumers often leave the dehumidifier on in the bedroom while sleeping.
The noise level of LG’s Whisen inverter dehumidifier can be lowered to 31 dB in sleep mode, which is about as loud as a cooling fan inside a PC.
Chin said that he and his R&D team have video conferences every day with executives and researchers not only in Korea but also in global markets including China and India.
LG officials said they mainly discuss how to better localize products in the global markets in which the dehumidifiers are launched.
Since each nation has different geographical and weather conditions, the products should be engineered to cater to the unique functions and designs of each region, they said.
The same kind of guidelines apply for air conditioners, for which LG has made a name for itself in the global home appliance market, with accumulated unit sales passing the 100 million mark a few years ago.
Park Jae-hyoun, vice president of LG’s air conditioning production division, noted that the company’s fool-proof production system had effectively cut down on unnecessary manual jobs to increase efficiency.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org