Corporate / Design & Technology
Breathing life into a car December 28th, 2007
By Chil-Young Kwon
Production Management Team
Kia Motors Corporation
First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude for the interest shown in my first posting. Today, I’d like to write about how cars are born, much like humans. You may know this already, but cars also have lives. They begin to exist the moment they are born.
Just like individuals are shaped by countless combinations of genes, cars are also fashioned by options chosen by customers and formed by different parts. At our plant, the life of a car begins with the introduction of the pressed steel plate on the chassis line. During the chassis process, once options data are delivered to our department, all vehicles assume a unique genetic makeup. As I wrote in my first posting, all these different parts, even bolts, go into building a car to provide numerous options. What is meaningful is that the answers to questions like ‘will the car have holes in its back?’ ‘what color will it be?’ and ‘what kind of tires will it have?’ are already decided when the vehicle enters the chassis manufacturing process.
The fact that a car begins production according to options ordered by a customer can be considered a merit of the car. Most other manufactured goods tend to be ready-made. For example, cookies, TVs and shoes. No manufacturer will mass produce an item according to individual preferences, but automobiles are produced with the options that a customer selects. Kia Motors is readying a system in which each dealer can register online the demands of a customer so that the manufacturing plant can receive the option details through the Internet. This convenient system is enabling us to respond speedily and accurately to a customer’s desires. The customer feels like they are getting a product tailored to their specific wants.
The auto manufacturing line is also a very democratic system. No matter how urgent an order, once the order is entered into the chassis line, it will take at least a day for the finished car to roll out of the plant. It’s a lot like how water pumps work.
Before the cars in front exit, those in the back cannot meet their owners. That is how the line of the auto plant works.
Additionally, car plants are equipped with buffers that prevent the line from coming to a stop in the case of unforeseen accidents. As seen in the diagram, there are two buffers: WBS and PBS. WBS acts as a storage space for car bodies which have taken on the form of chassis. PBS is a gathering place for ‘dressed bodies.’ Both play crucial roles.
Kia Motors made diverse attempts in constructing the Hwaseong Plant. To raise efficiency, we operate a press shop, two paint shops, two chassis shops and three assembly lines. Generally, auto plants have a press shop, chassis shop, paint shop and assembly line. However, this does lead to inefficiencies due to the fact that they all have different UPH. In that respect, our Hwaseong Plant is a model example of trying to overcome the differences in operational capability.
The fact that cars are democratic, manufactured goods which reflect what I want. The fact that a car is the largest manufactured product an individual can own, with the exception of airplanes and boats. These two reasons are probably behind man’s desire to posses a car.