Design & Technology

Same exterior, different specs November 26th, 2007

By Chil-Young Kwon
Production Management Team
Kia Motors Corporation

Hello, my name is Kwon, Chil-Young and joined Kia Motors earlier this year.  I work in the production management department and my job has to do with specifications. To explain further, it involves categorizing the various cars that go through the assembly line so line workers can add the proper parts into each vehicle coming down the line. I help ensure that the right parts are supplied for each car model.


The cars shown in the photo above all feature different options. I hadn’t realize there were so many different variations until I started working in production management.

The basic features of a car depend on the needs of each country, while various options are offered to meet diverse customer needs. This explains why automakers produce many variations of vehicles. After realizing the many varieties, dependant on the country and grade, I started to worry. “What had I gotten myself into!,” I thought to myself.  Taking into account the basic features, country-specific features and options, there are tens of thousands of possibilities, “How do the assembly line workers distinguish between the varieties and accurately produce the finished product?” It didn’t seem like an easy task to assemble the countless variety of cars with the right parts, even for the most experienced veteran.

I found the answers to those questions as I learned more about BOM, our production management system.

Kia Motors launched the BOM system early this year. In addition to management innovation, Kia has been building the next generation BOM system over the past six years with the goal of realizing annual cost savings of 20~30 billion won (USD 18-28 million). BOM, which stands for Bill of Material, is used to manage and share information about a product from its creation all the way to its disposal. It is regarded as an essential system for the manufacturing sector, especially for ships and automobiles.

The following example will help understand the BOM system. Even with something as small as a pen, it can be divided into its front and back ends. Taking that one step further, the front end can be divided into the tip and ink tube while the back end comprises of the body and tail.


Dividing a product into segments and numbering each component has many effects. Let’s take a three-color ballpoint pen, for which 81 varieties can be made using four components. By breaking up the pen into segments, a worker just needs three numbered categories. A system such as this effectively enables tens of thousands of car varieties to be identified as a simple combination of codes.

The system just blew me away!

The BOM system also enables inventory planning and management. Through parts classification, it is able to identify inventory, per order volume and price for each parts supplier.

All cars manufactured at a plant have a code combination. Every effort is made so that most codes are unique and can be easily identified by assembly workers. That’s why this kind of work requires brainwork. There are still limits to having a computer combine codes and take into account the numerous options available.

The Kia plant makes and revises codes to improve work efficiency. In this way, it produces cars with accurate specifications everyday. Even one wrong code means many cars have to be re-assembled. Because of that, we take pride in our work, and heighten production accuracy.

The BOM system was adopted to meet the diverse needs and preferences of consumers. Production managers make codes, a task that cannot be done by a computer, to ensure accuracy in the car production process. Production management represents the harmony created by people and is the highlight of the manufacturing process.

  • Charlie

    Thanks for aiding me in garnering more knowledge and insight in regards to the complexities of modern automobile manufacturing technologies and logistics!

  • Hi Mr. Chil-Young Kwon.

    My name is Ramesh, I hold the position of Product Manager with KMC’s UAE distributor. I am involved in ordering etc.

    It is good know the insights of Car Assembly procedure and the importance of ensuring the right option going into the car according to the orders of the different country.

    Lately, we have noticed that the from Job#1 (2008 MY), the option code & OCN keeps changing so often and it is not consistant. May be, it should be kept consistent as far as possible, so that it makes the ordering staff at distributor level, much easier. However, the new system, BOM, is much much better and hope to have a much improved version soon.

    Best regards.

  • Shin Jung

    It gives some information to customers! I think it’s very good trial!

  • david mckee

    hi mr chil young kwon thankyou for the information about the bom system could you please tell me were that photo was taken of the kia sportage were do the kia vehicles get loaded in korea do you have a plant near the sea also how many cars can fit on a ship and how long does it take to get to australia i own a kia rio 2001 it is a great car it has 125,000 on the clock and goes like the clappers very happy with it will definatly buy kia again kind regards david mckee

  • david mckee – Kia cars get loaded in Pyungtaek. Kia’s Hwasung plant lies near Pyungtaek. We use Eukor vessel, currently the world’s largest vessel which can accommodate maximum 7,200 units of Rio. Normally its capacity is 3400 units. To Sydney, we load 1,000 units and it takes 15 days after leaving Korea.

  • Michael Choo – International PR Manager

    david mckee – To add on to what Chil Young said, our Hwasung plant actually lies on the Yellow sea and much of it sits on reclaimed land. Unfortunately, the water is too shallow for large container vessels to dock, otherwise we would be able to ship our cars literally from the backyard of the plant. But since Pyuntaek Port is only about a 15 minute drive from the plant, this arrangement has worked very well for Kia over the years.

  • Well it would seem the KIA production line in Slovakia hit the wrong button when my Sportage was made this year. I bought a new Sportage XS automatic diesel model. It should I believe have had a flip up height adjustable centre arm rest. But it does not have this fitted, instead it has a low set arm rest more suited to a manual version.
    Now I seem to be having trouble getting it changed to what it should be uner the warranty. I bought the Car from a UK dealer called hendry.

  • Boris

    Dear Kia Buzz Editor,
    Could you include this site (actually a blog) into the Links box?
    Its also a blog like this site.

  • Boris

    Thank you for adding Kia-World to the LINKS list :)

  • Stephen Kitson

    In response to andiecamper, here at Kia Motors UK we are aware of the mis-fit of the adjustable armrest – its the only one we have discovered – and moves are being made to get this sorted under the Sportage’s warranty – we are simply awaiting the arrival of the appropriate parts and the work will be done as quickly as possible. It was a bit of an unusual one!

  • Laptops will change the country when they are accessible to everyone financially. Think of every man and women, having a personal laptop.