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Seeing is believing...in South Korea

A trip to South Korea to see the LG Electronics factories that produce the company’s HVAC equipment is an impressive experience.

LG’s main ‘Air Solutions’ factory is located in Changwon, on the South Coast of South Korea. It’s a fascinating place, planned on the development of Canberra in Australia, with a grid-based layout that makes it one of the easiest cities to navigate. It’s also home to the South Korean Navy.

The question often asked by those invited to see the LG factory in Changwon, is this: “Having seen many other manufacturers’ factories over the years, is there really a reason to visit this one?”

According to a team from independent UK air conditioning distributor, PACAIR, yes, there is. The team recently went to visit the LG factory alongside top consultants. This was the first time any of the group had visited the LG factory or South Korea and initially, there were questions about the value to them of going.

However, one of the visitors from the UK said: “It is the sheer scale of the LG Changwon factory that impresses you first, along with the volume of products that they manufacture each and every day. For example, to travel from the Multi V 5 factories to the compressor factory within the same grounds, we had to go by coach!”

The second thing that stood out was the quality control at the LG factory: “All manufacturers offer quality control, but we were all amazed that after every process stage, a quality check is carried out, as well as the final check at the end. The reason for this is basic.  If they are checked throughout every stage, then any imperfections can be picked up immediately and corrected there, where that part of the task has taken place. They know exactly what it is that needs looking at and rectifying.”

The quality checks include leak and pressure testing using helium gas. Helium is used, despite being relatively expensive, as it has more chance of detecting a leak than an alternative gas or liquid. Every product is fully tested to the highest standard as it leaves the factory. As a seal of guarantee, every product is labelled, inputted into the system and has the details of the employee that performed each check recorded. There is a high level of accountability for everyone working in the factory.

Moving on to the compressor factory, the same quality checks are adhered to. Furthermore, the factory workers are all trained engineers, having to complete and pass courses continually.

While visiting, LG took the PACAIR team to see a mixed Multi V hotel installation and a Multi V S high end residential installation. A large number of the high-rise buildings in Korea have LG products installed. They approach residential projects differently to the UK, having an outdoor unit - Multi V S - positioned for each apartment connected to various indoor units. The outdoor unit sits against the outside wall inside a cupboard with louvres. However, the hotel building we were shown has a similar setup to a UK hotel, with plant on the roof top.  Everyone commented on the large size of the hotel’s control room and how, in Korea, someone is on site to take care of the building at all times, unlike in the UK where it seems people rely on the hotel receptionist or concierge to monitor and check the air conditioning system.

Nigel Palmer, director of PACAIR, was mightily impressed by what he saw in Korea. He commented:  “There is no question of the quality of LG Electronics air conditioning products; they are built to the highest standards and the factory is taking a real interest in the UK market, having developed products successfully. Our Korean hosts were extremely friendly and rightly proud of their country, company and culture.

“We are looking forward to the launch of the Multi V S VRF Heat Recovery system coming to the UK in September, a side discharge 6HP unit and a product specifically developed for the heat recovery market.”

The visit demonstrated LG’s commitment to quality and showcased its technical expertise and scalability of production capabilities. According to those travelling, it was certainly a worthwhile visit.

17 July 2017

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