SEOUL - Daewoo's state-of-the-art factory at Kunsan opened officially last month. Daewoo already plans a second plant next door.
Kunsan builds the Nubira, one of Daewoo's three new cars. The first Nubira was built last December.
The 1 trillion won ($1.2 billion) facility has a capacity of 300,000 units a year. The site has sufficient land to treble that capacity.
Daewoo will build an engine plant there to make its range of modular engines. The site already houses a truck assembly plant.
Kunsan is twice as productive as Daewoo's other Korean car plants. The heavily automated plant can build 140 units per employee a year, instead of 70-80 units. The workforce is 3,500.
The Kunsan complex has three major component assembly shops, for seats, suspension systems and HVAC modules.
In addition there are shops for stamping, bodies, painting, assembly and plastics operations. The Kunsan export pier can ship 200,000 vehicles a year. The complex is built on 3.5 million square meters of reclaimed land.
Kunsan is designed to build two vehicles simultaneously. Currently it builds only the Nubira in three body styles. However, the first Nubira derivative, a mini-MPV, is due within two years.
The welding shop is 97 percent robotized, using 321 robots.
The stamping shop is heavily automated. Computer-guided vehicles take blanks from automated warehouses directly to the presses. Dies on the 5,400-tonne presses can be changed in five minutes.
Kunsan has the first paint line in Korea with an automatic tracking system. Another Korean first is a PVC undercoating process. The paint ovens have heat exchangers to save energy.
The plastics plant uses automated loading and unloading equipment. Some processes, such as sealing, are fully automated. The plastics plant operates 24 hours a day.
On the assembly line workers do not stand at fixed work stations. They ride on conveyers alongside the car bodies. The final assembly line has automatic systems for adjusting work height, and for fastening bolts and checking torque.
Daewoo and other Korean conglomerates have a high level of vertical integration and no supplier parks. At Kunsan, the trend is towards more inhouse manufacturing.
Instrument panels and bumpers are already produced at Kunsan. The facility includes Korea's first automatic injection-molding exchange system.