Monday, March 16, 2009
Hyundai and a Hero
Back home, Oprah Winfrey’s been known to give away cars every once in a while. Today, every student from IU’s Kelley School of Business visiting Hyundai’s factory in Asan is coming home with a new car.
After giving a thorough tour of the 4,000-employee production facility, Jin Lee, a member of the company’s general affairs team, presented everyone with a scale model of one of the company’s cars.
So it shouldn’t be too hard to get the cars home.
Many students also will bring home their impressions about the 15-year-old plant, which produces about 300,000 cars annually. Spread out over 1.8 million square feet, the highly automated facility features a press shop, welding and painting facilities and an assembly operation. It also has two engine shops that make 850,000 units annually and a foundry.
More than 300 robots and just 35 workers over a 50-hour work week manage two enormous metal presses, which make the car’s chassis and doors.
Another 200 workers are in the welding area, who oversees more robots and less than a 1 percent defect rate.
About 1,000 people work in assembly operations, with more than 25,000 car parts.
Despite the fact that your new car can come in one of 14 colors, 80 percent of cars make here are black, white or silver.
After a Korean lunch in the employee cafeteria, we traveled to Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin, a memorial to South Korea’s greatest military hero.
The Seoul-born Admiral Yi (1545-98) designed a new form of metal warship called "turtle boats" and used them to achieve an astonishing string of victories over the much larger Japanese navy that attacked Korea in the late 16th century.
He is featured on the 100 won coin -- kind of similar to Lincoln being on the penny -- and statutes around the country. But this place is where he ultimately was memorized and many of his succeeding relatives are buried here.
Other than the Civil Defense sirens that we hear at about 2 p.m., this is a peaceful place. The magpie birds are a joy to see in this beautiful park, which includes a koi pond that is popular with students.