Japan & Korea Study Tour 2016 – Day 2

Written by: Neetu Sharma (MBA Candidate), Ken Rutherford (MBA Candidate), Travis Reed (MBA Candidate), Wolfgang Baumann (MBA Candidate), Catherine Tettah (MBA Candidate) and Ronnie Bud (MBA Candidate)

May 10, 2016

Today we visited the Kia plant in Hwasung, which is the biggest plant in Korea.  Using a combination of robots and employees, the plant churns out about 600,000 cars per year. Most models built here are conventional gas powered, with lines having the flexibility to switch between models. Built on a vast secured piece of land, the factory includes manufacturing space, testing grounds and trucking facilities.  The factory is strategically located for shipping as vehicles need to be sent only 12 km away to be shipped.

We started with a film about the history of Kia and were surprised to learn that it started manufacturing cars only in 1974 and Korean designed cars in 1992.  Kia earned it’s reputation as Korea’s automotive pioneer by accomplishing many firsts in Korea — the first bike, the first motorcycle,  the first car and the first Korean designed car. Kia is changing its marketing line to “The Power to Surprise” and following the visit we had a lively discussion about the optics of the element of surprise in a car. At the facility, we got the privilege of seeing first hand and walking through the heart of the car manufacturing process — starting with the metal sheets that form the body, moving on to the various assembly and welding processes, and testing for things such as water tightness and standards compatibility.

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The Samsung Innovation Museum was an interesting amalgamation of technology, history and culture — harking back to the beginning of modern science and revealing glimpses of things to come. The actual tour covered:

  1. The history of innovation in the realms of electricity, lighting, telecommunications, home appliances and radio
  2. Corporate innovation including semiconductors and mobile lifestyle evolution
  3. Creation with future concepts and technology.

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As we sat in the theater for the last part and saw some of the cool technology — health care innovations (transmitting the vital signs of traveling kids to their parents), lifestyle innovations (virtual wardrobe tryouts), and just an overall innovative use of technology  (reliving memories) — we wished and hoped that these great ideas would be coming to life soon.