Hyundai Kia’s logistics division, Hyundai Glovis, has automated the packaging of semi-knockdown components at its logistics centres in Asan and Ulsan, South Korea. The move is the first step in a wider company initiative to increase productivity through the introduction of smart logistics. By Marcus Williams
Machines are being used both to package the parts and construct the boxes into which the knockdown kits are placed.
According to Hyundai Glovis, the automated system classifies the parts received from different supply locations, whether domestic or imported, before the robots palletise them for onward transport to Hyundai Kia’s assembly plants overseas. The company said automating the task saved between four and five minutes per box, compared to manual handling, equating to a saving of 5,600 hours a year. The system also reduces inventory costs by shortening the time taken to process parts.
“To produce cars at overseas production plants, it is necessary to package and distribute complete automobile production parts in Hyundai Glovis knockdown centres,” said the company in a statement. Given that there were tens of thousands of types and sizes of parts involved, manual oversight of the packaging process was still necessary, it said. Automation was chosen after a study of various potential process improvements, it added.
Hyundai Glovis has also automated construction of the corrugated boxes into which the parts are placed at its Ulsan facility. The Ulsan centre produces 94,000 boxes a year and the company said the automated process would reduce the time taken to make them by 3,400 hours a year.
In addition, Hyundai Glovis said it had introduced automation equipment to minimise the risk of strain to workers handling heavy materials and improve the working environment.
To move towards full-scale deployment of smart logistics, Hyundai Glovis said it had set up an integrated logistics research centre in July, which was playing a pivotal role in development. Employees there are studying future technologies in related industries including logistics and shipping, and looking for opportunities for growth for Hyundai Glovis.
The company said it would continue to explore smart logistics that utilised information technology, including various forms of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and information communication technology (ICT).
“Hyundai Glovis intends to gradually expand the introduction of automation at domestic and overseas logistics centres… and actively promote smart logistics appropriate for the fourth industrial revolution era,” it stated.