The USD360-million LG Electronics’ (LG) manufacturing plant in the United States has been selected as a world-leading Lighthouse Factory by the World Economic Forum. The million-square-foot factory in Clarksville, Tennessee is the industry’s first home appliance plant in the US to join the WEF’s global network.
It also is the company’s second Lighthouse Factory, following on the heels of the LG Smart Park in Changwon, South Korea, which was selected by the WEF last year.
A ‘Lighthouse Factory’ is recognised by the WEF for its role in shaping the future of manufacturing through the integration of Internet of Things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robots and other Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Since 2018, the WEF has selected and added global factories to its network twice a year.
The company’s world-class autonomous factory in Tennessee, utilises advanced digital technologies from AI and big data to IoT and robots. Completed at the end of 2018, the facility now operates three production lines and has 900 staff.
Featuring a complete integrated production system streamlined process to supply high-quality products to customers on time, each line carries out the entire manufacturing process of new models from making the parts to assembly and packaging. In addition, strict quality conditions are applied to all the assembly lines to heighten quality across the board, from parts to finished products.
The LG Tennessee factory boasts a fully autonomous logistics system with 166 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that transport parts around the plant. With three times more AGVs than the LG Smart Park, these robots improve overall productivity by freeing up people for other tasks.
With the integration of parts production such as metal press processing, plastic injection moulding and painting — including the company’s own intelligent injection moulding system — the company has increased component productivity by 21%.
In addition, the plant recognises and responds in advance to potential productivity issues through an advanced detection system. By applying data-based AI technology that accurately predicts washing machine performance, the number of tests and energy consumed during testing are reduced by 22%, while the defect rate has been reduced by more than 61% via quality optimisation.
The plant is also maximising workplace safety and operational efficiency by using robots for complicated, potentially dangerous tasks, such as assembling and lifting heavy parts and welding.
To further improve efficiency, the company plans to establish a 5G connectivity network across the facility in the second half of this year, creating an environment where its many AGVs can transport materials faster and more accurately based on stable, uninterrupted communication. LG will also introduce Autonomous Mobile Robots that navigate the expansive facility with ease to enhance its logistics system.
The company’s commitment to sustainability can be seen throughout the Tennessee factory, which transitioned to renewable energy completely in 2022. The plant also uses a high-efficiency utility infrastructure, which supplies the power, steam and heat necessary to produce LG’s home appliance products with the help of the company’s advanced Building Energy Control solution.