Kia Motors Slovakia invites us inside its Zilina car plant
Wedged in between three impressive mountain ranges which form the Western Carpathians, Zilina is a picturesque town in Slovakia with a proud industrial history.
But there is something else that punctuates the landscape, and I got my first clue as the cool light of the moon shone upon some railway tracks outside the hotel. There was the biggest freight train I have ever seen passing through, all double stacked with cars from the nearby Kia factory and heading to Western Europe. I later discovered if they are heading for the UK, the cargo makes its way to the Port of Hamburg in Germany, before arriving at the Port of Grimsby and Immingham in England.
The Kia Motors Slovakia plant has recently celebrated the one millionth Kia Cee’d rolling off the production line. As well as this Cee’d milestone, the plant also produces the Sportage and Venga models, and overall the company manufactured and distributed 323,700 cars out of Zilina in 2014.
At an investment of €1.6 billion, the plant acts as the fulcrum to firm’s operations, particularly in Europe where around 60 percent of EU sales originate from Kia Motors Slovakia. The main export countries are situated in Western Europe unsurprisingly; France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and all feature prominently in that regard but Poland and Russia also provide a home for a sizeable amount of finished products.
Recently I was part of a group of journalists who were privileged to take a look round the Kia Motors Slovakia plant in Zilina, where we saw every stage of production and were even allowed to take part in building the cars on the assembly line.
Everything was laid out exactly according to plan, and you had to be careful to pick up the next part on the shelf as that corresponded with what model was coming down the line next. You could have been putting a cee’d spoiler onto a Sportage otherwise! We had a go at attaching steering wheels and grab handles to a selection of cars and then we saw a line of finished products at the end of our tour.
The benefits of being located in Slovakia outweigh the challenges, and Kia management noted there were a number of skilled workers in the region due to its rich industrial history. Tomáš Potoček, HR Director for Kia Motors Slovakia, said: “We also knew there were a number of local suppliers who could assist us in Zilina, plus it is strategically located in Central Europe. Obviously Hyundai Glovis is our biggest supplier for modules, and we work closely with Johnson Controls.”
Martin Lokaj, Supply Chain Manager at Kia Motors Slovakia, added: “We aim to make these supplier synergies with Korea and are using common parts, so we will always act on supplier recommendations from HQ. 70 percent of materials are coming from within the EU, the other 30 percent is mainly from USA. Also, 25 percent of the EU materials come from within Slovakia which we feel is important, as it add to the national economy and overall GDP.”
It is clear Kia Motors has a friendly, motivated and successful team at the Zilina plant and this is helping it go from strength to strength. So is there potential for even more growth in the coming years, and will this lead to the building of more facilities?
Kia Motors CEO, Han-Woo Park, concluded: “In the future we have eventualities on productivity and our size can be increased if need be. When we need to we will consider investment if demand exceeds the amount of cars we can possibly supply.”
“We want to increase our production capacity without the need to build other plants, so with this plant in Slovakia we will just increase production. Next year we will increase production without physically increasing the size of the plant.”
To read the full feature on the Kia Motors Slovakia visit, please read the July issue of Supply Chain Digital:- http://issuu.com/supplychaindigital/docs/supplychain-digital-july2015?e=12457835/13986380
Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.