Samsung Elec. aids Covid self-test kit makers in smart factory conversion

2022.02.25 09:14:54 | 2022.02.25 09:15:21

[Photo provided by Samsung Electronics Co.]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by Samsung Electronics Co.]

Samsung Electronics Co. is once again brought in as a relief pitcher to help local small manufacturers tackle production challenges after it had successfully ramped up South Korea’s output of facial masks, PCR test kits and low dead space (LDS) syringes with its smart factory support projects since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The Korean technology giant said on Thursday it has launched an emergency project together with the Ministry of SMEs and Startups to help local Covid-19 self-test makers, GenBody and Sugentech, upgrade their facilities with smart factory solutions in response to mounting demand.

Samsung Electronics already dispatched 19 smart factory experts to GenBody located in Cheonan, Chungnam Province to help the company improve productivity, it said.

Samsung Electronics aims to increase productivity by 30 percent by reducing working hours per facility, while helping GenBody manage logistics more efficiently by relocating production lines and introducing a new inventory management system. GenBody expects to double its weekly output from 3 million self-test kits to 6 million with its new smart factory to be up and running late April.

Samsung Electronics will send another group of its smart factory solution experts to Sugentech soon to help the company’s smart work system in logistics, facility and process.

This is not the first time for Samsung Electronics to lend a hand to small manufacturers grappling with production challenges from sharply heightened demand.

When Korea suffered sudden mask shortages when the coronavirus first hit the county in February 2020, it immediately dispatched 50 manufacturing experts to four local small mask manufacturers to ramp up their mask output with Samsung’s smart factory solutions. In two months, their mask production capacity jumped 51 percent.

It also helped local PCR test makers such as SolGent and KogeneBiotech build smart production facilities in May 2020 when supply was outpaced by demand amid a rapid rise in confirmed cases worldwide. Samsung Electronics sent experts to help them improve productivity in a short period of time. The company supported mold design, logistics optimization, packaging process improvement, and barcode management, while helping them introduce automated facilities to tackle inefficiencies across the factory. As a result, the test kit makers were able to improve their productivity by more than 70 percent on average.

Samsung’s assistance was especially highlighted when it mobilized its own resources to develop an LDS syringe for local syringe maker Poonglim Pharmatech. An LDS syringe designed to limit dead space that exists between the syringe hub and needle can save some 20 percent in vaccine waste compared to general products, allowing one or two more people to receive a shot per vial.

In December 2020, when the world rushed to secure Covid-19 jabs, Samsung Electronics heard a complaint about vaccine waste from a Pfizer executive who was contacted through the network of Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee. Samsung Electronics immediately started a collaboration project with the Korean SME and produced a new product that satisfied the U.S. vaccine maker. As a result, the Korean government was able to introduce more Pfizer vaccines in a faster manner.

Samsung Electronics launched a smart factory support center in 2015 to help improve the productivity of the domestic manufacturing industry by supporting SMEs in their shift to digitalization. In addition to productivity improvement and innovation activities, Samsung Electronics is expanding its support scope to market development, professional training, and technical assistance. As of last year, a total of 2,819 locations received smart factory-related support from Samsung Electronics.

By Lee Seung-hoon and Minu Kim

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]