South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd. is struggling to ramp up production at its plant in Poland, partly because of the attitude of local workers, its chief technology officer said.
(Bloomberg) — South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd. is struggling to ramp up production at its plant in Poland, partly because of the attitude of local workers, its chief technology officer said.
“The ownership of workers in Poland, a European country, is not as high as that of Korean employees at factories,” Youngjoon Shin said at the Korea Investment Week conference in Seoul on Monday. “They are not good at handling something that we didn’t give instructions for.”
Shin acknowledged that LG Energy “didn’t understand the culture of Poland at first.” He said the company has had “troubles in increasing the speed of mass production and the quality of production at the plant in Poland.”
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LG Energy says its factory in Wroclaw is the biggest battery plant in Europe, with capacity to make cells for 1.2 million electric vehicles a year. The company plans to increase output to 100 gigawatt hours by 2025 from 70 GWh, and increase the role of automation.
“We think plants should be run by programs, not by humans,” Shin said.
LG Energy employs more than 7,000 workers at the plant in Poland and has said it plans to add about 1,000 more over the next three years.
The company hasn’t disclosed its production yields at overseas plants. In their latest earnings call, executives said yields at all plants reached internal targets.
South Koreans are renowned for having some of the world’s longest working hours, averaging 1,901 hours in 2022, according to OECD data. That ranked fifth among OECD members, behind Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile.
Speaking at the same conference in Seoul, Ecopro Co. Chief Executive Officer Hojun Song also said high costs and difficulty training local workers are affecting the company’s overseas expansion plans. The battery-materials maker is building a plant in Hungary.
“Local workers at overseas plants are not as hard working as Korean employees,” Song said.
(Adds OECD data on Koreans’ working hours in 7th paragraph.)
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