Stonic is built on the same line as Rio at Sohari in South Korea. The capacity of the line has been gradually ramped up in recent months so that the introduction of Stonic does not impact upon the output of Rio. The line is fully flexible so that production of the two models can be adjusted according to demand.
Sohari is the place where it all started for Kia as we know it today: the plant opened in June 1973. It is located within greater Seoul, to the south-west of the city centre, and currently has a staff of just under 5,300. Sohari is capable of building 350,000 cars a year.
Sohari may be Kia’s oldest plant, but it has been extensively modernised to improve its efficiency and the lives of the people working there, reduce its impact on the environment and to ensure that the quality of cars leaving the factory gates is at an all-time high.
Although only about two per cent of a car’s lifetime CO2 emissions are created during manufacture, this can still amount to a substantial figure when multiplied by the total production capacity of a factory. So, even small improvements can add up to major reductions when rolled out across the entire production network. All Kia plants are working to reduce their impact on the environment by putting in place clean and efficient processes.
In recent years the focus at Sohari has been on developing ever more flexible production systems. As part of that, staff have been encouraged to find and adopt innovative production activities. Everyone at Sohari has been helping to make the plant less wasteful and more environmentally friendly. As a result, the plant has been one of Kia’s leading lights in environmental change.
Improved painting facilities have been installed, and every aspect of vehicle production has been under scrutiny to ensure the plant uses less energy and produces less waste. Water and power consumption, dust and CO2 emissions per vehicle produced and contaminants and waste volumes have all been reduced.
Kia has made reducing the amount of raw materials being fed into the production process a major priority in every production facility around the globe. Over the last few years there has been significant progress in reducing waste, increasing recycling and developing cleaner production processes.
Exhaust pollutants from Sohari have also decreased dramatically – dust, NOx and SO2 output have all been reduced.
New technology is playing a significant part in environmental improvement. Typical cast melting furnaces produce large amounts of dust and contained within this is a high proportion of zinc. The captured dust is treated and the zinc extracted before being re-used within the production process.
More technology is employed in the machining shops where gearboxes are produced. Compressed air is used as a coolant when machining intricate gearbox internals, rather than cutting oil. This and the associated oil mist are problem pollutants and the new scheme is helping reduce oil use.
The green landscape around each facility is an important part of each plant make-up. One ongoing programme is based on a number of ‘ecology gardens’ which are filled with trees and plants resistant and sensitive to environmental changes in air pollution. Sohari is no different, with more than 25,800m2 of green areas and 24,500 trees planted in and around the facility. This has the added benefits of providing a more comfortable environment for the staff and local population and offsetting some of the CO2 output from the plant.
These ‘ecology gardens’ are continually monitored as they act as a real-world indicators to air quality. Each site is broadening its green patches and constantly monitoring air pollution in neighbouring communities. A monthly task for each facility is the ‘One Stream Clean-up’ programme where Kia staff clean and maintain local, natural streams. This is not only to monitor their cleanliness but also to keep them well maintained for the local communities to enjoy.
The overall effect of the many green initiatives – reducing the use of raw materials, recycling more and reducing waste – has resulted in Sohari being officially recognised as an eco-friendly worksite by the Korean Ministry of the Environment.