[BLT Insight]Digital transformation technology in Korea

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The winds of change in the root industry are strong. The root industry forms the foundation of manufacturing, encompassing core industries such as molding, casting, forging, welding, surface treatment, and heat treatment processing. The root industry plays a crucial role in quality and productivity throughout the entire process from materials to parts, modules, and final products. While everyone recognizes the importance of the root industry, factors such as obsolescence, aging, and labor shortages have led to a declining competitiveness trend. Advanced countries are accelerating digital transformation by actively utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as AI, smart factories, and robotics, along with various digital transition policy supports. In line with these changes, domestic root industry companies are also accelerating digital transformation.

[Image] Manufacturing process

Korean startup Belinker Inc. (CEO An Jae-min) successfully raised investment (Seed stage) with its one-stop on-demand solution for the root industry. Belinker's on-demand solution addresses various processing needs (multi-product, small-scale production) by collaborating with small manufacturing companies nationwide to solve various machining demands, especially in high-demand areas such as custom machining (CNC, MCT), and mold injection. Unlike the traditional method, which required passing through 3 to 5 companies to produce a single processed item, Belinker concentrates processing in a single company, reducing processing and manufacturing costs and ultimately lowering the final unit cost. It is expected that Belinker will secure manufacturing competitiveness by establishing a second tech center in Changwon.

[Image] Belinker's On-Demand Solution

The digital transformation for enhancing the competitiveness of domestic root industries is in full swing. Representative root company Hallcast Co., Ltd. (CEO Oh Jong-doo) is actively developing automation and material technology to enhance competitiveness. In particular, Hallcast has developed alloy technology to increase the tensile strength of die-casting parts used in high-demand electrical and electronic equipment and communication equipment. Additionally, they are introducing various surface treatment and process-specific automation robots and automation systems to adapt to digital transformation. 

[Image] Hallcast's Manufacturing Process

Furthermore, small root company Jinbo Precision Co., Ltd. (CEO Choi Deuk-sik) has developed technology that allows remote control of metal processing devices and real-time sharing of data between processing devices and user terminals, enabling swift user responses during the processing process. Thus, the previously lagging root industry is undergoing production innovation through digital transformation.

In 2020, the government announced the Root Industry 4.0 Competitiveness Enhancement Master Plan and established policies to support root industry competitiveness enhancement and digital transformation. A total of 158.6 billion won was invested in this project, and the policy support system was refined through a comprehensive amendment of the Root Industry Act. Through this, the government aims to: 1) Secure the competitiveness of root industries in response to changes in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and environmental changes, 2) Strengthen the stability of the root industry's supply chain in the process of global supply chain restructuring, 3) Transition from labor-intensive, low-value-added industrial structures to future-oriented structural transformation. Policy measures to revive the root industry by the government are expected to expand gradually.

[Image] Korean Gov's direction of manufacturing competitiveness enhancement Plan

Recently, Gumi City was selected to receive 100 billion won in national funding for the "DX-Based Construction Project for Supporting Root Industry Manufacturing Process Innovation" led by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. This project aims to improve the unfavorable environment of the local root industry and support the production of high-efficiency, low-cost, high-value-added products by supporting Gumi City as the hub for the mold sector and Seongju County as the center for heat treatment.

[Image] K-Root Industry Advanced Strategy for Responding to New Industries and Markets

Thus, the root industry is emerging as a pioneer in production innovation, and accordingly, government support policies and industrial changes are intensifying. In response to these changes, companies also need to enhance their competitiveness.

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