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Use of Smartphones during Work Hours Emerging as Significant Problem
Reason for Increasing Recalls
Use of Smartphones during Work Hours Emerging as Significant Problem
  • By matthew
  • November 20, 2013, 08:12
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Assembly line at Hyundai Motor Company’s car factory in Ulsan, South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Taneli Rajala/Wikimedia Commons)
Assembly line at Hyundai Motor Company’s car factory in Ulsan, South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Taneli Rajala/Wikimedia Commons)


The development of smartphones, which has contributed greatly to Korea’s IT powerhouse status in the world, is posing a dilemma to the country’s manufacturers. The novel invention has enabled smart working, but the manufacturing defect ratio is rising at the same time as employees are looking at their smartphones more often than not during working hours. 

According to Hyundai Heavy Industries, the popularity of its m-PASS is on the rise these days. m-PASS is the world’s first smartphone-based after-sales management system dedicated to marine vessels. 

Using the system, shippers can easily register and browse problems related to various in-ship equipment and check data such as navigation schedules, technical information, the list of equipment suppliers, and after-sales service providers. In addition, they can exchange opinions and information with Hyundai’s employees for real-time troubleshooting. 

Last year, it established a smart customer service system as well to remotely cover engine-related problems by means of smartphones and tablet PCs. It has been well received by global shippers trying to save on costs and tackle problems without delays. “The new system is very convenient because we can take pictures of problematic vessel components, post the photos and deal with them at one go,” said Darrell Janssen, engineering manager at Noble Drilling. He continued, “The system has led to our greater confidence in the ships built by Hyundai Heavy Industries.”

Hyundai Mobis is utilizing a smart monitoring system in its manufacturing processes, too. Various standards associated with inspection items are input in advance and compared to real-time inspection data during the processes. In that way, detailed information is provided for managers and workers in the form of smart phone text messages when an abnormal value is found. 

As stated above, smartphones are of great help in many companies, but some experts are pointing out that they are affecting the concentration of employees during working hours. 

For example, a semiconductor component manufacturer located in Cheonan City, South Chungcheong Province recently had a headache due to an increased defect ratio. The loss is huge even with a single poor component, as it costs millions of won. The company had hard time figuring out the reason of the sudden increase in the number of defective products. Then, it happened to find out that the defect percentage had to do with the employees’ use of smartphones. “Although they did not make a phone call or play a game during the business hours, we found that they checked stock price information or text messages, and this caused the increased defect ratio,” said the company. 

The story is just one example of the concerns many manufacturers in Korea have nowadays. “We are considering that the frequent recall of vehicles of late is also related to the use of smartphones during work hours,” said an auto industry insider. The number of recalled cars manufactured by Korean automakers rose from 165,919 last year to 959,359 by November 18 this year. 

Even though most processes in automobile manufacturing have been automated, it still requires a lot of manual work. As such, concentration on the work is essential, but the use of smartphones is hindering the concentration in not a few cases. 

“We have tried to ban the use of smartphones during work hours in this context, but the discussions are in a stalemate due to the strong opposition expected from the labor union,” said a local automaker, continuing, “Besides, it is difficult to dissuade the union, because we cannot clearly show the correlation between the use of smartphones and the decline in product quality.”