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A Chinese giant arrives in the country to produce and sell cell phones: these are the tech plants of Tierra del Fuego

One of the impressions fixed in the Buenos Aires social imaginary is that in the factories of Tierra del Fuego they only dedicate themselves to packaging the devices They arrive by boat from the Far East.

However, thanks to investment in state-of-the-art technology, the archipelago’s industry has an important added value in cell phones, smart TVs, PCs and other appliances that are distributed nationwide.

At the southern end of Argentina, bordering the end of the world, the Newsan firm maintains five robotic plantsplus a facility for recycling leftovers from the production process.

To find out how each of these plants operates, Clarín had the opportunity to walk the assembly linestalked to the engineer Pierre Iribarrenwho acted as a guide, and witnessed the complex technical production that is carried out in double shifts.

The plates that are produced at the Newsan plant. Photo Juan Manuel Santana.

During the pandemic, the local market experienced a strong increase in sales of the main consumer electronics products. A demand that maintains its level in 2022.

Thus, in 2021 the sale of cell phones grew, according to AFARTE, from 6.7 to 10.5 million unitsthe television market from 2.2 to 2.9 million, the air conditioner market from 0.9 to 1.4 million.

Thus, the holding company deepened the growth strategy of its brands and strengthened its producer role by partnering with international firms such as Motorola in the cell phone business and LG in the television business.

What is known about the arrival of Oppo cell phones in Argentina

The space where Oppo equipment could be produced.  Photo Juan Manuel Santana

The space where Oppo equipment could be produced. Photo Juan Manuel Santana

So that the productive wheel does not lose its momentum, it is mandatory to capitalize on new challenges. In this sense, the firm confirmed that is in negotiation with the Chinese giant Oppo to produce their mobiles on the island.

And while there is still nothing confirmed, this week the Chinese company BBK-Electronicsthe conglomerate that produces Oppo equipment, was to visit the plants of Tierra del Fuego since it plans to expand its production outside its current borders.

The Asian multinational is interested in working in southern Argentina to offer its cell phone line, one of the brands that it markets together with OnePlus, Vivo and Realme.

How are the technology plants of Tierra del Fuego

In some cases, staff intervention is reduced to visual control.  Photo Juan Manuel Santana.

In some cases, staff intervention is reduced to visual control. Photo Juan Manuel Santana.

in their warehouses, the 3,200 workers weld more than 900 components of the plates of the SmartTV and about 50 elements in the cell phones. Most of them are young people of both sexes, who are on average 25 years old.

Estimates for this year include the manufacture of 4.5 million cell phonesabout a million televisions and 495,000 air conditioners.

And while the bulk of the miniature parts and components are purchased individually from China, there are other parts, such as screws or fans, that are starting to be made in the country.

The Cordovan alexis mullet, since 2012 at Newsan, is the plant manager. The executive highlights the challenge involved in finding technical profiles and also retaining them. “What we seek is to motivate professional development. We work to be the most attractive on the island.”

In each of the plants, the traceability systems of all the processes stand out, through self-made monitoring software.

Quality controls are exhaustive in all lines. Each unit goes through a series of manual and automated tests to ensure that the final item reaches the consumer in optimal conditions.

Plant 2 of Tierra del Fuego: what is produced

Noblex phones in full production.  Photo Juan Manuel Santana.

Noblex phones in full production. Photo Juan Manuel Santana.

It is located on the outskirts of Ushuaia – bordering the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel – with an area of ​​4,000 square meters.

Part of its surface was refurbished during the pandemic and it now has four production lines and three assembly lines. The firm made an investment of US$1.5 million to “catch up” with current manufacturing technology.

In this area there is a part of the Motorola lines – the other is on the 3rd floor- from the most accessible as the motorcycle g22the intermediate ones like the Moto g52 to the aspirational teams, like the recent edge 30 or his older brother, the Edge 30 Pro.

To avoid leaks, the operators, mostly women because of their ease in handling small parts, do not know the name of the final product. Instead, the firm provides a code name to organize production.

In addition to assembling the different parts of the phones, from the kit that Motorola provides, the firm is in charge of the camera calibration processto respect the standards required by the brand worldwide.

Loose parts must be integrated into the plates.

Loose parts must be integrated into the plates.

These and other pieces of equipment are subjected to a rigorous quality control process, in which they are often dropped from a height of one meter or exposed to different temperature changes to check their resistance.

In this perimeter, Newsan also manufactures the notebooks for the Juana Manso program –of the Ministry of Education– that provides connectivity programs and equipment for public schools in Argentina. They will be delivered from October and their production has not yet started.

Plants 3 and 4 of Tierra del Fuego: what is produced

Women achieve better performance in assembling cell phones.

Women achieve better performance in assembling cell phones.

La 3 occupies 5,000 square meters and has strategically aligned robot-machines to articulate the SmartTV motherboard, air conditioners and computing, with an installed capacity for 15,000 daily plates.

It is one of the most automated, since the teams take care of soldering the jumpers on the motherboard, mounting the chipset and also, in a later process, verifying that they have been correctly placed and testing each of these circuits and connectors.

The total area of ​​plant 4 is 8,000 square meters and works by storing cell phones, with reception and finished product docks.

Plant 5 of Tierra del Fuego: what is produced

The plates of the televisions within the production chain.

The plates of the televisions within the production chain.

With an area of ​​20,663 square meters, it traditionally belonged to the Grundig brand, but in 2009 Newsan made an agreement to start production. There they produce televisions of their own brands and for third parties, such as LG and Hisense.

In this space, the LED, OLED, Nano Cell models are cooked, in all their dimensions, with the same standards as in the rest of the world, with a meticulous assembly process, using their own plates.

The volume to be produced by the company this year is 900,000 televisions120,000 microwaves, 100,000 Noblex cell phones and 40,000 monitors, Iribarren specifies.

This plant has two types of production. The traditional one, in the Fordean style, dedicated to televisions of up to 55” of own brands. And, on the other hand, what are known as manufacturing cells, where televisions of larger size and smaller volume are produced, such as LG 55” and above.

On the 6th floor, the parts of all the air conditioners are welded.

On the 6th floor, the parts of all the air conditioners are welded.

Plant 6 of Tierra del Fuego: what is produced

With an area of ​​21,000 square meters, different air conditioners are manufactured in this metallurgical area, from brands such as Philco or Noblex.

These represent 40% of the global market share in the Argentine market, with a volume of 450,000 units per year and a maximum capacity of 1,000,000 per year.

SL

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