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LEGO Building Innovative Future Brick by Brick

Since its handover in 2014, LEGO’s additional brand new Hungarian plant in Nyíregyháza has been an important hub in the manufacturing of the iconic building blocks and has been on a constantly expanding and developing, Lóránt Siket, communications manager at LEGO Manufacturing Kft., tells the Budapest Business Journal.

Although digital games appear to be taking the playing arena from physical toys, the world-renowned plastic building blocks of LEGO are still fashionable among youngsters and their parents.

“We believe that physical play and the LEGO system-in-play will remain as relevant as they are today. According to a fresh global survey done by the LEGO Group, 95% of parents say that play is essential for the wellbeing and development of their child. This is something that encourages us to stick to our mission: inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” says Siket.

“Along with product development trends, we in the LEGO factory in Nyíregyháza have to be leaders in production technology, in order to ensure the best possible quality of LEGO products; and even more than that, as our motto says: ‘Only the best is good enough’,” says Siket.

As an addition to its original plant in Nyíregyháza, LEGO added a state-of-the-art unit in 2014. Among its innovations, the new factory applies advanced molding technology and the biggest automated high-bay-warehouse in the region, in order to ensure best product quality and effectiveness.  

“Through a decade of immense growth, we had to ensure a swift growth in production capacity and keep the extraordinarily high-quality standard that marks LEGO products,” Siket adds.

Fighting Plastic

Aside from developing technologies further, new platforms need to be installed in the factory as time progresses, in order to keep pace with business demand. The development of new products, meanwhile, demands the ability to work on multiple platforms, and further develop materials and technologies.

And as public dialogue becomes louder on cutting back on plastic production and usage, LEGO, which has plastic as the core material for its bricks, is making a commitment to reduce its plastic usage.  

“One of the biggest challenges for us is to replace the raw material [plastic] we use with sustainable materials. We already introduced polyethene made of sugar cane this year in our products, and plan to find an alternative to our main raw material ABS by 2030: a Sustainable Materials Center has been established in our headquarter in Billund, Denmark, where about 100 researchers and professionals work on a perfect solution,” Siket adds.

Innovation at LEGO has a special focus on the safety of employees. “Looking at technology, our colleagues are part of our innovation efforts, as in the spirit of ‘LEGO Continuous Improvement’, our idea program delivers a number of relevant development projects that we implement. We make construction toys for children, which means also a great responsibility: we have to ensure at all times that the products we make are absolutely safe and of the highest quality,” Siket explains. He further adds that the plant is committed to create the safest possible work environment.

As LEGO expects the bricks themselves to remain the core of its business — despite a swiftly and constantly changing industry — production processes are not likely to change significantly in the near future. Yet, LEGO still thinks it important to keep employees posted about changes.  

“We inform our employees about all important innovations in our company and provide them with the necessary training to develop the skills they need to work in a global environment,” the communications manager concludes.

This regular column, run in association with Audi, looks at how some of Hungary’s biggest companies involve innovation in their daily practice.