High-speed automation has enabled one Nokia facility to assemble 500 million phones in just 10 years.

Just 10 years after it opened, the Nokia factory in Komarom, Hungary, has assembled its 500 millionth cell phone. Photo courtesy Nokia

On Jan. 26, Nokia celebrated a milestone at its mobile phone assembly plant in Komarom, Hungary-the production of its 500 millionth phone from a single factory.

Established in 1999, the Komarom facility assembles mobile phones for European, Middle East and African markets. During the past 10 years, the factory has produced many of Nokia’s most popular models.

Ten years, 500 million phones. That’s 50 million phones per year. Quite a remarkable achievement when you consider what a complex bit of technology a mobile phone is. To put that number in perspective, 500 million is nearly one phone for every man, woman and child in Mexico, Central America and South America. Assuming most of plant’s output is-like my Nokia phone-11.5 centimeters long, then 500 million phones laid end to end would be enough to wrap around the equator 14 times!

Perhaps more impressive than a mobile phone itself is the technology for making it. The Komarom facility’s achievement could only have been accomplished with the help of high-speed automated assembly and test equipment. I’m not talking solely about circuit board assembly machines, either, but robots, grippers, parts feeders, conveyors, screwdrivers, vision systems and dispensing equipment, to name a few.

In an address to the plant’s employees, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo lauded their achievement and dedication to quality. Justly so. We also give a pat on the back to hard-working manufacturing engineers behind the scenes who made their achievement possible, and we hope Nokia remembers that the next time it’s time to cut a check for a new automation system.