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LEGO is hiring (lots of) engineers ...

peterlinddkpeterlinddk DenmarkMember Posts: 170
edited August 2012 in Everything else LEGO
I recently read in the danish media that LEGO plans to hire around 100 (one hundred) engineers during the next year or so. Here is the source (in danish, but google translate does wonders with it!) http://ing.dk/artikel/131384-lego-soeger-100-ingenioerer-med-globalt-udsyn-og-jysk-sindighed

It is mostly plastic-engineers, experts in polymers and colours, as well as project managers and quality experts.

While this surely will be great news for any qualified AFOLS who wish to work in Billund, I am a bit worried - could this mean that we will get loads and loads of new molds, just like we had 10-12 years ago? Will all our favourite pieces be redesigned and replaced with inferior versions? Will there be even more colours, and perhaps yet another change like the grey -> bley back in 2004?

Or will we rather see even better quality, better designed parts, better colour-consistency, and more quality-consistency between Denmark, China and Mexico?

What are your thoughts? Will you apply for any of the jobs?

Comments

  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    I take it as a positive move, that they are taking the quality issue more seriously now than they have over the last ~8 years. I don't think we are going to see an explosion of 'POOP' parts (Parts (that could me made) Out of Other Parts), but maybe we will see an expansion of the Bionicle/Hero Factory/Super Hero figs lines - they already have a very high turn-over of new parts each year. More new colours isn't something to be worried about, by me anyway, as long as they are adding value to the system - if we ended up with 8 different shades of pink again, I'd start to get worried, but really new colours, like this years khaki green, are very welcome.

    There is an ongoing process of reviewing and redesigned all old parts; some of these changes are good for MOCers, some are bad, but they are all intended to improve the system. This has been rumbling on for several years, so maybe they plan to accelerate it? There are still a lot of 'missing' parts from the 'system'; I'd welcome some of the 'gaps' being filled in :-)
  • fitzyfitzfitzyfitz ManchesterMember Posts: 94
    I doubt you'll see any changes - this is just to keep up with increased production. Extract from the (translated) article:

    the Danish toy giant in recent years has experienced solid growth and are in urgent need to expand production facilities in both London and at the factories in Hungary, Czech Republic and Mexico
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    For what it is worth, it sounds like TLG is being really smart. When the profits and cash are rolling in, that is the time to reinvest in the business and improve it for the next generation. The other plastic brick companies aren't sitting still, TLG shouldn't be either.

    Both in improving quality and improving production processes to make a more profitable company in the long run. You only need to look at the big three American auto companies in the 70's and 80's to see what happens when you just sit and coast, not improving your products compared to the new kids on the block (Japan and Germany).

    As an aside, I'd go to work for TLG so fast, it just isn't funny. Sadly, they would probably not hire me since I have no desire to "work my way back up the ladder". I have zero design skills, but the back end production is one place that I'd love to put my accounting hat on for. Figuring out how to take a tenth of a penny of cost out of each part is something I would find fun.

    (yea, I'm a bean counter at heart, but one that knows it isn't all about the beans!)
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^Definitely agree, this is a good time as any to reinvest those gains and write off that capital instead of get taxed on that REBIT.

    Aside from adding new tech and molds, TLG may be overhauling their manufacturing process so need the engineers to come and rearrange things. If so, this could go a long way in bringing down overall costs in the next 3-5 year range and confront the clone-brands biggest advantage. Plus this is good timing since their product lines and production have already been planned out during this interval with a new decade of SW, continuation of Ninjago, Superheroes and Friends are already rolled out, LotR has been launched, Modulars, City & Creator are coasting according to plan. Nothing else new to distract them, which is the opposite of a few years ago during Lego Universe.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ I'm glad that TLG tried Lego Universe, companies need to innovate and try new things, or they die out. I'm also glad they killed it. If it isn't working, if it is sucking up company resources, if it just doesn't work out, don't be afraid to say "well, that didn't work, next!".

    Given the success of Ninjago both in Lego and in the cartoon, I would not be surprised if they are working on a Friends cartoon and a Star Wars cartoon.

    Yea, I know we have Clone Wars, but I really have to say that a LEGO Star Wars cartoon would be HUGE in my house. :)
  • TyoSoloTyoSolo Member Posts: 539
    ^Have you seen the Padawan Menace... it was actually quite witty. Definately worth a watch, as short as it is.
  • Penkid11Penkid11 Member Posts: 783
    ^^Lego Universe was actually fantastic, but the developers were WAY too open in listening to fan's ideas. It degraded it over time, so the inclusion of Ninjago was an attempt to get that group of kids to play as well. It failed as that world was just too big. This failure doubles tremendously with the subscription prices they were asking for. Not going into too much detail on that, I'll just give you an example: I spent $10 every month from October 2010 to January 2012, And almost 60% of the time I wasn't even online. I still loved it though :P
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    TyoSolo said:

    ^Have you seen the Padawan Menace... it was actually quite witty. Definately worth a watch, as short as it is.

    Yes, that one is worth watching 10 times... Way too short, but funny as heck. The bonus features also are great on that as well...

    Star Wars in Two Minutes! :)
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 503
    Thanks! I have friends who graduated from North Dakota State U. with degrees in Engineering and also Polymers and Coatings. Maybe one will get a job and I can feed them ideas for awesome future product :) (like Jawas and Tusken Raiders ;) .... ooh, and harvesters.... ooh, and non-Chinese plastic. My series 7 mini-figs are lacking grip in the hands :( and I only have them on display - no play.
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    It should be a positive move, in any case it does no good to assume it won't be. I'm glad to see they are hiring, that alone is a positive.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226

    ...could this mean that we will get loads and loads of new molds, just like we had 10-12 years ago? ...

    Or will we rather see even better quality, better designed parts, better colour-consistency, and more quality-consistency between Denmark, China and Mexico?

    I think it is the latter. Mads Nipper gave a great keynote at AFOLCON in Manchester this year about how tLEGO nearly folded mid-2000s. One reason he cited was too many elements (all colours in all parts) - so, they almost halved the number of elements. The number did seem to be creeping back up again slowly, but clearly LEGO would not be making the same mistake again.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 503
    The focus on Polymers and Coatings means research into stronger, clutch-ier plastics :) and not necessarily more molds. I look at the difference between bricks holding their color today vs. late 1970's Lego brick. Hoping this is the direction Lego is heading - place more distance in quality of plastics between Lego and the competitors.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    edited August 2012
    ... or maybe it could be reshaping of existing parts to use less plastic. This seems to have been an ongoing trend for a while now.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    I wonder if this hiring has to do with rising oil prices and all the talk about possible near-future shortages. While LEGO is doing great, they can't ignore the state of the economy - which sucks in most places of the world.

    I remember reading somewhere that they (LEGO) are very aware of the current financial state of the world, and are planning to make necessary preparations for continuing lean times. Maybe those engineers are supposed to be looking into alternatives to the current plastics being used?
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    The world is swimming in oil, there is so much of it, we'd be hard pressed to use it all, even if we tried.

    The only "talk" about running out comes from people with an agenda, those who want us to stop burning it.

    Keep in mind that according to the various oil scares of the 70's, we should have run out already. The world has been "running out" of oil for over 50 years now, yet we actually have more proven reserves today than we did 30 years ago.

    It does, however, keep the price of oil up, which makes some people very rich, something to keep in mind.
  • monkeyhangermonkeyhanger Member Posts: 2,859
    edited August 2012
    Also, raw materials (such as oil) make up a tiny proportion of the cost of Lego. Perhaps making the boxes only as big as they need to be for the contents would be a significant saving in oil (more Lego sets per truck in distribution). I think when the general Indian and Chinese populations get their hands on cars you might see people really worry about oil volumes.

    Over the years cars haven't gotten much more economical because as they've become more efficient, those savings have been negated by cars getting bigger and heavier as well as things like day running lights sapping electrical power. Only over the last few years have we seen big jumps in fuel economy with stop-start, braking energy regen etc, and even then mainly in Europe where fuel is about 10 US dollars per imperial Gallon.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    Well, just as an example: when I compare a classic 1980s 2x4 brick to one from 2012, it looks to me that Lego is already re-shaping parts to decrease volume.

    As to unlimited oil reserves, it is my understanding that the US oil production peaked ca. 40 years ago, supporting the concept of Peak Oil quite well.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ What is missing is a simple misunderstanding of the situation.

    People keep talking about current oil reserves like they are a fixed number. The amount of "proven reserves" does not go down over time, in fact in general it has been going up over time.

    Based on the "proven reserves" from 30 years ago, we should be out of oil by now. The world always "seems" like it is 30 years from running out of oil.

    We have thousands of years of oil, we are not going to run out in 10 lifetimes.

    The bigger issue is pollution, something I think we can all agree is a bad thing. After all, no one is sticking their face to the tailpipe of a car exhaust, now are they? :)

    Right now, the normal black stuff that we pump the most of, there are just over 1.3 Trillion barrels of "proven reserves" in the world. This number is higher than it was 30 years ago, even after 30 years of pumping billions of barrels of oil.

    On top of that, there is so much oil in tar sands and shale oil, it isn't even funny... The tar sands in Venezuela alone are estimated by the USGS to contain half a trillion barrels of oil, Colorado has over 1 trillion barrels of shale oil all by itself.

    The whole planet is swimming in oil, the bigger issue is pollution, not running out of oil.

    -------------

    All of that is only on-topic because so many people in the world are worried about "running out" of oil (because of "green propaganda"), and things made out of plastic like Lego will become harder or impossible to make. Just wanted to debunk the myth. :)
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716

    ... is only on-topic ...

    ^ it might be on 'a' topic, it isn't really on 'the' topic of this thread ;-)

    Based on what I've been told, the cost of the raw material that goes into each brick is ~1/50th of the (apparent) cost of that brick once it makes it home with you in a set - the raw material in the mythical '10c' brick actually costs about 0.2c. The rest of the cost comes from other manufacturing costs (moulds, robots, energy, waste, etc.), design costs, other staff costs, transportation, storage, taxes, profit, etc. Crude oil cost increases don't have much direct impact on the contribution of plastic costs to the final set price ... the impact of oil price increases on transportation costs, energy costs, etc. is the bigger contributor. Reducing their transportation costs was one of the many factors in Lego's decision to invest so heavily in the Monterrey, Mexico, facility.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    edited August 2012
    mressin said:

    Well, just as an example: when I compare a classic 1980s 2x4 brick to one from 2012, it looks to me that Lego is already re-shaping parts to decrease volume.

    This can actually be proven easily by weight 50 - 100 old 2x4 bricks and comparing against the same number of new 2x4 bricks. My unproven guess is that you'll be right and the new stuff is less dense than before. (Has anyone done this experiment before?) It helps to keep internal manufacturing costs down with less raw material, but also helps in keeping the price per piece down on the customer end by being able to give more bricks for the same manufacturing cost.

  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    @bluemoose TLGs annual expenses for raw material are certainly considerable. If they can reduce those by, let's say, just 1% by reshaping worn-out moulds which need to be replaced anyway, they do it.

    @LegoFanTexas Predictions about the future, especially when it's 30 years away, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Especially if they have to do with politics. After all, even weather prediction for more than a few days in advance still eludes us. :)

    Nonetheless, in the end, oil resources are limited. As we use up discovered resources, we need to move towards less accessible reserves, which require more effort to exploit. True, that increases the oil price, helping in turn to finance exploitation of less accessible reserves.

    The Peak Oil theory as relevant to us merely states that long before reserves run out, oil production will peak and then enter in a steady decline despite new reserves being found. This theory (or rather, H.K.Hubbert) correctly predicted the peak of US oil production in 1970, but also incorrectly predicted the global peak in oil production in 1995. Nonetheless, the applicability of Peak Oil to the exploitation of natural resources is remarkably well proven.

    The ultimate point of Peak Oil is not to predict when oil resources will run out. What we need to worry about is whether demand will keep rising after production has peaked.

    Don't take my word for it. Read it up yourself. Do the math.

    Hope this hasn't been too off-topic. I'll shut up now. :)
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    mressin said:

    @bluemoose TLGs annual expenses for raw material are certainly considerable.

    Yes, but that's a different question.

    Please, let's get it back on topic (Lego) & leave the political theories to a different forum.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ No problem... I wasn't trying to be political, just trying to interject my thoughts regarding there not being enough oil to make plastic Lego bricks in the future.

    @mressin makes some good points as well. I'm perfectly happy to have a civil conversation without bringing in "who is right and who is wrong", which always turns into a pissing contest anyway. :(

    But it is your forum, and if you want me to shut up about it, I will. :) I'm just saying that I can have a polite conversation about the future of plastic for Lego without being rude. Or at least I think (or hope) I can.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    Shake hands with @LegoFanTexas. :)
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    mressin said:

    Shake hands with @LegoFanTexas. :)

    Likewise... :)
  • VenunderVenunder Nottingham, UK.Member Posts: 2,506
    It's all chemistry.
    Lego will use the most economical materials to make plastic.
    Oil is not the only source of carbon that can be used to make plastic.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Venunder said:

    It's all chemistry.
    Lego will use the most economical materials to make plastic.
    Oil is not the only source of carbon that can be used to make plastic.

    This is true...

    Question however... the ABS type plastic, can it really be made out of anything but oil and be as durable as what they make now? Long term life is a concern after all.

    If it can, I'm all for them changing to something else, plant based for example.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited August 2012
    At AFOLcon, the TLG guys said that they're looking heavily into non-oil products, and have several prototypes of various materials, and plan to invest a lot in it. Yes, there's a lot of oil left, but its increasingly expensive / environmentally damaging/ politically tricky to extract. Also, given that we'll be building cities on mars some time soon, we're going to need the petrol for our spacebikes.

    My guess would be that it's related to that, as well as other operational efficiencies and upscaling.

  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 503
    @LegoFanTexas, the proven oil reserves from 30 years ago were based on the technology available, at that time, for the extraction of oil. That technology lacked in ways to remove the oil that remained within shale deposits previously "used up" during the U.S. oil harvests in the Ohio/Penn shale area and throughout the southwest/midwest U.S.

    Also, the technologies to retrieve oil from deep well offshoring was not possible (and some may say still unstable today). The phrasing "proven oil reserves" is a phrase connected to oil reserves that are known to exist, and that are also capable of being drawn from.

    1,000's of years worth of oil is an interesting thought, but agenda or not, simple calculations of the planet's mass separated into the makeup of the planet's mass, and our planet currently does not have 1,000's of years worth of proven/usable oil reserves. There was a great deal of talk amongst the plant science and polymers and coating faculty about this topic at North Dakota State (a University which, in political terms, shifts far to the right compared to other Universities I've worked with and taught at).

    Personally, I hope Lego might be looking at plant-based plastics more. Soy oil instead of fossil fuels oil. The proven reserves of plant-based oils are only another growing season away :) even though, for a Lego platform, they are currently not a proven oil platform... as the products made from soy-based oils tend to dissolve back to base components faster.
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,412
    ^ Oh great! Lego made out of soy oil? With all of the phytoestrogen in soy, maybe the Friends line will be even more popular than it already is.
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410
    Down in Mexico they make the Lego out of rendered tourist fat.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 503
    @Bosstone100, sorting through a garae sale purchase and finding some competitor bricks in the mix, I think the soy direction is already in production at other companies. I placed those bricks in a pot of coffee and a soybean plant sprouted the next day ;)

    not proven, I know. I hadn't thought about the phtoestrogen angle though... something to discuss the next time I'm "frozen in" Fargo :)
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