Sunday 17 December 2017

Samsung factory that made 'exploding' Note 7 batteries catches fire

Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are displayed at its shop in Seoul. Photo: AP
Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7 smartphones are displayed at its shop in Seoul. Photo: AP

Cara McGoogan

One of Samsung's factories has caught fire after the "exploding" batteries that forced it to recall the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone combusted.

The fire in the Samsung SDI factory, which developed some of the faulty batteries in the Note 7, was caused by a pile of discarded batteries in its waste facility, the local emergency services said.

It took 110 firefighters and 19 trucks to put out the blaze at the Samsung SDI factory in China.

"The material that caught fire was lithium batteries inside the production workshops and some half-finished products," said the local fire department in Tianjin.

Samsung said the fire, which occurred in the waste depository, was "minor" and didn't affect the production line. No injuries were reported, but the company has called in environmental protection officers to check air quality.

The SDI factory will supply batteries for the upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship phone, which has been delayed after the Note 7 debacle.

Read more: Samsung to delay launch of new smartphone as company confirms battery suppliers to blame for Note 7 disaster

It was one of two suppliers that provided batteries for the recalled phones. A Samsung investigation found that batteries from the two manufacturers were to blame for the overheating problem.

Since the crisis, SDI, an branch of the South Korean company dedicated to energy and batteries, has invested around 150 billion won (£104 million) in safety. Samsung is confident that its Galaxy S8 will be safe and has a "renewed commitment to safety".

Samsung is hoping to regain consumer trust with the S8 after Apple overtook it as the world's biggest smartphone maker earlier this month. The S8 is expected to have an edge-to-edge screen, iris scanner and keep the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The news follows a battery crackdown in South Korea, which will place electronics manufacturers under more intense security, including regular inspections and strict safety requirements.

The country's safety watchdog hasn't imposed any fines on Samsung for the fault, which caused dozens of injuries and fires around the world, but the controversy wiped $5.4 billion (£4.3bn) from its operating profit.

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