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One of Foxconn's new robots  (Source: singularityhub.com)
The electronics manufacturer will receive another 20,000 robots before the end of 2012

Foxconn plans to replace 1 million of its human factory workers in China with robots, and the first 10,000 have already been installed.

At least one Foxconn factory in China has received 10,000 robots for the purpose of replacing human workers. These robots, which were manufactured in house and are called "Foxbots," are capable of doing simple tasks like lifting, making selections and placing items where they belong. They will act much like assembly line robots.

According to Singularity HUB, each robot costs about $20,000-$25,000.

Last year, Foxconn President Terry Gou said he wanted to replace 1 million factory workers in China with 1 million robots. This was likely due to the number of problems Foxconn has had with human employees over the years. 

The company came under fire earlier this year when The New York Times published a massive article on the working conditions of Foxconn factories. Apple was also targeted because the report mentioned Apple's lack of action when receiving reports on these poor working environments and overtime/pay issues.

Foxconn gave employees a pay boost earlier this year and is cleaning its act up slowly but surely to comply with audits. 

But it seems Foxconn just doesn't want to deal with human employees at all anymore. While it will take a long time to replace all 1 million workers with 1 million robots, the electronics manufacturer will receive another 20,000 robots before the end of 2012 -- bringing its total to 30,000 for the year. Foxconn hopes to continue increasing this number over the coming years. 

Source: Singularity HUB



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That's what should have happened here
By BifurcatedBoat on 11/14/2012 5:30:07 PM , Rating: 3
The robots are a tool. Replacing some of the human labor required to complete a task with a tool is just the natural flow of progress. Usually it's done at the point when it becomes cost-effective to do so.

Granted, for every 10 manual laborers displaced by the machine, there may be just one maintenance guy/programmer. However, that guy will very likely be paid a middle-class salary instead of a relatively meager laborer's salary. So it's not really the bad thing that some people make it out to be. It's how quality of life improves.

One of the problems US manufacturing had is that, buoyed by unions, people thought they could stop progress from happening. That unfortunately led to American firms losing competitiveness with relatively unfettered foreign companies.

We should have been the ones to retrofit our factories with robots. Now it's happening at Foxconn instead.




By bjacobson on 11/14/2012 6:56:09 PM , Rating: 3
as much as I don't like some of the problems unions bring they definitely ensured we had a sizable middle class.

We can't all be engineers. There are already enough sales people and managers.


By Ringold on 11/15/2012 2:10:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We should have been the ones to retrofit our factories with robots. Now it's happening at Foxconn instead.


Actually, we did. US manufacturing didn't peak when people think it did, in the 70s. I don't think we've got to pre-recession highs again yet, but we're way, way above where we were back then. We've simply done a lot more with vastly fewer workers.

It's also hidden from public sight a bit because the value has come from fewer consumer-facing things. As a country, we did what we were supposed to in theory, we moved up the value chain. I mean, GE's hot new product is a massive, highly efficient, more quickly starting and stopping gas turbine. Easier, therefore, to integrate in to a grid with finnicky solar that produces on minute and doesnt the next when clouds roll in. Millions of dollars each, but not something we find at WalMart. MRI's. Defense equipment like radars. Surgical robots. US manufacturing is sorta in the shadows, but its as large dollar wise as it ever has been.


By marvdmartian on 11/15/2012 1:31:31 PM , Rating: 2
Still, they should have waited, as it seems they might have picked up 10,000 Panasonic workers, cheap!

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=29188


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