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  (Source: supplychaindigital.com)
High costs and changing technology were cited as two main hurdles

Foxconn would love to eliminate its worker woes by deploying a full fleet of robots to do the work instead, but this venture may be trickier than previously thought.

Foxconn, which is the trading name for Hon Hai Precision Co. in China where devices like the iPhone and iPad are made, hopes to replace all 1.5 million of its workers with robots in the future, but issues like changing technology and high costs are putting delays on the project.

Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou said in 2011 that he wanted 300,000 robots installed by the end of 2012 and a total of 1 million by 2014. However, in June of this year, it was apparent that those targets weren't going to happen. Instead, he hopes to have "monotonous" tasks eliminated through automation within a few years and fully automated plants in five to 10 years.

The issue? For one, the cost to install that many robots would be very high. According to The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn would have to spend anywhere from $2.1 billion to over $10 billion for fully automated plants, depending on the type of robots used. Foxconn's traditional capital spending is below $3 billion.

In addition to cost, technology is ever-changing, and keeping up with the production cycles of different products would take more time than having humans perform the same task. For instance, once you've finished stabilizing the process for one product, it's already time for a new product to roll down the line.

Just last month, it was announced that at least one Foxconn factory in China received 10,000 robots for the purpose of replacing human workers. These robots, which were manufactured in house and 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.

The whole point of Foxconn's robot replacement program is to rid itself of the troubles that come with having human workers. Foxconn has been under the microscope since 2009 for various troubles like worker suicides, explosions in the plants due to aluminum dust build-up and other unsafe working conditions, riots, excessive overtime, low pay, etc.

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. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal



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Keep posting it
By Shadowself on 12/11/2012 2:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Foxconn, which is the trading name for Hon Hai Precision Co. in China where devices like the iPhone and iPad are made, hopes to replace all 1.5 million of its workers with robots in the future, but issues like changing technology and high costs are putting delays on the project.
Oh yes. There's going to be a big "computer brain" that runs the entire show so no managers or schedulers are required. This super computer brain is going to reprogram the production lines each time a modification or new equipment is run. Plus there are only going to be robotic systems to maintain and repair this equipment. Finally, all the shipping and receiving functions are going to be done by robots too! By doing all of this they can get rid of all those people!

NOT!

quote:
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.
Sure DT, keep repeating this and maybe people will forget that the story was recanted when the Times found out that their primary source made it all up. Plus several other investigations by third parties over the following month found out that extremely few of the issues sighted were in fact real.

Sure the factories, whether making Apple products or Samsung products, are horribly mind numbing jobs and by U.S. or European standards the people are grossly underpaid. But you will find those conditions in any such plants worldwide.




RE: Keep posting it
By name99 on 12/11/2012 7:49:22 PM , Rating: 1
It's actually worse than that. Look at the big picture here.

- Foxconn hires Chinese peasants whose alternative is working in a rice paddy all day, and gives them real money and some chance to control their lives.
- Activists come in with a bunch of lies and misinformation about how awful Foxconn is.
- Foxconn decides "Screw this. Helping poor Chinese people get a job does nothing but get us pain. Let's switch to robots."
- Chinese workers do what? Go back to the farm? Wander around the city homeless?
- Activists forget Chinese workers because who cares about them now that the primary goal of shaming Apple and Foxconn is over; and move on to screwing over the lives of Vietnamese or Thai or Indonesian workers.

There is a time and a place for activism --- but that time and place is NOT when a company is basically doing a good job given the historical situation, and when a rising tide is lifting all boats.


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