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Foxconn may replace 'iPhone 6' assembly line workers with 'Foxbot' robots

post #1 of 108
Thread Starter 
During a recent shareholder meeting, president and CEO of Apple partner manufacturer Foxconn said his company plans to roll out robots on assembly lines responsible for products like the iPhone, possibly in time for production of the so-called "iPhone 6."

Foxconn


According to CEO Terry Gou, the robots -- dubbed "Foxbots" -- are in the final stages of testing and could see deployment in at least one major Foxconn factory in the near future, with lines dedicated to Apple devices getting first priority, reports IT Home.

For the initial rollout, Foxconn is said to be planning an installation of 10,000 robots to replace human workers, possibly including those who make Apple's popular iPhone product range. Each Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year, meaning a release of 10,000 would theoretically yield 300 million iPhones if completely tasked to that production line.

At a cost of $20,000 to $25,000 each, the robots could also represent a substantial savings for Foxconn, which currently employs more than 1.2 million workers at its various factories across China. Aside from overtime wages, housing and production line stoppages, the introduction of a fully automated manufacturing solution could solve the company's ongoing workers' rights troubles.

Foxconn's robot initiative has been delayed since it was first announced in 2011. At the time, Gou said the company had about 10,000 units already in operation, a number that was supposed to rise to 300,000 in 2012, then one million by 2014. The current number of robots being used in Foxconn's factories is unknown.

Despite the reported advancement in its robotics project, Foxconn will still have to rely on human hands for the foreseeable future. In June, a report claimed the firm would be hiring some 100,000 employees in ramp up to production of Apple's next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to start in July.

Apple's iPhone 6 is expected to boast a completely revamped design with a thinner chassis and next-gen "A8" SoC. New for this year may be the introduction of two new models in a 4.7-inch version and a 5.5-inch "phablet" variant, the latter of which could see differentiation through optical image stabilization and a higher 128GB storage option.

Recent rumors have pegged a release date for Sept. 25, while others claim launch will occur on Sept. 19.
post #2 of 108
Those robots look just like real people¡

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #3 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Each Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year, meaning a release of 10,000 would theoretically yield 300,000 iPhones if tasked to that production line.

That math doesn't really work out. Unless you're only assuming 10 such robots will be working on iPhone production.

post #4 of 108
That is one way to solve problems related to worker's rights - get rid of the workers.
post #5 of 108

This is great news if it turns out to be true!

 

Last I heard, robots do not get a salary, they do not require room and board, they do not strike and they do not jump off of roofs.

 

In one of the previous threads about Foxconn from a while ago, I'm pretty sure that I mentioned something that Foxconn should get rid of as many human workers as possible.

 

This is also great news for those people who like to slander Apple and complain about Foxconn workers being underpaid. Now they don't have to be paid at all! Haha, that's awesome! Perhaps one of the slanderers of Apple can hire them now, unless they're all talk and no action.8-)

 

I'd much rather have robots making my devices than humans. Robots are more precise, they're not affected by mood, and they can complete the same boring task over and over again without any complaints.

 

Foxconn gets two thumbs up from me if they do go ahead with this move!:smokey: 

post #6 of 108
I believe a few zeroes were left off the number of devices 10,000 robots could produce in a year. 1wink.gif
post #7 of 108
I'd like to see Apple using this effort to create a competitive moat. It is not clear from this that they are. If not, Foxconn will just flip the switch on for all vendors

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post #8 of 108

"Each Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year, meaning a release of 10,000 would theoretically yield 300,000 iPhones if tasked to that production line."

 

That 300,000 should be 300,000,000. But that conflicts with the later statement that Terry Gou predicted 1 million robots online by 2014 (I recall that statement from years ago). Either the Foxbots are far more capable than the robots originally mentioned by Gou, or some of the numbers in the article are wrong.

post #9 of 108
Guys, get the math right. 30,000 x 10,000 is 300 million iPhones. Not 300,000, as you have written.
post #10 of 108

“How DARE Apple put people out of work! They’d better be giving each one of them $20,000 per year for free!”

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

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post #11 of 108
Is it just me, or is

"[Foxconn] plans to roll out robots on assembly lines..., possibly in time for production of the so-called "iPhone 6.""

somewhat contradictory to

"...Foxconn will still have to rely on human hands for the foreseeable future. In June, a report claimed the firm would be hiring some 100,000 employees in ramp up to production of Apple's next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to start in July."

?
post #12 of 108
Today: Foxbots.
Tomorrow: Droid Army.

Sent from my iPhone Simulator

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Sent from my iPhone Simulator

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post #13 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by cMka~+ View Post

Is it just me, or is

"[Foxconn] plans to roll out robots on assembly lines..., possibly in time for production of the so-called "iPhone 6.""

somewhat contradictory to

"...Foxconn will still have to rely on human hands for the foreseeable future. In June, a report claimed the firm would be hiring some 100,000 employees in ramp up to production of Apple's next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to start in July."

?

 

What's contradictory? Demand is increasing faster than they can install robots.

post #14 of 108
Anyone know what the cost benefit of running a fully automated line in china vs the us is? I thought the big draw in china was cheap labor -- get rid of that and is it only tax incentives?
post #15 of 108

Hell, Foxconn could pay me $20,000-$25,000 this year to assemble 30 theoretical iPhones this year.

post #16 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

This is great news if it turns out to be true!

Last I heard, robots do not get a salary, they do not require room and board, they do not strike and they do not jump off of roofs.

In one of the previous threads about Foxconn from a while ago, I'm pretty sure that I mentioned something that Foxconn should get rid of as many human workers as possible.

This is also great news for those people who like to slander Apple and complain about Foxconn workers being underpaid. Now they don't have to be paid at all! Haha, that's awesome! Perhaps one of the slanderers of Apple can hire them now, unless they're all talk and no action.1cool.gif

I'd much rather have robots making my devices than humans. Robots are more precise, they're not affected by mood, and they can complete the same boring task over and over again without any complaints.

Foxconn gets two thumbs up from me if they do go ahead with this move!1smoking.gif  

I hope you're just being sarcastic.
post #17 of 108
Well there would have to be skilled human workers to service the robots. At least until someone makes robots to service those robots.

I'm genuinely concerned about the long term social consequences of robots replacing unskilled labor. If we get to a point where no-one can afford to buy the things which the robots produce then the whole system collapses.
post #18 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post
 

 

What's contradictory? Demand is increasing faster than they can install robots.

I guess strictly speaking not contradictory as they may well have robots working along side humans, but when I first read it the implication seemed to be first that robots might be replacing humans as early as iPhone 6 production, then that there's no way robots would be coming on line anytime soon.

post #19 of 108

Fair enough. I guess strictly speaking not contradictory as they may well have robots working along side humans, but when I first read it the implication seemed to be first that robots might be replacing humans as early as iPhone 6 production, then that there's no way robots would be coming on line anytime soon. (p.s. sorry for my messy threading here)

post #20 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Well there would have to be skilled human workers to service the robots. At least until someone makes robots to service those robots.
 

I wasn't aware that the robots would have, er, such needs.

post #21 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by NotScott View Post

That is one way to solve problems related to worker's rights - get rid of the workers.

Nope. These are two separate issues.

 

Essential workers indeed have rights and should demand them.

 

But those rights do NOT extend to the presevation of those jobs when they can indeed be replaced by robots. When job functions can be duplicated and improved upon by robots, then the answer is clear.

 

People interested in working should be flexible enough to predict the eventual loss of the jobs they're currently on and invest before they lose their jobs in training and/or re-location in order to prepare for new and better employment elsewhere.

 

Companies have responsibilities to their investors and to preserving the company's own wellbeing to always be improving productivity and viability. Employees' wages and benefits can only go so high before they become too expensive. Robots reduce the cost of production while increasing quality. They also relieve humans of drudgery and hazardous/dangerous working conditions.

 

If jobs disappear as a result, it's not the company's fault. They've simply moved beyond the need for those jobs.

 

It simply goes back to the need for individuals to prepare themselves for new, possibly different jobs with different skil sets. This means re-education. There's absolutely nothing wrong or unfair about this. It's call progress. If companies can progress, so can and should individuals progress in acquiring new job skills.

Daniel Swanson

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post #22 of 108
From an employment perspective it means that Chinese wages are rising fast enough to make it worthwhile investing in automation. It is cheaper to pay for robot installation for some jobs than compete on price (wages) for manual labour.


Sadly for some commenters, it's a zero sum game. Chinese people apparently can't get a job anywhere else but Foxconn, and aren't allowed to get paid more or get a better paying job.
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post #23 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Oak View Post

I'd like to see Apple using this effort to create a competitive moat. It is not clear from this that they are. If not, Foxconn will just flip the switch on for all vendors

That's selfish and silly. Foxconn should be able to benefit fully from this huge capital investment and be able to sell its services to all of its customers. Apple's competitive edge does not depend solely upon Foxconn's products, just as no competitor would suddenly gain an advantage over Apple simply from Foxconn's robotic production for them.

Daniel Swanson

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Daniel Swanson

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post #24 of 108
Last time I checked, 10 thousand times 30 thousand was three hundred million.

Sheesh Innumeracy on this site is a real problem. It's not just leaving off numbers: it's not making sense.

For a other example, ten thousand a year adds up to just under four an hour.

Is that what a robot can produce? 1 iPhone every 15 minutes?

I have no idea if that's fast or slow. It's just that I have no confidence in their answer.


Another thought. If see robots put that many people out of work, I foresee it could destabilize China

Confer arguments based on numbers are welcome.
post #25 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by cMka~+ View Post

Is it just me, or is

"[Foxconn] plans to roll out robots on assembly lines..., possibly in time for production of the so-called "iPhone 6.""

somewhat contradictory to

"...Foxconn will still have to rely on human hands for the foreseeable future. In June, a report claimed the firm would be hiring some 100,000 employees in ramp up to production of Apple's next-generation iPhone, which is rumored to start in July."

?

It's just you.

 

They'll probably be doing both simultaneously. It's called phase over.

 

It'll simply serve to demonstrate to all concerned how the robotically-produced products will come out faster and with fewer flaws than the ones produced by humans.

Daniel Swanson

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Daniel Swanson

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post #26 of 108
What? I thought this was going to be an article about ballroom dancing, not a mythical half fox half robot.
post #27 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post
a real asshole. I hope you're just being sarcastic.

 

I'll tell you who the real assholes in this story are.

 

Somebody like Mike Daisey is a real asshole, with his fraud of a monologue, where he lied and fabricated stories about those "poor workers" in China. If he's so concerned about them, then maybe he should hire them, now that quite a few of them will possibly be looking for new work. What a jerk.

 

Certain media outlets and some people who call themselves journalists are the real assholes in this story, especially those that would try to frame every single negative Foxconn story into an anti-Apple story, even though Apple is only one of Foxconn's many customers. The New York Times are real assholes for their strange anti-Apple reporting. This has been going on for years now.

 

Real assholes are people and groups who pretend to care about the workers, because at the end of the day, they're just clueless dipshits, spreading lies, misinformation and repeating poorly produced propaganda. They'll exaggerate and lie about almost everything regarding the workers. They're not poorly paid and their suicide rate is actually lower than that of many other groups. The workers should consider themselves lucky. 

 

This move to robots is a great move for Foxconn though, and it's also good for Apple, because the fewer workers there are, the less the chances are that we are going to read about any BS in the future coming from the usual suspects. So that's why I say, great job komrades! You did not disappoint me. Keep up the good work Mike Daisey! Soon you can probably make a show about how robots are poorly treated!:lol: 

post #28 of 108
Even the Mc Jobs getting chopped, only way to get ahead now is invest in the right companies
post #29 of 108

Oooh, then well get to watch some foxy-boting.

 

Also, as to the iPhone workers; I guess they'll have to be transferred to the division that builds the robots.

post #30 of 108
This is, of course, exactly what Steve Jobs was referring to when he told Obama, "Those jobs aren't coming back." He, along with the rest of us with a brain in our heads, knew that, even should manufacturing of iDevices come back on shore, it would only be through application of fully automated factories. This will begin with Foxconn, but eventually there will spring up small automated manufacturing lines here and in other places around the world. Apple will take advantage of these to provide reduce risk of manufacturing bottlenecks and disruptions while providing just-in-time production of its products to significant local markets and creation of some, but not many, local jobs for those who will manage and maintain the automated factories and logistics needed to supply them.
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post #31 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielSW View Post

That's selfish and silly. Foxconn should be able to benefit fully from this huge capital investment and be able to sell its services to all of its customers. Apple's competitive edge does not depend solely upon Foxconn's products, just as no competitor would suddenly gain an advantage over Apple simply from Foxconn's robotic production for them.

Right. Because Apple does not do strategic sourcing and mfg arrangements. Silly me

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post #32 of 108
I think they should call them Foxy Bots.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #33 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

Today: Foxbots.
Tomorrow: Droid Army.

But any Droid Army would run Android 2.3, and we all know Google can do no evil. 1wink.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #34 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Those robots look just like real people¡

Does the ¡ mean you are being sarcastic and the robots in the picture don't look like real people

post #35 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

Well there would have to be skilled human workers to service the robots. At least until someone makes robots to service those robots.

I'm genuinely concerned about the long term social consequences of robots replacing unskilled labor. If we get to a point where no-one can afford to buy the things which the robots produce then the whole system collapses.

 

That's where the vast majority of jobs are headed, first labor, then knowledge-based jobs, then even a lot of creativity-based jobs. There will come a day that a computer can design a better robot than a team of engineers can. We're going to need an entirely different social system. 

post #36 of 108
Here's something I've always wondered...

If these workers are only making around $1.87 per hour... and the work is grueling and hazardous...

What else could they be doing?

All the stories I've heard about Foxconn is people work long hours and live in horrible conditions just to send money home to their families. Thousands of people line up hoping they're lucky enough to get a job at Foxconn.

So if it wasn't for Foxconn... where else would they work?
post #37 of 108

Robots put workers out of jobs. So now we have thousands of workers that only know how to put iPhones together, unable to support themselves and their families.

post #38 of 108
Typical outdated comments about China. One of the biggest issues for factories in China is getting staff to work. This is because of the rapidly growing middle class and the reluctance to do labour intensive work. Ring any bells in the West?
post #39 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimpsen View Post
 

"Each Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year, meaning a release of 10,000 would theoretically yield 300,000 iPhones if tasked to that production line."

 

That 300,000 should be 300,000,000. But that conflicts with the later statement that Terry Gou predicted 1 million robots online by 2014 (I recall that statement from years ago). Either the Foxbots are far more capable than the robots originally mentioned by Gou, or some of the numbers in the article are wrong.

iPhones are produced on an assembly line.  If robots replace people, a single robot still doesn't build an iPhone.  If an iPhone takes 1000 steps to assemble, then 1,000 of these robots can produce 30,000 iPhones per year, and 10,000 can produce 300,000.  But I'm still skeptical the author has the numbers right!

post #40 of 108

Let them automate. The investment cost incurred buying, installing and maintaining such cutting edge equipment will outstrip any savings. They'll want to pass on that cost to their customers [Apple, etc] and Apple will walk to a competitor.

 

Full automation has never been successful at levels worth scrapping human oversight and coordination. Automated control systems are developed and flawed just like human beings. Kinematics is a great subject most M.E. programs never teach, and E.E. curriculum breeze over during a Robotics series.

Taking humans out of the loop is always a huge increase in development and time loss. Marrying the two is where you reach optimization points.

 

Attempting to extort your staff labor fees by threatening to obsolete humans is asking for your corporation to start churning out crap and later having mass recalls.

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