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

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 109
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Those robots look just like real people¡
  • Reply 2 of 109
    timmymantimmyman Posts: 31member
    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.

  • Reply 3 of 109
    notscottnotscott Posts: 247member
    That is one way to solve problems related to worker's rights - get rid of the workers.
  • Reply 4 of 109
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member

    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: 

  • Reply 5 of 109
    mavismavis Posts: 24member
    I believe a few zeroes were left off the number of devices 10,000 robots could produce in a year. ;)
  • Reply 5 of 109
    red oakred oak Posts: 907member
    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
  • Reply 7 of 109
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 358member

    "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.

  • Reply 8 of 109
    Guys, get the math right. 30,000 x 10,000 is 300 million iPhones. Not 300,000, as you have written.
  • Reply 9 of 109
    the cool gutthe cool gut Posts: 1,714member
    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.

     

    I know journalists aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, but does anyone at AppleInsider know grade 3 math?

  • Reply 10 of 109
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

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

  • Reply 11 of 109
    cmka~+cmka~+ Posts: 34member
    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."

    ?
  • Reply 13 of 109
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    Today: Foxbots.
    Tomorrow: Droid Army.
  • Reply 14 of 109
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    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.

  • Reply 15 of 109
    icarbonicarbon Posts: 196member
    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?
  • Reply 16 of 109

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

  • Reply 17 of 109
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    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:  

    I hope you're just being sarcastic.
  • Reply 18 of 109
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,254member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 109
    cmka~+cmka~+ Posts: 34member
    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.

  • Reply 20 of 109
    cmka~+cmka~+ Posts: 34member

    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)

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