Apple supplier Foxconn so far up to 40,000 'Foxbots' in China

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Apple's main assembly partner, Foxconn, has so far installed 40,000 production robots across China as it looks to minimize the number of people it employs, reports noted on Wednesday.









With the exception of some components like servo motors and speed reducers, the robots are being built entirely in-house, Foxconn's Dai Chia-peng told Taiwan's Central News Agency, as quoted by DigiTimes. It's unclear how many of the so-called "Foxbots" are being used to manufacture Apple products.



The machines are, however, said to be operating an industrial facility in Zhengzhou, a tablet plant in Chengdu, and computer/peripherals plants in Kunshan and Jiashan.



Dai commented that Foxconn is currently manufacturing 10,000 robots per year. Each one can potentially go far towards replacing human labor -- in Kunshan alone, Foxconn is known to have cut 60,000 workers.



Until recently it was often cheaper for Chinese companies to pay thousands or millions of people low wages rather than use robots. Rising labor standards and a lack of interest from young workers, however, has led some firms to make the high upfront investment in automation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US
    SpamSandwichbigjony0
  • Reply 2 of 19
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    If Foxconn installed robots I predicted Apple haters would say Apple products are putting poor Chinese people out of jobs. The same Apple haters who said Chinese workers were slaves.
    bigwatto_cobradesignrbadmonkjony0
  • Reply 3 of 19
    sockrolid said:
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US

    I believe Steve Jobs made the argument that the US doesn't have the thousands (or tens of thousands) of automation engineers (my phrase) required to do manufacturing at this scale.  I expect the same story would apply here; we don't have the thousands of people who could maintain an army of robots.  So, no I don't expect those Foxconn factories to be coming here.
    Solibiglolliverjony0
  • Reply 4 of 19
    sockrolid said:
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US


    Here's the quote from Jobs:

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/17/technology/apple-china-jobs/index.html

    Steve Jobs, Apple's late CEO, brought the issue up during an October 2010 meeting with President Obama. He called America's lackluster education system an obstacle for Apple, which needed 30,000 industrial engineers to support its on-site factory workers.

    "You can't find that many in America to hire," Jobs told the president, according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. "If you could educate these engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here."

    biglolliverjony0
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Fairly predictable outcome, given the overwrought reactions and hectoring, and all-around bad press from some employees committing suicide (I know, I know, even one suicide is a terrible thing; I am merely raising the empirical fact that suicide rates at Foxconn were less than in the Chinese population as a whole). The company had to put up with all manner of the Daiseys and the New York Times's of the world, as well as pesky NGOs showing up in droves with questionnaires to "audit" Foxconn's practices on behalf of the oh-so-moral-and-ethical corporations back home.

    Guess what comes home to roost? Robots and unemployment.

    /headshake
    biglolliver
  • Reply 6 of 19
    rcfarcfa Posts: 786member
    Wonder when we get to the point of robots committing suicide...
    cintos
  • Reply 7 of 19
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,356member
    rcfa said:
    Wonder when we get to the point of robots committing suicide...
    "We saw his error logs, but no one expected him to rm -rf /."
    edited October 2016 muadibequadra 610iqatedojustadcomicswatto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 8 of 19
    muadibemuadibe Posts: 133member
    Soli said:
    rcfa said:
    Wonder when we get to the point of robots committing suicide...
    "We saw his error logs, but no one expected him to rm -rf /."
    Haha! Good one.
  • Reply 9 of 19
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,675member
    They did not let go 60,000 works, it was 60,000 workers who never came back after the Chinese new year holiday. Every years Foxconn and other manufacturers in China loose workers who decide not to return to the factories. Most of these people are young women who go home with cash in hand they saved over many years of working and they go home and get married. Chinese women with money are very attractive to guys looking to get married and have a family.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,745member
    Soli said:
    rcfa said:
    Wonder when we get to the point of robots committing suicide...
    "We saw his error logs, but no one expected him to rm -rf /."

    Nicely done.  Lol
    iqatedo
  • Reply 11 of 19
    metrixmetrix Posts: 253member
    sockrolid said:
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US

    I believe Steve Jobs made the argument that the US doesn't have the thousands (or tens of thousands) of automation engineers (my phrase) required to do manufacturing at this scale.  I expect the same story would apply here; we don't have the thousands of people who could maintain an army of robots.  So, no I don't expect those Foxconn factories to be coming here.

  • Reply 12 of 19
    The jobs that robots CAN do well or better than humans SHOULD be done by them. That is indeed progress, as it frees humans to do more sophisticated and creative work. You can't really fault manufacturers for acquiring more production capacity and efficiency by "employing" robots. Sometimes, robots do tasks that are hazardous to humans.

    If there is a problem with robots eliminating jobs, it's the humans who got replaced who didn't predict the dark day of their being so replaced, and/or who didn't prepare themselves for jobs which can't be done by a machine, or at least won't be for a long time, yet.

    Anyone can learn anything, any time, regardless of age or circumstances. It simply takes observation, the will to learn, the dedication to learn, and resourcefulness in "making things go right", no matter what.


    designr
  • Reply 13 of 19
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 933member
    Humans will be in big trouble when those robots start making more robots.

    40,000 is a LOT of robots!
  • Reply 14 of 19
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,035member
    sockrolid said:
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US


    Here's the quote from Jobs:

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/17/technology/apple-china-jobs/index.html

    Steve Jobs, Apple's late CEO, brought the issue up during an October 2010 meeting with President Obama. He called America's lackluster education system an obstacle for Apple, which needed 30,000 industrial engineers to support its on-site factory workers.

    "You can't find that many in America to hire," Jobs told the president, according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. "If you could educate these engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here."

    Contentious idea: what if you lowered the barriers to getting such an education (cost)?

    It's not like there's a shortage of people in the US, and I certainly don't believe there's a shortage of motivated/bright people.  Getting enough educators/trainers might be tough (not impossible), but I believe that the cost of getting an education is the main factor in this shortage (not a lacklustre education system).

    I know the US mindset, in general, is: don't raise my taxes to help others -- I didn't get nothing for free, and neither should anyone else (everyone for themselves).  I'm not going to argue against that mindset (though it is one of the reasons why I have no interest in living in the US).  I'm simply going to argue that, if not government funded, perhaps corporations could help fund such an initiative since they'd be the ones ultimately benefitting from it.

    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 15 of 19
    40,000 robots to replace 60,000 workers? I thought robots were supposed to be a lot more efficient than humans, not only 50% more.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,491member
    40,000 robots to replace 60,000 workers? I thought robots were supposed to be a lot more efficient than humans, not only 50% more.
    These are Millennial robots.
    welshdogbadmonk
  • Reply 17 of 19
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,695member
    auxio said:
    sockrolid said:
    Step 1: Install robots in Foxconn factories
    Step 2: Move the factories to the US


    Here's the quote from Jobs:

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/17/technology/apple-china-jobs/index.html

    Steve Jobs, Apple's late CEO, brought the issue up during an October 2010 meeting with President Obama. He called America's lackluster education system an obstacle for Apple, which needed 30,000 industrial engineers to support its on-site factory workers.

    "You can't find that many in America to hire," Jobs told the president, according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson. "If you could educate these engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here."

    Contentious idea: what if you lowered the barriers to getting such an education (cost)?

    It's not like there's a shortage of people in the US, and I certainly don't believe there's a shortage of motivated/bright people.  Getting enough educators/trainers might be tough (not impossible), but I believe that the cost of getting an education is the main factor in this shortage (not a lacklustre education system).

    I know the US mindset, in general, is: don't raise my taxes to help others -- I didn't get nothing for free, and neither should anyone else (everyone for themselves).  I'm not going to argue against that mindset (though it is one of the reasons why I have no interest in living in the US).  I'm simply going to argue that, if not government funded, perhaps corporations could help fund such an initiative since they'd be the ones ultimately benefitting from it.

    I thought the same thing.  Seems like a big company with deep pockets . . . . . . um yeah, you know who I'm thinking of.  Could easily start an engineer "university" to train people up to their standards, while at the same time constructing a factory to employ the "graduates".  Factory is finished and starting up and grads are ready to go to work.  You just need a genius at operations and logistics.  Hmm, who could that be I wonder?
  • Reply 18 of 19
    If Apple is ever able to repatriate its overseas profits, expect to see robot factories like this pop up all over the country. Why build iPhones in China where they leak the prototypes to the highest bidder? Robots keep secrets.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,791member
    randominternetperson said:

    I believe Steve Jobs made the argument that the US doesn't have the thousands (or tens of thousands) of automation engineers (my phrase) required to do manufacturing at this scale.  I expect the same story would apply here; we don't have the thousands of people who could maintain an army of robots.  So, no I don't expect those Foxconn factories to be coming here.
    There are all manner of manufacturing that are required for making iPhones. The assembly robots are only one piece of the operation. There are many suppliers upstream from Foxconn and most of them are also using robots. In order to replicate the entire operation in the US you simply have to run the numbers to figure out that it is cost prohibitive. No matter how many robots you have, there is still a labor factor and in the US it is all much more expensive, not to mention the construction costs, environmental regulations, taxes, social security, employment insurance, infrastructure, and a host of other expenses that add up to be quite a bit more costly than simply shipping the finished product around the world from some third world country.
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