Foxconn Starts Deploying Robotic Arms, Replacing Workers

Foxconn is one of the key parts of Apple’s Asia-based supply chain. The manufacturer had earlier stated plans of employing robotic arms on the assembly line to automate the process. And now, it seems that the company is living up to those plans, reports Wall Street Journal.

Foxconn workers

Foxconn hasn’t officially announced that it has started making use of robotic arms on assembly line. Back in June, the company mentioned it to the shareholders that it has plans of deploying robots to automate the process of manufacturing as far as possible. Foxconn further promised that it would be making use of ‘the best robots in the industry.’

However, it is rather strange to note that the company has embarked on this plan without as much as an announcement. It may be that it is trying to test-run the robots on its assembly lines to see if things work smoothly.

According to a Foxconn worker, he has been working on a Foxconn assembly line for the past two years. However, he has recently been reallocated to a different position, along with some 25 of his colleagues. The assembly line that he formerly worked on utilized 20 to 30 workers but now it is handled by a mere 5 people who essentially control the robots working there.

Foxconn has also expressed plans of venturing into North America and establishing its manufacturing facilities there. Apple took to Asian supply chain partners primarily because of the availability of cheaper labor there. So the reason why Foxconn may be planning a North American plant may be that the company is planning to make use of robots in the plant, in place of labor which would certainly be costlier there.

If indeed that is Foxconn’s strategy that may also give other American companies a roadmap for the future. Americans are increasingly becoming conscious of the overseas manufacturing services hired by different American companies. And there’s a surging demand that the manufacturing process be shifted back to the U.S. The use of robots can significantly resolve the labor costs problems for such companies.

Source: WSJ

Courtesy: The Verge

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Salman Latif is a software engineer with a specific interest in social media, big data and real-world solutions using the two.Other than that, he is a bit of a gypsy. He also writes in his own blog. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter .

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