Manufacturing jobs are increasingly being taken over by robots as automating factories and production lines turns out to be more cost-effective for companies. Foxconn, a China-based manufacturer that has long produced iPhones for Apple, has laid out a three-phase plan in which it’s going to replace almost all of its human workers with robots. So much for moving iPhone production out of China and possibly to the United States!
A manager with the Foxconn Automation Technology Development Committee, Dai Jia-peng, told Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes that the company is working on a three-phase plan to replace human workers with robots.
The first phase will see a factory replacing human workers with robots at individual workstations. These robots will initially perform tasks that are considered too dangerous for humans or just the tasks that human workers simply don’t want to do. The second stage will see the robots being scaled up to take over entire production lines and when that’s done, the third phase will involve keeping only the bare minimum human workers on the floor for oversight, inspection, and testing.
Dai mentioned that Foxconn factories in Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Zhengzhou have already reached the second and third phases. Almost half of the iPhones produced by Foxconn are manufactured at the Zhengzhou factory where only a CNC line has been fully automated so far.
Foxconn has deployed 40,000 of its robot workers so far and Dai mentions that the company is capable of building 10,000 of these robots annually.