The robots are taking over!
Foxconn Electronics in China has announced that it plans to automate its entire workforce in its efforts to increase output and decrease production costs.
The conversion process is set to take place in three stages.
In the first stage, individual automated work stations will be set up to tackle work that is considered too dangerous to be done manually. In the second stage, the company will then work on streamlining its operations so that entire production lines can be operated with less robotic intervention.
In the third and final stage, the company will be moving forward to automate as many tasks as possible, with as little human intervention possible. Manual labour will only be required to make sure automated tasks are carried out to spec, but actual production line labour will be done away with entirely in favour of robot intervention.
General manager Dai Jia-peng of Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee mentioned that many of their factories are already in the second or third stages, with some operating completely fully automated.
Foxconn has deployed more than 40,000 Foxbots, industrial robots developed and produced in house, at factories in China.
Foxconn can produce about 10,000 Foxbots a year. In addition to industrial robots, Foxconn is developing robots for use in medical care.
Although robotic technology keeps improving, industrial robots will not be able to completely replace workers because humans have the flexibility to quickly switch from one task to another.
When Foxconn comes to mind, many may think about iPhones, but the manufacturing company also provides services to other big brand names like Dell, HP, Google, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Huawei, Nintendo, Sony, and others.
The company is under pressure to cut costs as profits slumped a little over 19% at the end of December as compared to the year before, but they are hoping to make a comeback once more of their factories are automated in time for the iPhone 8 (or whatever it’s going to be called) launch.