Foxconn is installing high-tech robots to help build the iPhone 6

By Shawn Knight
Jul 7, 2014
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  1. During a recent shareholders meeting, Foxconn chief executive Terry Gou revealed the company is replacing some of its staffers with robots. Apple, one of Foxconn's largest clients, will reportedly be the first to use the new robotic assembly techniques.

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  2. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar TS Evangelist Posts: 6,477   +965

    I think this is a good move. As long as it replaces the dangerous work, I am cool with that.
  3. Ranger12

    Ranger12 TS Guru Posts: 620   +118

    Just the dangerous work?
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,385   +2,171

    Dangerous or not, that eliminates a position that would otherwise generate income for a worker. I have no objections to automation, but that doesn't change the fact that every job a machine performs is one that a human doesn't. This goes quadruple for high volume manufacturing.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    It boggles my mind to think the average Chinese worker earns so much, that Foxconn will be replacing them with machines....:oops:

    What happened, did the minimum wage in China spike all the way up to a dollar fifty an hour or something?

    Oh well, to the upside, perhaps they'll be able to take their suicide news down....
  6. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 1,603   +411

    It's a double edged sword, because what about the people making the robots? They don't deserve jobs? We as consumers should get used to higher prices, because companies stick with manual labour to save jobs?

    It's a touchy subject. Robots are the future and we will have to adapt. There is no way around it. Money is everything.
    Jad Chaar likes this.
  7. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,114   +1,379

    Quote from I, Robot:
    Burty117 likes this.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,385   +2,171

    We can go up and down the labor chain all day in the quest to figure out who benefits from X or Y. My only point was that replacing a worker has the same direct economic impact on the worker regardless of whether his job is safe or not.

    I do agree with you on needing to adapt. Most of the low-skilled positions people have allowed themselves to become dependent on over the decades will be vanishing to automation over the next 20-30 years. Higher skill jobs will be replaced as well. The only way people will survive the purge is by staying ahead of the curve or starting their own businesses.
  9. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar TS Evangelist Posts: 6,477   +965

    Great point.
  10. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    The bigger impact is that when we don't need the low-paid worker anymore we can close the plant and move it back to the US and save on the shipping costs of the finished products. Those robots will cost the same to run back here in the US, and perhaps even less to maintain and support.

    There's going to be a break-even point; where once they replace enough workers with robots, then the whole plant can be moved.

    Honestly it's all speculation. I'd say all we can really be sure of is that some hard working Chinese are going to lose their jobs. And since they often live at the plant, they'll be moving too.
    MonsterZero likes this.
  11. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,385   +2,171

    Unfortunately, the situation doesn't simplify so easily. While in theory you remove shipping expenses, cost of operation doesn't necessarily translate as cleanly across borders. Regulatory (compliance) fees, energy costs, and special arrangements they have with Chinese government offices and other members of their supply chain can easily outweigh the shipping expense. More importantly, there is the exchange rate to consider.

    The U.S. will become more attractive under a devalued dollar, but I find it difficult to believe they'd move production from China to the U.S. ceteris paribus. There will have to be a significant external factor.
    Sancticide likes this.
  12. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,729   +1,093

    Oh, I'm sure Apple has already done a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. And I doubt any of the things we can think up here can compete with probably the biggest and most complicated factor in finding a home for a plant... Taxes.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    Picture, if you will, a mall being built. The politicians will blow a bunch of sunshine up the town folk's behinds to the tune of, "look at all the construction jobs this will create. Yeah for the new mall!

    So, the mall gets built, the construction jobs dry up, and all that remains are minimum wage jobs, for people selling Chinese goods.

    Oh wait, I almost forgot. Everybody's real estate tax doubles with five miles of the new white elephant.

    Basically the same thing might hold true for the people that build the robots. They move on, and the new fab is peopled with a few robot repairmen, and a janitor or 3.

    It seems to me that continued building of these machines, could turn on a dime, and be as unpredictable as your average defense contract.........(wait for it)........without the "accidental cost overruns".

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