In brief: It’s no secret that robots are heavily involved in manufacturing, often at the expense of human jobs, and a Sony factory that builds the PlayStation 4 is no different. Its assembly line pumps out a fully functional console in just 30 seconds, and only four people are involved in the process.
As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, the factory, operated by Sony’s manufacturing arm Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations, is found on the outskirts of Kisarazu across the bay from Tokyo.
The facility's 103-foot assembly line for the PlayStation 4 was completed in 2018. The assembly is done entirely by robots, with the only humans involved directly being the two that feed motherboards onto the line, and two that package the finished consoles.
The Kisarazu plant has 32 robots, supplied by Mitsubishi Electric, 26 of which are dedicated solely to attaching wires, tape, and other flexible parts to the consoles—a complex task that most robots would find too finicky. The PS4’s flexible flat cable, for example, requires one robot arm to hold up the cable and another to twist it. The cable then needs to be attached in the right direction with just the right amount of pressure.
“There’s probably no other site that can manipulate robots in this manner,” said one of the site’s engineers. “The blend of robotic and human labor is painstakingly optimized with a prority on return on investment.”
It’s unclear whether the more complex PlayStation 5 will also zoom through an assembly line in just 30 seconds, though a mostly automated process seems likely. We recently saw a photo of what’s alleged to be a PS5 that just came off a line, but the image could easily be a fake.