Behind the Future: Foxconn Robots will make iPhones
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Behind the Future: Foxconn Robots will make iPhones

Behind the Future: Foxconn Robots will make iPhones

While on one side, Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn is known as a producer of our beloved iGadgets, on the other side, it is also identified for providing inhumane working conditions for its employees especially in its Shenzhen based units.

Perhaps, replacing workers with robots is one possible way to fix the tarnished image. For this Foxconn CEO Terry Gou unveiled his plans to multiply his robotic power. At present Foxconn uses 10,000 robots to back up 1.2 million employees whereas, within a year’s time, the number of robots will be increased to 300,000, and in the next three years to come, company plans to put one million robots to work. These robots will be made to do mundane tasks like spraying, welding, and assembling, which are currently done by humans. They are made to perform a 3-second long action repeatedly for more than 10 hours a day.

This is certainly a good development that would enable Foxconn to improve its working conditions while creating sophisticated products. Total of 20 suicides had already been reported due to the unbearable life at the industrial compound. According to workers, working environment is more like working in a cage or a prison because of which the Shenzhen factory has come under scrutiny.


According to an investigation by Global Post, illegal overtime hours, termination without notice and hourly wages being less than a dollar are common among gadget factories in China. Workers whose overtime hours should not exceed more than 36 hours per month, as per Chinese labor laws; it is averaged between 50-80 hours every month. Besides extra working hours, workers are often humiliated instead of direct termination, if they make any mistake. Foxconn is not the only company whose workers face such conditions, but probably due to its association with Apple, it is most notable.

In a way, manufacturing robots is certainly going to be beneficial for Foxconn, as they are more efficient, do not require a paycheck, food and lodgings except a routine maintenance. However, is it safe to bet such a huge investment when Apple is already keeping its eye on Pegatron to assemble its upcoming iPad 3? Moreover, robots can probably replace human workers, but can they complement their duties?

Overall, the plan to replace human beings by robots can help the company to make up for its blemished image, but the idea is to improve the overall working conditions whereas the replacement would leave millions unemployed if not absorbed by the company for some other role than manufacturing.

Maybe, Foxconn should look at a solution that does not involve chucking out thousands of workers. Or, it may be true that the company is planning to replace the workers with robots, only to cut down on the labor cost in the disguise of improving working conditions.

Amanda Kidd is a blogger who also happens to be bike lover and has become a fan of the latest bikes launched by BMW. She is very fascinated by the luxury world and hence, is planning to write an article on the most expensive house or vehicles in the world. Beside this she also provide her readers with the tech help regarding hacking.

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  1. ben

    September 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    This is a stunning news. Emerging markets are the most populated countries on earth and Foxconn, the largest employeer in China dare to replace its workforce with robot. Chinese government should prohibit such behaviors.

    • Olawale Daniel

      September 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Hi Ben, thanks for your comment on my blog. Hope to see you once more 🙂

  2. Leisa Dreps

    December 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    That sounds pretty futuristic. Only time will tell if robots would be more effective – cost and production wise – than humans. For now it’s interesting that a company like that is upping the robotic power, which would hopefully improve the current state of FoxxConn.

    • Matt Sutherland

      December 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      Leisa, that time has come and gone. Replacing humans with automation to cut costs has already been proven. Go into any distribution center and see the massive sortation units. Those machines replaced hand picking, packing, shipping, etc. and sent dozens, sometimes hundreds, of workers home. This is already a reality.


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