Foxconn, one of the largest manufacturers in the world, announced that it will replace most of its workforce with robots made by the company itself, called Foxbots.
In an interview with Digitimes, Dai Jia-Peng, general manager in Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee, stated that Foxconn already began the automating process and that the process is comprised out of three stages. The company already built 40,000 Foxbots and has the capacity to construct 10,000 Foxbots every year.
The first stage will replace humans with robots in tasks that are too dangerous for human workers and in tasks that human workers refuse to perform. The automation process will then reach its second phase, removing redundant robots and streamlining the production process.
The third and final stage includes almost complete automation, keeping only human workers used for things like logistics, testing, and inspection. This means that in the near future, Foxconn will get rid of the better part of its human workforce. Dai Jia-Peng says that some Foxconn factories located in China already entered the second or third phase of automation.
According to Jia-Peng, “There are 10 lights-out (fully automated) production lines at some factories, including table one in Chengdu, AIO (all-in-one) PC and LCD monitor lines at a factory in Chongqing, western China, and a CNC line in Zhengzhou.”
Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factory is the largest factory owned by the company. The factory makes up to 500,000 iPhone units per day and is often called “the iPhone city.” Since Foxconn employs about 1 million human workers in China at the moment, the automation process will cause for hundreds of thousands of workers to lose their jobs; this is the other, darker, side of the automation process.