Robots start replacing humans in Foxconn factories (the company that makes devices for Apple, Sony, and more)

Foxconn, responsible for manufacturing hardware of companies like Apple, Sony, Nintendo and more, has begun replacing factory workers with robots. These plans were made known by the company as far back as last year and are now beginning to come to fruition. According to a report by CNET, 10,000 of these robots have arrived in one of Foxconn’s multiple factories and 20,000 more are expected before the end of 2012.

It isn’t entirely clear what these robots will be responsible for doing but will likely replace repetitive tasks that can easily be done by a brainless, programmable robot, like putting parts together.

A notable piece of information in this report is the cost of production for one of these robots, which is around 20,000 to 25,000 USD. This is thrice the average annual salary of a normal factory worker at Foxconn. Despite how costly of an endeavor this is, however, the benefit of increased efficiency and, more importantly, significantly less chances for suicides must have been the deciding factor. Plus, assuming these robots have a long useful life and low maintenance costs, Foxconn will easily recoup their upfront costs in a few years.

[via CNET, image via TechWeb]

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8 comments

  1. Josh

    @Rob (Down Under):

    I was fortunate to visit a factory of a well known car manufacturing company in Thailand way back in 1979. The factory produced 50,000 car engines per month. There were only 123 human employees, who were mainly responsible for maintaining the robotic infrastructure of the factory. Robots did most of the production work.

    Whilst robots are replacing many workers, the robotics industry and, lately, the associated computer technology, has also created many opportunities for employment and the establishment of new small businesses.

    Sadly, the general population looses out, as more jobs are lost than gained.

    On a different note, I fully agree with you that overpopulation is at the root of most of the world’s current problems and covers a wide spectrum.

  2. clockmendergb

    So China will start having rising unemployment.
    They will have less workers paying taxes.
    This will cause a reduction in the middle and working class,
    This means less money into the exchequer and more going out to the poor.

    I swear I have seen this before somewhere.

  3. Enrique

    I get that. But that wouldn’t mean it would be the same as today, except that the “less technical” jobs would be unavailable, leaving all those people without opportunity instead? I see your point though, but personally I’d much rather see a future where we have robots simply assisting us in our lives and jobs and not replacing any of us. Except for the few exceptions of course like those that are life-threatening or impossible for us to do in the first place.

  4. Rob (Down Under)

    @Enrique:
    I was slinging off at my prediction ability.
    I bet the majority of the world’s population would love if my prediction had come true.
    It is obvious now that the human race is too flawed for my prediction to come true.
    If it had come true, and there was high demand for the intelligent/skilled jobs, then we could all apply, and the best would get the jobs

    PS The nightmare future that I now predict will become 10 times worse, unless the world addresses the worlds GREATEST PROBLEM. ( Not Carbon Taxes, Not climate change)
    IMMEDIATELY cease population growth, and have plans to further reduce the population.

  5. Enrique

    @Rob (Down Under): That sounds like a great future on paper but who chooses who gets to be well off? Only white collar workers are left and every laborer has to adhere to the “free” sort of life? It could potentially be a good thing, but it’ll be very difficult to implement or transition to I think.

  6. Rob (Down Under)

    Back in the 50’s I was top of my High School in science (and got the school prize).
    I also was an avid science fiction reader.
    So I could predict the future.
    I predicted that robots/automation would take over most of the jobs.
    I also predicted that this boon would allow ALL OF US to live for free in modest accommodation, and be provided with adequate food, etc.
    There would still be jobs that required human intelligence, or particular skills, and those THAT FELT INCLINED, could work in those jobs, and attain a much higher standard of living.
    HOW ARE MY PREDICTIONS GOING ?

    (If I had also been top of the school in psychology , I would have realized that a vast majority of the human race are not nice people, and the majority of us will be out of jobs, and will have to be fenced out, to stop us attacking the few that are well off.)