Foxconn insists robot workers will assist, not replace, human workers on iPhone 6 assembly line

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Date: Wednesday, July 9th, 2014, 11:33
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

The Foxbots will work alongside and assist their human counterparts and won’t actually replace them…

Per Taiwan’s United Daily News, the 10,000 robotic workers deployed by Foxconn will play a limited role alongside the humans. According to industry insiders, the robots will assist in iPhone 6 production by locking down screws, polishing parts and performing menial duties once installed on the assembly line.

cisco robots, self-healing assembly lines

The article states that human workers will still be required for final assembly and quality control, albeit the robot-to-human ration remains unclear. The robots are expected to roll out at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, which is responsible for manufacturing Apple’s top-tier iPhone products.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou on Sunday said his company’s Foxbots have reached the final stage of testing and would see deployment in at least one major factory. For its first rollout, the firm is reportedly planning to field as many as 10,000 robots at a cost of US$20,000 to US$25,000 each. Following the initial 10,000-unit batch, Gou said he expects Foxconn’s factories to get Foxbots at a rate of 30,000 per year.

Last November, the Zhengzhou plant supposedly hit capacity in making up for low iPhone 5s supplies, churning out some 500,000 units per day on a 24-hour operating schedule. At the time, production of the iPhone 5s was said to require 600 workers per assembly line, compared to 500 people for the previous generation iPhone 5.

If Tuesday’s report is accurate, Foxconn’s robot initiative may be a move to accelerate iPhone build times, not replace existing employees as previously thought. The theory jibes with rumors from June that claimed the firm will hire some 100,000 new workers in a ramp up to iPhone 6 production this month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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