The Taiwanese giant responsible for manufacturing Apple’s smart units as well as various other major electronic devices is looking to dispose of its human personnel and fully replace the workers with robots in the near future. For this purpose, Foxconn has set in place a three-phase plan in order to provide its Chinese factories with robotics units and specifically designed software in an effort to fully automate the work environment.
The machines Foxconn is planning on rolling out, dubbed Foxbots, will take over repetitive work that humans are otherwise unwilling to perform or be used in dangerous processes during the initial phase of the program.
For the second phase, Foxconn aims to reduce the numbers of robots in use in an attempt to drastically improve efficiency. Ultimately, the final phase involves keeping only a small number of employees working in factories. They would be assigned for logistics, inspection processes, production, and testing, says the general manager of Foxconn’s automation committee, Dai Jia-peng.
By implementing the aforementioned three-phase plan, the company hopes to achieve a 30 percent automation benchmark by 2020. So far, Foxconn has been able to produce approximately 10,000 Foxbots per year which will later be used in the initial phase of Dai Jia-peng’s automation plan.
As of March 2016, the company says it has replaced roughly 60,000 human workers with robots at one of its Chinese factories. Even though the initial investment may prove to be rather costly, using machines instead of human workers could save the company some expenses in the long run. However, because robots take time to be programmed in order to perform a certain task and are even harder to reprogram to work outside its initial function, the transition may come at a risk.
Another stumbling block in Foxconn’s plan may be the Chinese government itself which has lately incentivized human employment. In 2015, Foxconn hired approximately 1.2 million people because of the billions of dollars in bonuses the Chinese government has doled out in areas like Zhengzhou, Chengdu, and Shenzen, allowing the company to expand.
Nevertheless, Dai Jia-peng says that several factories have already reached the second phase of the automation plan and are on the course of becoming fully automated in several years’ time.
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