Foxconn Technology Co Ltd (TPE:2354) (OTCMKTS:FXCOF) hopes to incorporate robotic technology into iPhone factories to assist workers on the job. The so-called Foxbots assist factory workers with the simplest tasks by polishing parts and locking screws. Industry insiders claim the robots won’t replace the workers.
Why Foxconn still needs factory workers
Factory workers will still be required for final assembly as well as quality control. The robot-to-human ratio is still unknown. Foxconn is expected to roll out the new robots at one of the Zhenghou facility which manufactures Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhone. The CEO of Foxconn, Terry Gou, claims the Foxbots just reached the last testing stage and would be deployed to at least one factory.
He added that during the first rollout, they will deploy about 10,000 robots with about 30,000 robots per year. Late last year, Foxconn ran into trouble when the Zhenghou factory hit capacity when manufacturing the iPhone 5S only churning out 500,000 devices within a 24-hour period. The assembly line for the iPhone 5S required 600 employees per assembly line compared to the iPhone 5 which required about 500 employees.
Foxconn’s plan to simplify manufacturing
It appears Foxconn and Apple are working together to simplify the manufacturing process. Foxconn has been notoriously known as a hostile workplace as several employees committed suicide in the last few years. This prompted the manufacturing company to build nets around the majority of its facilities. Two years ago, ABC News even took a tour of the factory to report on working conditions. Although nothing alarming was reported, it was noted that the factory’s standards would be considered “soul-crushing” by American standards.
It is predicted Apple will unveil two versions of the next generation iPhone including a 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch. Both versions are likely to receive a design makeover complete with a thinner chassis that looks similar to current iPads and even more premiums features. The phablet may receive extra storage and optical image stabilization. The new phones are expected to debut sometime in mid September.