Foxconn planning to replace many of its hard-working human workers with about 1 million robots in the next three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday.
The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years, according to Gou.
Foxconn, the world's largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions.
The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers' dance party Friday night.
The robots will be used to accomplish basic tasks like spraying, wielding, and assembling.
Foxconn currently employs 1.2 million people, therefore one million robots could potentially be a big hit on employment in Chinese mainland.
The most important thing to note here is that most of the repetitive tasks associated with manufacturing - placing components, closing cases, applying decals and paint, and testing - are all done by hand. Although we imagine that the manufacturing industry is run by huge, Transformer-like robots that plop out fully formed iPads in a wicked silicon satire of human reproduction, there are actual people involved in almost every step of the process. We are literally not far off from the Industrial Revolution here.
Where will those hands who once snapped our plastic geegaws together go once the robots arrive? Probably to the unemployment line, which is another matter entirely.
[Source: Xinhua News Agency]