Future iOS Devices Could Be Built By Machines As Foxconn Replaces Workers With Robots

Future iOS Devices Could Be Built By Machines As Foxconn Replaces Workers With Robots

This “Foxbot” could soon be building Apple’s latest gadgets.

Apple gadgets you buy in the future may have been assembled by machines as Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, Foxconn, begins replacing its workers with robots. The move is expected to improve efficiency in Foxconn’s Chinese plants, as well as combat rising labor costs.

Foxconn, who is China’s largest private-sector employer with more than 1.2 million workers, announced last year that it plans to replace one million humans with robots within the next three years. It has now begun that process with an initial batch of 10,000 machines that it has named “Foxbots.”

Another 20,000 robots are due by the end of the year, CNET reports. Each one costs between $20,000 and $25,000 each, which is said to be around three times the amount of the average Foxconn worker’s salary. While the initial cost of deploying Foxbots will be significant, they’re sure to save cash over time.

Foxconn has been scrutinized for its treatment of factory workers over the years, with underage employment, poor wages, illegal overtime, and worker suicides becoming a major issue throughout its plants. Before Foxconn announced its robot initiative last August, at least 16 workers had committed suicide since the beginning of 2010.

Apple has been working with the company throughout 2012 to improve the working conditions in its factories, however. The Cupertino company has also sought help from the Chinese Fair Labor Association, which has carried out inspections to highlight the areas in which Foxconn must improve.

  • technochick

    These devices are too small and delicate to be machine assembled with the robots available at this time. The best they might do is a machine to box them and/or shrink wrap the boxes.

    Now in four or five years they might have machines that can do it.

  • FriarNurgle

    It’s the only logical future course of action for manufacturing. We might even be able to bring some assembly back into the states.

  • B066Y

    It’s the only logical future course of action for manufacturing. We might even be able to bring some assembly back into the states.

    That would be great for buying American made goods (lower costs). But what happens to those people who aren’t able to qualify for anything but manual labor type jobs. Not everyone is college material…I know that’s not the politically correct thing to say these days but it’s true. There are some people out there that are incapable of anything but low-wage/manual labor type jobs and that’s not counting the percentage of people too lazy to try and get ahead in the world.

  • camfotluc

    What company will be providing the robots? ABB Group?

  • RadTech5000

    If machines are going to be building Apple products of the future maybe they can now finally bring the factories to the US? Built in the USA by machines still looks better then Built in China.

  • ActionableMango

    One step closer to the first Cylon war.

  • volodoscope

    Even if manufacturing comes back to US with future robots and assembly line, China will still hold the largest stockpiles of rare minerals. Any electronic device has traces of really rare metals and minerals. China will not allow shipment of these metals to US because it knows that their economy will do downhill.

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a staff writer based in the U.K. He has an interest in all things tech and also covers Android over at CultofAndroid.com. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell.

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