Apple’s biggest manufacturer says production will return to normal by end of March

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Coronavirus-related shutdowns continue to disrupt Chinese factories.
Coronavirus has severely impacted Foxconn production.
Photo: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr CC

Apple manufacturer Foxconn hopes to resume regular production in China by the end of March.

Foxconn’s operations, which include iPhone production lines, have been severely impacted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer previously said it expects its full-year revenues to take a hit.

“Prevention of outbreak, resumption of work and production are our top priority,” Chairman Liu Young-Way told an online investor conference Tuesday. He also said more than half of Foxconn’s seasonal workers in China have now restarted work after the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Foxconn production on track in March

Foxconn has taken multiple steps to get back on track following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The company set up a production line making surgical masks, installed infrared scanners in its plants, and developed a smartphone app that sends alerts to employees if they go too close to infection hotspots.

It also started offering new perks to try and get employees back to work. These include free shuttle bus travel, free meals and increased bonuses. Foxconn implemented the measures after its most critical iPhone-assembly plant reopened last month with fewer than 10% of its usual workforce.

Recently, Foxconn hired 83-year-old scientist Zhong Nanshan, the man credited with finding the right way to treat the previous SARS coronavirus, to advise the company on its coronavirus prevention and rehabilitation efforts.

It’s not yet clear how much of an impact Foxconn’s problems will have on the company’s biggest client, Apple. Reuters notes that the timeline for manufacturing of next-gen iPhones could be “under threat” as a result.

At this time of year, Apple engineers normally fly to China to start figuring out the details for iPhone assembly ahead of new models’ customary fall launch. However, travel bans resulting from the COVID-19 virus outbreak stopped this from happening.