supply chain

Bad news for Xmas: Apple’s largest factory forced into ‘total lockdown’

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Foxconn building
Foxconn is Apple's biggest contract manufacturer.
Photo: Puddingworld, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikimedia Commons

Days after reports of Foxconn employees hopping fences and fleeing from their jobs, a report late Wednesday from Taiwan News says Apple’s biggest iPhone factory is now on “total lockdown.” These new restrictions may have a big impact on Apple’s sales during the crucial holiday period.

Foxconn, whom Apple contracts to manufacture the lion’s share of iPhones, Macs and other Apple products, has had employees stay in on-site dormitories in a “closed-loop system” to prevent COVID outbreaks. Employees have been complaining about the “increasingly unsafe and inhumane working conditions” of the dorms.

Apple makes $50 million commitment to supplier employee development

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Apple supplier development fund
'We put people first in everything that we do.'
Photo: Apple

Apple on Wednesday revealed a new Supplier Employee Development Fund that will offer $50 million to expand access to learning and skills development.

The fund includes new partnerships with leading right advocates, universities, and nonprofits, Apple said. Cupertino will also focus on working alongside supply chain partners to “amplify worker voice” and support rights programs.

Genius tweak for security cams is just the start of Wyze’s COVID-19 response

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Wyze Cam
This Wyze Cam can be converted to a webcam.
Photo: Wyze

A company that makes low-cost home security cameras doesn’t sound like an organization you’d call for help in the fight against COVID-19 as it sweeps across the United States.

Wyze didn’t wait for a call.

Located in Kirkland, Washington, close to where the first U.S. cases surfaced, the company used its worldwide connections and ingenuity to help the local medical community fight the coronavirus pandemic. But it also helped consumers stuck at home better use Wyze’s iOS-compatible security cameras as webcams.

Apple faces big challenges in building a supply chain in India

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india
Apple is doing all it can to grow in India.
Illustration: Cult of Mac

Apple became a trillion-dollar tech giant thanks to its deep and intricate ties to China for manufacturing and component supplies.

But a coronavirus that began in China has left that giant a little shaky on its feet and dizzy from renewed questions over why Apple hasn’t developed a more diverse strategy for building the world’s most popular personal computing devices.

It’s definitely not from a lack of trying as pointed out Thursday in an article by The Information, which took a deep-dive into Apple’s arduous path through India.

AirTags on the radar for roll out in the second half of 2020

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New evidence shows AirTags closer than ever to release
Here's how AirTags will work on your iPhone.
Photo: MacRumors

Apple’s fall product launch will include a tiny gadget with a big responsibility: knowing the whereabouts of your devices when you lose them.

AirTags, a circular Bluetooth tracking keychain attachment similar to Tile, got on the radar of supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who reported news Tuesday on the supplier charged with producing the circuitry.

Apple reportedly adding another supplier for its ultra-popular AirPods Pro

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Apple reportedly adding another supplier for its ultra-popular AirPods Pro
Apple is doing its darndest to keep up with demand.
Photo: Apple

Apple is seemingly having a supplier shakeup to kickstart the 2020s — with Cupertino shifting production for some of its biggest products to other manufacturers. Including adding another supplier for its ultra-popular AirPods Pro.

According to longtime Apple analyst Ming-Chi, Apple will be making changes to the suppliers of the AirPods Pro, the S-series chips for the next-gen Apple Watch, the iPod touch and the non-cellular iPad.

Apple accused of exploiting underage labor in the Congo

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Apple accused of exploiting underage labor in the Congo
Underage labor was used for mining in the Congo.
Photo: Jeff Keyzer/Flickr CC

A lawsuit from plaintiffs from the Democratic Republic of Congo claims that Apple is among the companies willfully exploiting the use of underage labor for cobalt mining for lithium-ion batteries.

It claims that “young children” are being forced to work full time dangerous mining jobs. They are “regularly maimed and killed” by hazards such as tunnel collapses.

Wall Street worries put the hurting on Apple’s suppliers too

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iPhone 8 Foxconn box
A whole lot of companies rely on Apple.
Photo: Feng

It’s not just Apple which relies on, well, Apple to make money. There’s a whole ecosystem of other companies orbiting the giant Cupertino sun, too. And they’re all affected by whatever news raises or lowers Apple’s share price.

That’s what took place this week when Wall Street’s latest wobble about Apple sent out shockwaves through the supply chain. As a result, a whole lot of companies which do business with Apple suffered their own sympathy stock declines.

Huawei spies reportedly tried to get their hands on Apple secrets

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Chinese company Huawei wants the media buzz that would come with releasing the world's first foldable phone.
Report claims that Huawei tried to get information from Apple suppliers.
Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr CC

Huawei may have overtaken Apple in terms of overall smartphone sales, but it apparently believes it’s still got a lot to learn from the Cupertino giant.

According to a new report, Huawei tried to glean information about future Apple products from supply chain sources. This information included details about the Apple Watch’s heart rate-tracking tech and MacBook Pro connector cables.

Apple has a new plan for cutting down manufacturing costs

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MacBook butterfly keyboard
Apple is now handling ordering for even tiny components like MacBook screws.
Photo: Apple

Apple is known for exerting a lot of control over the manufacturing of its products, and it’s reportedly set to ramp up this control even further.

Beginning with its new MacBook models, Apple will reportedly carry out direct pricing negotiations for the screws and assorted non-key metallic and plastic parts used on its devices, which are currently purchased directly by its contracted supply partners.

Does iPhone X show that Apple’s ‘lost its supply chain mojo’?

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iphone X3
Apple's supply chain may no longer be quite so brilliant.
Photo: Apple

Apple has “lost its supply chain mojo,” claims a new report, suggesting that this year’s iPhone refresh has highlighted that Apple’s once-enviable supply chain brilliance is no longer quite so, well, brilliant.

While there have been component issues Apple has dealt with in the past, this year’s iPhone X manufacturing process has been particularly prone to problems, with the upshot being that supply of the in-demand device is unlikely to match with demand until well into 2018.

Apple Watch competition hots up with second supplier

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Apple Watch
It will deliver a big boost to one Apple supplier.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has reportedly added a second Apple Watch supplier to its manufacturing chain.

Until now, Quanta Computer has been the only assembler of Apple’s wearable, but Compal Electronics is expected to begin shipping Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 units in the second half of 2017.

Apple’s supply chain gets a bit more humane

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Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 16.18.28
Apple is becoming a "force for good" in the world.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s worked hard to improve its supply chain condition in 2016, with a special focus on improving working conditions and protecting the planet.

In doing so, the company claims it “raises the bar higher for its suppliers and the industry.” Check out some of the highlights below.

This ugly case disguises iPhone prototypes in the wild

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Apple is ultra-protective of prototype iPhones.
Apple is ultra-protective of prototype iPhones.
Photo: Sonny Dickson

It’s no secret that Apple loves to keep products secret, but thanks to a new leak we can now see the crazy lengths the company goes to just to keep prototype iPhones under wraps.

Notorious Apple leaker Sonny Dickson has put out some new images of an ugly iPhone case allegedly used by Apple to keep the iPhone 6s secret. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but there are a bunch of tiny details that help Apple keep features from leaking.

Apple pushes suppliers to take a price cut to secure orders

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Foxconn employees accused of $43 million iPhone scam
He's a shrewd operator is Tim Cook!
Photo: Apple

Unsurprisingly for a company with the kind of success Apple has experienced, it is quite adept at driving a hard bargain.

According to a new report, Apple has been trying to maintain its high gross margin at a time of slowing smartphone demand by asking its suppliers to work for less money. Major suppliers Largan Precision, Foxconn and Pegatron Technology have all been affected.

Apple broadens its supply chain to maximize profit margins

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Foxconn
Tim Cook meets with members of Apple's manufacturing team. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Apple is reportedly keeping its options open when it comes to selecting manufacturing partners for the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch by broadening the number of companies it contracts work out to.

In other words, those supply-and-demand issues that have hit Apple in recent years shortly after new product releases could soon be a thing of the past.

Overtime got worse for Apple’s supply chain workers in 2014

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Foxconn
Things have gotten slightly worse for Apple's supply chain workers. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Apple has been getting tougher and tougher on its supply chain. Just yesterday, for example, Apple banned suppliers who used ‘bonded servitude’ as a way to keep workers on assembly lines. Overall, under Tim Cook’s conscientious leadership, conditions just continue to improve for the employees who make our iPhones and iPads.

But there is one way in which conditions have gotten worse for Apple’s supply chain employees. Although Apple limits factory workers to a 60-hour-work week, more supply chain workers went over that amount in 2014 than in 2013. But don’t start pulling your knives out just yet.

BBC shines spotlight back on Apple’s poor working conditions in Asia

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Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

In a documentary set to air tonight called Apple’s Broken Promises, BBC One went undercover at Pegatron, one of Apple’s main supply chain partners in China. The findings from inside Pegatron’s walls show that “Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken,” according to the report.

Another alarming revelation was that Apple could be using tin dug by impoverished children in illegal Indonesian mines. Apple is denying the allegations, but BBC One is committed to unearthing a sensitive topic the iPhone maker has spent years trying to put to rest.

Excessive overtime and poor safety accusations aimed at Apple supplier

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Supplier Responsibility Progress Report
A worker in Apple's Chinese supply chain.

Another Apple supplier is facing accusations concerning violations of labor rights and lapses in workplace safety.

The supplier in question is Taiwanese company Catcher Technology, which produces the metal casings for iPads as well as parts for the iPhone, plus components for other tech companies. The allegations concern a factory in the Chinese city of Suqian.

Among the accusations raised in a Thursday report by environmental nonprofit Green America and workers’ rights group China Labor Watch are the fact that employees are made to work excessive overtime hours, and handle toxic chemicals without the proper protective clothing.

Apple’s Supply Chain Is Promising A Retina MacBook Air For 2014

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Grab a great deal on a refurbished MacBook Pro Ivy i5 Dual 13
Grab a great deal on a refurbished MacBook Pro Ivy i5 Dual 13" Laptop.
Photo: Cult of Mac

It’s been almost two years since Apple announced the Retina MacBook Pro, and it’s still the only Mac with a Retina display. But according to sources in Apple’s supply chain, that’ll change this summer when the Cupertino company finally unveils the Retina MacBook Air.

Apple Outspends Competitors For Exclusive Deals On Unique Supply Chain Machinery

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Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 3.57.22 PM

By now you should know that it takes an incredibly complex, efficient system to build Apple products overseas, assemble them, and ship them thousands of miles to then show up at your doorstep in the arms of a friendly mailman. Apple’s attention to detail extends outside of its Cupertino HQ to every area its business touches, including the machinery that makes the products overseas.

For 2014, Apple has committed to spending a record $10.5 billion on new manufacturing technology, according to a new report. Apple outspends all of its competitors to get exclusive deals on unique machinery that is needed for its product designs. 

WSJ: Apple Partners With New Suppliers For iPhone 5c & iPad Mini

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iPhone 5c
Apple is expected to introduce another 4-inch iPhone, but it probably won't be cheap.
Photo: Apple

Apple is reportedly teaming up with new suppliers to boost production of the iPhone 5c and the iPad mini to meet strong consumer demand, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Wistron Corp., a manufacturer based in Taiwan that already produces smartphones for BlackBerry and Nokia, will be tasked with assembling the iPhone 5c; while Compal Communications, which currently works with Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and others, will manufacturer the iPad mini.