updated 12:25 pm EDT, Sun July 31, 2011
Foxconn plans 1m robots in three years
Foxconn will act on promises and replace some of its assembly line workers with robots, founder Terry Gou said at a company party Friday night. The company will move from 10,000 robots this year to 300,000 in 2012 and one million within three years. Many of these will be used to handle simple, repetitive tasks that are still being handled by human workers, such as certain kinds of assembly, spraying, and welding, the Xinhua News Agency understood.
The step will likely lead to job cuts at Foxconn but will likely both save the company money and, more vitally, reduce the mounting problems with labor conditions. Workers have seen increased base pay but are known to still regularly work overtime and get little discretionary income.
Although the crises have calmed down in more recent months, Foxconn is still dealing with suicides from those who crack under the stress. The company took to stopping pay to suicide victims' families to prevent migrants and others from seeing their deaths as a way of delivering several years' worth of pay to their often impoverished parents in rural areas.
Much of the attention placed on Foxconn has come from its own scale as the largest contract manufacturer in the world. Although other companies work in the area and sometimes have similar working conditions, its size has drawn business from not just Apple but Nokia, Sony, and numerous smaller clients.