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iRobot: Foxconn Installing ‘Foxbots’ To Replace Workers

iRobot: Foxconn Installing ‘Foxbots’ To Replace Workers

The robots are taking over. At least at Foxconn. The manufacturer of most of Apple’s products is bringing in robots to replace workers and save on labor costs, TechWeb reports (via CNET).

10,000 have already arrived at one factory, with 20,000 more expected before the end of the year. At $25,000 apiece, they aren’t cheap, but that’s three times the average worker’s yearly salary. So it only needs to last for three years and it’s paid for itself.

Suicides had plagued the facility prior to this announcement, so I dread to think what impact the robots will have.

Prior to the announcement of the the robot initiative last year, at least 16 workers reportedly committed suicide since the beginning of 2010 at Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen, China, a plant that employs hundreds of thousands of workers. Another three have attempted to suicide at the job site.

Most of the suicides have involved jumping from buildings. In response to the situation, the company promised to install “suicide nets” to discourage employees from jumping, as well as raise salaries by 25 percent.

Worker strikes and clashes are also fairly commonplace, and Foxconn has also been criticized for the poor working conditions.

You could remove all emotion argue that the employees are the problem, so bringing in robots is a good idea. Furthermore, human error is taken out of the equation. However you feel for anyone who works at Foxconn right now.

  1. MRonin says:

    There is a simple answer to any pangs of guilt or concern for workers who make the products we buy. The answer is this: Don’t buy them. I’m sorry folks are losing their jobs or feeling the need to off themselves or are underpaid, etc. However the collective consumer culture (of which I am most certainly a part) is to blame if these things weigh on ones conscious.

    Demonize Apple, Dell, Samsung, Foxconn, Sony, etc etc all you want. The lions share of the “blame” comes squarely back on all of us. There is nothing written in any of our DNA that says we MUST buy a new phone, computer, tv, etc every year. There is nothing hard coded in the laws of nature that dictates workers must be woefully underpaid to make the stuff we buy. It’s the nature of fallible short sited greedy business people to churn as much money as possible out of these endeavors regardless of the cost to anything or anyone else. We the consumer facilitate those actions by clamoring the next best, greatest, fastest, thinest, lightest, bleeding edge, what-ever.

    Again I’m just as complicit as anyone but the difference is I know I am and make attempts to add as little as I can to that situation. That includes not whinging endlessly about how evil the companies I am in “bed” with are because I realize I am just as guilty as they are.

  2. stevenjklein says:

    “At $25,000 apiece, they aren’t cheap, but that’s three times the average worker’s yearly salary. So it only needs to last for three years and it’s paid for itself”

    Assuming the workers work 8-hour shifts, and also assuming that the robot can work 24 hours/day, then each robot replaces 3 workers, not one. Making the payback period 1 year, not 3.

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