Sorry, Mr. Trump! There soon might not be any Apple product assembly jobs to bring back to the United States. Apple’s main iPhone assembly partner, Foxconn has announced that it already has 40,000 robots in place on its production lines, and is working toward full automation of all of its factories.
Foxconn Electronics is automating production at its factories in China in three phases, aiming to fully automate entire factories eventually, according to general manager Dai Jia-peng for Foxconn’s Automation Technology Development Committee.
The first phase will consist of seting up individual automated work stations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous, Dai said. The second phase will consist of the automation of entire production lines, to decrease the number of robots needed during the phase.
Finally, Dai says the third phase will see entire factories being automated, with only a small amount of workers being assigned for the production, logistics, testing and inspection processes.
Foxconn’s factories in Chengdu, western China, Shenzhen, southern China, and Zhengzhou, northern China, have been brought to the second or third phase, Dai said. There are 10 lights-out (fully automated) production lines at some factories, including table one in Chengdu, AIO (all-in-one) PC and LCD monitor lines at a factory in Chongqing, western China, and a CNC line in Zhengzhou, Dai indicated.
Foxconn has so far deployed over 40,000 industrial robots, known as Foxbots. The robots are developed and produced in-house at factories in China. Foxconn can crank out around 10,000 Foxbots per year, so it won’t take long to “staff” the automated factories.
President-elect Donald Trump promised during his campaign to force Apple and other companies to bring production of their products back to the U.S. Apple CEO Tim Cook and other tech executives have described the promise as impractical, given what Cook says is a lack of vocational skills and logistical support stateside.
Apple is reported to have asked production partners Foxconn and Pegatron to investigate the feasibility of bringing some Apple product production to the U.S., Foxconn agreed to investigate the possibilities of such a move, while Pegatron is said to have dismissed the possibility out of hand.
The latest news from Foxconn indicates there soon may not be any jobs to bring back to the U.S., instead, they may be shipping robots stateside in order to build Apple products in the states.