Apple supplier Foxconn replaces 60,000 factory workers with robots

“Thirty-five Taiwanese companies, including Apple’s supplier Foxconn, spent a total of 4 billion yuan (HK$4.74 billion) on artificial intelligence last year, according to the Kunshan government’s publicity department,” The South China Morning Post reports.

“‘The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,’ said the department’s head Xu Yulian. ‘More companies are likely to follow suit,'” SCMP reports. “As many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans, according to a government survey.”

SCMP reports, “The job cuts do not augur well for Kunshan, which had a population of more than 2.5 million at the end of 2014, two-thirds of whom were migrant workers.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Welcome to the future – finally!

(Even though we’d prefer Fembots.)

Apple unveils Liam recycling robot that takes apart iPhones – March 21, 2016
Foxconn robots better, but still not precise enough to assemble Apple iPhones – December 5, 2014
Foxconn CEO disappointed with current-gen iPhone-assembling robots; next-gen ‘Foxbots’ in the works – September 22, 2014
Foxconn to deploy ‘Foxbot’ robots for iPhone assembly – July 7, 2014
Why Foxconn’s iPhone robots could create American jobs – February 2, 2014
Apple dives deeper into designing and inventing robots, other manufacturing tech – November 22, 2013
Whatever happened to Foxconn’s one million iPhone-assembling robots? – May 15, 2013
Robots made Apple switch to ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ Macs – December 11, 2012
Foxconn’s 2012 plan: More robots, no layoffs, zero suicides, new factories – November 22, 2011
Foxconn to replace some workers with 1 million robots within 3 years – July 31, 2011


  1. Thus it begins. As businesses make cray-cray amounts of cash with minuscule human oversight expect business taxes to rise to 50% – 80% and the income to be redistributed to the residents of the country. It’ll be like the check residents of Alaska get through oil revenue.

    This is how society goes from work-based to enjoyment-based.

    But don’t worry. If it doesn’t create a generation of free-loaders it’ll create a generation of hard workers who simply have the freedom to pursue what they enjoy, whatever the income it may or may not generate.

    It could be the start of a great and glorious golden age of human civilization. Or not. We shall see.

    In any case, the transition is upon us.

  2. Whew, never thought the robots would take over THAT fast.

    Why can’t Tim Cook, then, make the next big thing in the United States?

    The iPhone 9 or product-to-be-named-later might be produced with 200 real people and 40,000 robots, but the money will have been spent here.

    Or maybe Apple calls itself American, but is as American as VW or Sony or Shell Oil.

    1. Because the costs of production in China vs the US is not strictly based on labor costs. A not insignificant part of that is the supply chain that is established there being more centralized. Where as in the US due to how we have legislators fighting for bills that have things favorable to different components of the supply chain to come to their states the supply chain is more spread out and it costs more to move the goods around for the next step.

  3. So, if 55% of the people can be replaced with automation and some of the labor intensive subassemblies inported from overseas, maybe the final assembly can be done in the final country avoiding the crushing tariffs reducing the iPhone sale price.

    1. It’s always worth looking at other industries. Only yesterday Adidas revealed that they were opening a robotic factory in Germany to manufacture shoes that were previously built in the Far East using cheap labour. They are planning to create similar factories elsewhere in Europe. Adidas believe that robotic manufacture allows them to match the previous prices, but with the advantage of being produced locally. It also boosts the domestic market, not just from those employed at the robotic factory, but companies that supply them with services, maintenance and consumables such as cardboard boxes. Nike have hinted that they are planning on doing something very similar.

      I think that it’s inevitable that Apple and Foxconn will keep making progress in this direction and there will soon come a point where a mostly automatic assembly process will be practical. When that happens, it’s relatively straightforward to make copies of that factory elsewhere so that manufacture happens close to where the product is sold.

      It improves continuity of supply and also allows Apple to manufacture locally in countries which are concerned about having too many imported goods ( India, Brazil etc).

      One less obvious advantage is that it has the potential to speed up Apple’s ability to introduce new models. At the moment, it takes time to train people to deal with new models and then there is a gradual speeding up of assembly as they become used to it. With automatic assembly, the fine tuning can be done is a development factory and when it’s working optimally, the process can be rolled out to the other factories very rapidly.

  4. Obviously many of the respondent have never worked in manufacturing. This isn’t like replacing an open flame with a gas grill. Think of the capital investment required. Also the engineering and skilled trades acumen; do we have enough of those in the US? These things are most likely not designed and built by lawyers!

  5. …spent a total of 4 billion yuan (HK$4.74 billion) on artificial intelligence last year

    No, it’s not actual artificial ‘intelligence’. No such thing as of yet. But it’s advanced software automation, good enough to boot people out of their jobs.

    Here starts the debate:
    Are robotic replacements of humans a GOOD thing?
    Or a BAD thing?
    And from what perspective?

    The sci-fantasy POV has consistently been that automation of factory labor would…
    ‘Free mankind to enjoy more leisure time!’
    Was this wishful thinking?
    Or was this propaganda bullshit that benefited no one but business owners?

    This debate and consequential nonsense slinging from both sides is going to go on for many years. So stock up on antiemetics now!

    The Premise:
    The purpose of robots is to benefit mankind.


    1. Neural research, even in its rudimentary stages, is laying bare the elements of human intelligence—and emotion appears essential. Robots and compiled programs don’t have that…

    2. Every one of God’s creatures needs to make a living in this world, in order to survive and reproduce; that’s its only job. Nature provides ample rewards for doing so, by making those activities pleasurable; refraining from them actually has unpleasant effects, like sickening and dying.

      Humans went further, forming tribes so we could help one another through the rough patches. But there were harsh seasons when everyone was helpless in the cave, waiting for a thaw and its expected rich bounty, meanwhile subsisting on dried scraps.

      It was times like those that stories were crafted, recollections to bolster hope, memorable mammoth hunts that recalled high emotion and triumph. In the “leisure time” forced by nature onto shivering mammals babbling to keep up their spirits, art was born.

  6. We’re gonna make Apple bring these JOBS to America…….
    We’re gonna bring these ummmm…. ROBOTS to America.
    Not ONE NEW person will be hired. But I’ll bring the automation to America.
    If I was really smart I would make a BETTER cell phone than Samsung, or Apple. Then hire people. I CAN’T. But I got something BETTER. A big loud mouth. Look at the FOOLS, er I mean, people who vote for THAT.

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