Foxconn Robots Proving Unsuitable for iPhone Assembly, Updated Versions in the Works
Foxconn recently deployed robots to help assemble iPhones and other Apple devices, but so far the program may not be as successful as first anticipated. According to the Chinese economic website Jiemian (via G for Games), the first-generation Foxconn robots are not precise enough to meet Apple's standards.
In the first stage of deployment, the "Foxbots" have been tasked with menial jobs that include the assembly of larger components and tightening screws. Unfortunately, the bots are proving to have an accuracy to 0.05 mm, which is above the 0.02 mm tolerance required to assemble Apple's products.
Part of the issue involves the lineage of the robots, which were adapted from the car manufacturing industry. The larger, clunky robots are not designed with the flexibility necessary for the assembly of Apple's thin and complex devices. Foxconn reportedly is working on the second-generation Foxbot, but the technology still may need additional years of refinement before it can make a meaningful contribution to the assembly process.
Foxconn has been seeking ways to improve production to meet Apple's demand for iPhone and iPad units. The company routinely increases its hiring ahead of planned Apple product launches with the company reportedly hiring up to 100,000 new workers to help assemble the iPhone 6. The manufacturer also may be looking to enter the display market with a new display manufacturing plant in Taiwan.