Foxconn is deploying a plan broken down into three phases that will eventually "automate entire factories" in China (via DigiTimes). According to the general manager of Foxconn's Automation Technology Development Committee, Dai Jia-peng, the company's first phase of the plan is "to set up individual automated work stations for work that workers are unwilling to do or is dangerous."
The second phase will see entire production lines automated along with a decrease of the number of robots used by the manufacturer. This will lead into the third phase, which is aimed to be fully automated factories "with only a minimal number" of human workers.
In the third phase, entire factories will be automated with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing and inspection processes, Dai indicated.
Currently, factories in Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Zhengzhou have been brought to the second and even third phase, with as many as 10 "lights-out," or fully automated, production lines at some of the locations. One of these facilities is located in Chengdu, where all-in-one PCs are being manufactured on automated assembly lines.
Foxconn's lines are deployed with "Foxbots," which it develops and produces in house at a rate of around 10,000 each year. Besides technology manufacturing, the company is also said to be creating robots for use in medical care as well. Human workers are still integral to the process, according to Dai, "because humans have the flexibility to quickly switch from one task to another."
Yesterday, an article by The New York Times looked more deeply behind the scenes of Foxconn and its major iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China. The "iPhone City" has become one of Apple's major global manufacturing plants over the past decade, and is one of the spots where Foxconn is now looking to deploy its three-phase automation plan.
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