Foxconn, makers of the iPhone as well as products for Sony, Nokia, Dell and Hewlett Packard, plans to automate much of its manufacturing load. Last year they doubled wages after more than a dozen workers at its plant in southern China committed suicide. It was so bad, the factory had to install suicide nets from the rafters. Now, after more reported suicides, the company has decided to increase its automated workforce from 10,000 robots to a million in 3 years. Hey, it’s easier than raising wages again!
The Guardian reports that Foxconn’s chairman(lower-case “c”), Terry Gou, “wants to cut rising labour costs and improve efficiency by using the machines for simple and routine tasks such as spraying, welding and assembling.” Some see this as a signal that China’s massive, inexpensive labor force is becoming unsustainable.
The automation should drive operating and manufacturing costs down for a bit, but soon Chinese companies will find it more effective to outright ship jobs overseas to large, developing nations with eager workforces.
How does America sound?
Taiwan iPhone manufacturer replaces Chinese workers with robots [Guardian]