Suicide-Plagued Foxconn to Swap People for Robots

In 3 years, it could use as many as 1M robots
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 1, 2011 10:25 AM CDT
In this May 26, 2010 file photo, staff members work on the production line at the Foxconn complex in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(Newser) – Foxconn, the suicide-plagued maker of millions of Apple products in China, plans to use as many as one million robots on its assembly line within three years—compared to just 10,000 today, a Chinese report says. Increasing labor costs is a major driver behind the move, reports Reuters. "This year's wage increase has been quite significant and I don't expect the pace to slow down next year," says an analyst. "If they don't do this, they will have to move their factories elsewhere."

Foxconn’s 1.2 million-strong workforce has seen a number of employee suicides over the past year, a trend seen across China; top firms have also grappled with recent strikes. Foxconn says the robots will work on simple assembly tasks, while the company—whose clients also include HP and Dell—aims “to move workers from more routine tasks to more value-added positions in manufacturing such as R&D, innovation, and other areas that are equally important to the success of our operations."

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