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Foxconn, the manufacturing company behind the likes of the iPhone and PlayStation 4, has replaced 60 000 of its workers with robots, according to a new report.
“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,” a government official told the South China Post.
That effectively means that a workforce equivalent to the population of Knysna has been replaced by machines.
In response to a BBC query, Foxconn stated that robots were implemented to complete the repetitive tasks, and that now its human workforce can focus on “higher value-added elements in the manufacturing process, such as research and development, process control and quality control.”
“We will continue to harness automation and manpower in our manufacturing operations, and we expect to maintain our significant workforce in China,” the Foxconn response stated.
Additionally, in Kunshan county alone (the county in which the Foxconn plant is based), 600 additional companies are also considering following suit.
While Foxconn suggests that workers can now focus on the finer details, the move does suggest two things: that robots are now more efficient than human counterparts, and a lot cheaper to implement.
It’s probably too early to declare that the robot revolution is upon us, but it’s worth suggesting that this could be the very beginning.
Feature image: Brad Montgomery via Flickr