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Untouched by human hands: iPhone 6 made completely by robots

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/15/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Robotics give hotly sought-after gadgets efficiency

Robots are performing more and more human-like functions in the worlds of industry, and it comes as little surprise that Apple is increasingly using automations in the constructions of iPhones. Human hands attached to real living humans in the past previously put the finishing touches on the popular devices. That will soon be consigned to the halls of time -

The machines that were introduced in 2011, known as 'Foxbots' were part of a larger effort to help offset increasing labor costs.

The machines that were introduced in 2011, known as "Foxbots" were part of a larger effort to help offset increasing labor costs.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
7/15/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Foxbots, iPhone 6, robots, China


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Foxconn parent company Hon Hai is set to deploy an army of 10,000 assembly-line robots in order to meet the demands of producing the highly anticipated iPhone 6.

Hon Hai CEO Terry Gou revealed in a recent shareholder meeting that Apple would be the very first customer of Foxconn's latest robots.

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"Robots are going to enhance and speed up the manufacturing process," Tim Bajarin, CEO of market research firm Creative Strategies says. "The really big issue here is that the demand for the iPhone continues to grow. It's grown every quarter since it came out."

It's all part of a logical procedure. "When you are dealing with creating millions of smart phones per month, efficiency is critical," Bajarin said in an interview. "Robotics gives you that level of efficiency, which in the end, is very important for the bottom line."

This doesn't necessarily mean a downturn in human labor. Foxconn currently employs more than 1.2 million workers. They have reportedly hired an additional 100,000 workers in China to work alongside the robots.

"I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the next five years, robots will even take care of the final touches," Bajarin says.

"Within a couple of decades," Marshall Brain, founder of "How Stuff Works" and author of "Robotic Nation," says "there won't be a single job that robots can't do better than humans."

Phasing out human labor altogether is easier said than done. Foxconn's original commitment to implement one million robots by 2014 has been met with setbacks.

The company had reportedly rolled out 10,000 robots in 2011 to work in their Jincheng, Shanxi Province factory. Several production line workers complained that the machines were incapable of doing the most basic human tasks.

The machines, known as "Foxbots" were part of a larger effort to help offset increasing labor costs. Hon Hai's 2013 financial report stated, in part, "To remain cost competitive, we have been continuously controlling manufacturing overhead to attain better operating leverage and improving efficiency and yield rate through automation using robot arms and industrial engineering methods like production cell management."

The shift to automation will undoubtedly lead to substantial productivity gains for companies, but as that happens, jobs will be increasingly at risk.

"We have been dealing with robots on manufacturing lines for almost 50 years, Bajarin says. "The fact that they are getting faster, smarter, and able to do more intricate tasks is a concern in the sense - as it was 50 years ago - that it impacts job creation."

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