iRobotLabor: iPad Manufacturer May Mechanize Their Work Force

The following is proof of either (1) Karl Čapek’s forward-thinking play R.U.R. coming to life, or (2) the kids from ATTACK OF THE SHOW being onto something with their recurring jokes about the pending robot apocalypse…

Foxconn Technology Group, whose job it is to actually assemble all those new iPhones and iPads that the House of Jobs keeps dangling in front of our eyes, is looking to further automate the manufacturing process with robot technology.  Foxconn already has 10,000 “worker bots” in their Far East plants, and hopes to increase that number to 300,000 within a year — and close to a million in three years.

The move is, by all accounts, primarily financial.  Already struggling with wafer-thin profit margins, Foxconn is seeing employee salaries increasing at an exponential rate.  There has also been an increase in fatal on-the-job accidents, and even workforce suicides.  Transferring simple assembly line procedures to robotic hands therefore will not only save on wages, but shift manpower from routine, repetitive tasks to roles such as R&D.

Without the savings offered by robotic assembly-line manufacturing, Foxconn might face the prospect of moving their plants out of China and Hong Kong — ironic, since the reduced cost of overseas labor is why those same plants were built in the first place…

[Via the International Herald Tribune]

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