A report from the 21st Century Business Herald says that Foxconn may be ramping up its process of replacing human workers with robots. The company reportedly had 10,000 robots last year and is hoping to have 300,000 robots working in its factories this year. All of this is leading to the company’s ultimate plan to have 1 million robots working by 2014.
The process of replacing human workers with robots is reportedly taking longer than expected though. The company hasn’t yet reached the 300,000 mark this year, and the report says that they’ve only been able to reach one-tenth of that amount so far. The robots that have been introduced to the assembly line are being used for simple processes in iPhone and iPad production. More complicated jobs still require the dexterity of human hands.
The switch to robot labor has come at a time when Foxconn has been forced to start paying its workers more. Due to FLA audits and riots, Foxconn has agreed to raise the wages of its human workers. With robot workers, Foxconn would not only save money on wages, as the company could save even more money on not having to pay for food, housing or other amenities.
It’s tough to say if Foxconn will be able to replace 1 million workers with robots in two years. It’s unlikely, but it could have a devastating effect on the economy if it comes to pass. Foxconn already employs a little over a million workers in mainland China. Many people are actually moving away from the country to the cities to work at these factories. Replacing them could increase the number of poor and homeless in China’s urban centers.
Besides, Foxconn is missing the major point here. What if the robots start a riot? Tear gas and nightsticks won’t work on them. They might even enlist their noodle slicing brethren to start stabbing everything in sight.
[h/t: The Next Web]