It can take credit for having assembled over 200 million iOS devices for Apple, and countless others for just about every major device and hardware manufacturer, but Foxconn has also taken its share of criticism for various suicides and explosions at its plants, and it is increasingly facing significant wage inflation in China.
So, it has announced it is looking at a significant (multi-billion dollar)diversification into Brazil if it can get appropriate incentives from that government.
But now comes an even more significant announcement. “The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years” “The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers”
The pattern has been going on for centuries. Businesses will always look for cheaper labor, then automation. It sounds callous, and over the last couple of decades many US and European companies have been vilified for offshoring. In at least some cases, SaaS is showing them how to automate some of that labor.
It is remarkable how massive data centers are being run by less than 50 folks. It is interesting to see service robots (for nursing and other care) being deployed in Japan. How Google translate and voice transcription is displacing traditional labor for those tasks. How real estate companies are using QR codes on signage and 360 degree videos of for-sale homes to reduce broker activities. How sites like Trademarkia are cannibalizing attorney fees for IP searches.
I am just glad I don’t run PR for Foxconn. They will likely take even more hell for the Brazil and robot moves than they have for the suicides. Efficiency is a poor competitor to emotion.