Foxconn is a company that you might have heard of. It doesn't market many products under its own brand, but the gadgets that are assembled in its production plants are likely present in your very own home. Some of these include the iPhone, iPad, Amazon Kindle, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, among many others.
What has caused the Foxconn name to end up on quite a few headlines, however, are the dodgy working conditions in its factories. In fact, the stress that workers are exposed to is so harsh that nets are installed under the windows of the manufacturer's dormitories in order to avoid suicides. Furthermore, Foxconn admitted last month that it had hired underage workers, aged between 14 and 16. It is estimated that the company employs about 1.2 million people worldwide.
Foxconn has started installing robots in one of its Chinese factories – 10,000 of them, to be more specific, with 20,000 more planned to be added before the year is out. The goal is for the manufacturer to have a total of 1 million robots up and running in its production plants. The "Foxbots", as they are being referred to are made by Foxconn and are estimated to cost anything between $20,000 and $25,000. However, the new machines can only perform some basic tasks like lifting and placing items. In other words, they lack the precision needed to assemble iPhones, for example, which are already extremely difficult to put together.
At this time, it is too early to predict how many workers the new robots will replace. The machines will initially be used to facilitate the manufacturing process instead of handling it entirely, but eventually, they should be able to fully substitute a fraction of Foxconn employees.