Alan Smithee

Foxconn Goes Automated

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It’s a bit of a hobby of mine to keep track of what’s going on with China’s vast manufacturing wing that has gobbled up megatons of worldwide outsourcing. I was more of a morbid curiosity a year or so ago when the workers at the plant were throwing themselves out of windows because how bleak the conditions were, but now I follow what’s going on because so many of our favorite consumer electronics are put together at plants like Foxconn.

Well, it does my heart good to see that they’re going require less and less employees as the factory is set to automate many of the jobs that are currently being done by workers. I say this not to be a dick, or for any reason than efficiency, but with workers you have to pay them, you have to feed them, provide a place to sleep and most importantly, care for their well being…robots, not so much.

You can make robots work in the most deplorable conditions that you wouldn’t ever want to subject a human to, which unfortunately is exactly what Foxconn has been accused of. If I recall there was the matter of employees being burnt/blown up due to powdered metal explosions and I already mentioned the roof parties.

It’s going to cost them an arm and a leg, especially if the robots are being made by a more advanced workforce in the USA or Japan, but it also means that China is stepping its game up as one of the BIG BOYS and making it so their workforce is much more skilled than they used to require. Sure, it means that less skilled workers might have to return to their provincial lives and make less money, but it’s also going to mean that there’s less chance of human error when it comes to high dollar electronics.

Can someone say thinner, lighter tech? Human hands might not be able to, but a robot sure can. This news just makes me that much more excited for the future of manufacturing…until the robots start to revolt. Then I’ll be watching with a raging semi as the machine uprising begins.

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