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Foxconn replaces 60,000 humans with robots

Staff writer |
Foxconn Technology has replaced 60,000 human workers with robots in a single factory, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

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This is part of a massive reduction in headcount across the entire Kunshan region in China’s Jiangsu province, in which many Taiwanese manufacturers base their Chinese operations.

Roughly 600 companies are reportedly looking to reduce headcount with robots, as part of an effort to accelerate growth and reduce costs, according to the Chinese newspaper, which cited data from the Kunshan government.

Last year, 35 Taiwanese companies, including Foxconn, spent a total of 4 billion yuan ($610 million) on artificial intelligence as part of this initiative, according to the report.

While developing AI does present higher upfront costs, machines are seen as more predictable and stable over the long term versus humans, potentially leading to personnel cost savings over the long term.

With such high pressures placed on these manufacturers, which assemble much of the world’s consumer technology products and are often under strict deadlines, it also alleviates some of the ethical issues that arise when working people too hard for too long to meet demand.

Foxconn has been criticized for years for inadequate working conditions, which led to a string of suicides at its manufacturing facilities a few years ago.

Foxconn employees have complained of being overworked, sleeping in less-than-ideal dormitory conditions, and not being paid fairly.

The company has worked to improve conditions recently, but it did not immediately respond to MarketWatch for a comment about its investments in AI and plans to replace staff with robots.

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