Foxconn announced in August last year that it was planning to have 1 million robots up and running in its factories within three years. As promised, the first batch of 10,000 “Foxbots” have already made an appearance in one Chinese factory, with 20,000 more planned by the end of the year. The Foxconn-built Foxbots are estimated to cost between $20,000 and $25,000, but reportedly aren’t good for anything beyond repetitive tasks that involve item “lifting, selecting and placement.” The mechanical arm-like Foxbots are likely not capable of producing products such as the iPhone 5 that require extremely intricate assembly. With 1.2 million employees, and 1 million robots planned, the big question is how many workers will actually be put out of work? After all, Foxconn will still need people to oil up the Foxbots if they ever malfunction.
Sony’s (SNE) $25,000 84-inch Ultra HDTV with 4K resolution might soon look puny compared to flatscreens that have even larger displays, according to a DigiTimes report. The report claims Foxconn could build 70-inch, 80-inch and even 130-inch panels with Ultra HD resolution in them. As a major investor in Chimei Innolux (CMI), Taiwan’s largest LCD maker, Foxconn’s goal is to build panels in sizes that don’t interfere with CMI’s max 65-inch Ultra HDTVs in 2013. Although Foxconn CEO Terry Gou backpedaled on a statement his company was building Apple’s (AAPL) iTV, it wouldn’t shock us if the Cupertino-based company is involved, given all the rumors around it working on a Siri-powered TV.
While it’s unlikely that iPhones will have “Made in the U.S.A.” proudly stamped on them anytime soon, that doesn’t mean American tech manufacturing is dead. Unnamed sources have told Digitimes that iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has “plans to establish manufacturing plants in the US and is currently conducting evaluations in cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles.” Although these plants aren’t likely to churn out iPhones, they may assemble LCD TVs and other electronics that can be produced more through automated machines and require less human labor. Digitimes also says that Foxconn may be planning more training courses for American engineers that would give them the opportunity “to learn the Chinese language” as well as “first-hand expereince [sic] in the manufacturing process, and a training that can be helpful after they return to the US.”
Still can’t get an iPhone 5? It might be Apple’s (AAPL) fault and not just a display production shortage. According to The Wall Street Journal, a Foxconn official who wished to remain anonymous said the “iPhone 5 is the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled” and even now, workers are still learning how to manufacture the smartphones to meet Apple’s high standards. More →
After conducting an internal investigation, Foxconn (2038) issued a statement saying it discovered some of its interns at its Yantai facility in the Shandong Province were as young as 14-years-old, two years under China’s legal employment age. The company responsible for mass-producing some of the world’s most popular gadgets including the iPhone 5 told CNET in an emailed statement: “This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions.”
4,000 Foxconn workers on strike over iPhone 5 quality control measures, inadequate training [updated]
China Labor Watch is reporting that another Foxconn strike broke out on Friday at the Zhengzhou factory in China. The report says 3,000 to 4,000 Foxconn (2038) are complaining about Apple’s (AAPL) demanding quality standards for the iPhone 5. China Labor Watch further reports that workers are under immense pressure to deliver iPhone 5’s without receiving adequate training on how to improve yield rates.
Approximately 40 people were injured and 20 were arrested when a massive riot broke out Sunday at Foxconn’s (2038) Taiyuan plant in Northern China. Details are still conflicting, however early reports from Engadget suggest the incident began after a security guard struck a worker during anti-Japan protests at around 10:00 p.m. local time on Sunday. The plant, which manufactures magnesium alloy components and LED lighting products, has been closed following the incident. Reports suggest as many as 2,000 workers were involved. Foxconn issued a preliminary statement suggesting the incident was triggered by “a fight among workers from different production lines,” but the company noted it is “still investigating the cause of the fight and the number of people involved.” A video of the riot follows below. More →
Foxconn (2038) has denied recent reports that claim the company is forcing Chinese university students to assemble iPhones at one of its plants. The manufacturing giant revealed in a statement to Bloomberg that a recent audit by the Fair Labor Association found no evidence that any interns were pressured to participate at Foxconn’s factories in China. The company said that in the past it has partnered with “a number of” vocational schools in China for various internship programs ranging in length from one to six months. More →
The Fair Labor Association has given Apple (AAPL) and Foxconn a tentative thumbs up for their efforts to improve working and safety conditions for their manufacturing workforce, Reuters reports. However, the association also said that Apple and Foxconn still need to submit to audits to ensure that workers aren’t made to work past the legal limit of weekly hours. To meet this goal, Apple agreed to both limit workers’ overtime hours and to hire new workers to meet production demands. More →
Foxconn (2317) is reportedly interested in doubling its planned stake in Sharp (SHCAY) from 9.9% to nearly 20%, according to a report from Japan’s economic journal The Nikkei. In March, Foxconn agreed to invest more than $800 million in the troubled Japanese company, a move that would see it become Sharp’s largest outside shareholder. The deal was to be finalized by March 2013, with Foxconn agreeing to pay 550 yen per share. The Taiwanese manufacturing giant is now asking Sharp to decrease the previously agreed upon price to 200 yen per share however, because its stock price has declined in recent months. While the Japanese company continues to struggle financially, allowing Foxconn to increase its stake in the company may not be its best bet. If Foxconn is able to increase its stake beyond 10%, it will reportedly have the ability to ask a court to dissolve Sharp, which would allow Foxconn to increase its voice in controlling the fate of one of Japan’s oldest companies. More →
Foxconn (2354) is planning to invest between $5 and $10 billion over the next 5 to 10 years in a production plant in Indonesia, Reuters reported. The plant will initially be responsible for the assembly and production of an estimated three million handsets per year, according to Indonesia’s Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan. The first investment will begin in October of this year and in July 2013, the project will move to phase two, where Foxconn will begin to build a plant of its own and increase production to 10 million units per year. The Taiwanese company previously revealed that it was interested in Indonesia for its high rate of economic growth compared to Malaysia and Vietnam. Foxconn, known best for assembling Apple’s (AAPL) smartphones, tablets and computers, already operates several manufacturing plants in China and Brazil, where the company recently came under fire for its alleged harsh treatment of employees. More →
Manufacturing heavyweight Foxconn (2354) is reportedly interested in acquiring board seats at Sharp Electronics (6753), DigiTimes reported on Friday. The company received three non-executive board seats at Sharp Display earlier this month after it acquired a 46.48% stake in the company, equivalent to 1.32 million shares. In response to reports that it was seeking a board seat at Sharp Display’s parent company, Foxconn reportedly said that “the company’s focus in cooperating with Sharp is to help complement each’s weakness to allow each side to achieve maximum benefits.” The company did say “a board seat is not really the main focus of Foxconn,” however, adding that it’s “hoping to have more substantial influence to help Sharp improve its management and sales and raise the panel maker’s profitability.” Sharp Display currently supplies display panels used in Apple’s latest iPad, and it is rumored to be building TV panels for Apple’s rumored HDTV, which is expected to launch early next year. More →
Apple (AAPL) manufacturing partner Foxconn (2354) is planning a billion-dollar factory located in Indonesia, Games Industry International reported on Wednesday. The company said it was drawn to the country over Malaysia and Vietnam due to its high rate of economic growth. Foxconn also noted that the region is “sorely in need” of formal jobs, highlighting that its plant would create more than one million jobs with an average pay of $100 a month. “We are looking forward to establish a new manufacturing plant in Indonesia, although nothing is finalised yet,” a Foxconn representative said in a statement. “This will help us in manufacturing good quality products and make them available in the markets at lower prices. With this, Indonesians will also get better employment opportunities. We will continue our efforts in establishing more manufacturing plants across the globe.” Foxconn already operates several manufacturing plants in China and Brazil, and has come under fire for its alleged harsh treatment of employees. More →