Some companies are more than happy to announce their product roadmaps months, if not years, in advance. Apple is not one of those companies. On the contrary, Apple takes elaborate and arguably excessive measures to ensure that its upcoming products remain completely hidden from the public up until the moment Tim Cook trots out on stage and officially introduces it.
Apple’s penchant for and obsession with product secrecy is well-known at this point; which is why the company’s recent decision to grant Bloomberg access to a top-secret factory where iPhones are assembled caught many off-guard.
Not too long ago, Apple let Bloomberg have a look at an iPhone manufacturing plant owned by Pegatron. Located in China, Pegatron factories have made the news in recent years following reports that employees there were forced to endure less than stellar working conditions, often in the form of excessive working hours. As a result, Apple over the past few years has enacted new rules and regulations that all of its manufacturing partners must adhere to.
The entire piece is well worth a read as it provides a fascinating and unprecedented look at the process by which iPhones are assembled. It also highlights how Apple has taken a number of pro-active measures to improve overall working conditions at the manufacturing plants of its partners. For instance, Pegatron plant managers utilize “strict ID checks” to ensure that no employee works excessive overtime hours. Specifically, workers are not allowed to work more than 60 hours in a given week and, at the very minimum, are required to take at least one day off of work a week.
The report reads in part:
After passing through metal detectors to sniff out camera-equipped devices that could be used to leak pictures of unreleased new products, the workers follow arrows on the floor and inspirational posters on the wall. They climb up a stairwell with safety netting draped across the middle, to prevent accidents—or suicide attempts. At a bank of lockers, they don blue hairnets and swap their shoes for clean plastic slip-on slippers. At 9:20 a.m., the 320-worker production unit lines up with military precision in four rows for their roll call.
One improvement Pegatron executives were eager to share was increased income transparency. Employees can now check their hours, pay stubs, and monthly lodging and food expenses at touchscreen terminals throughout the campus. Including overtime, take-home pay averages 4,200 yuan to 5,500 yuan ($650-$850) a month. One employee, who helped workers access the automated information stations, showed her base salary was 2,020 yuan. An iPhone 6 in China costs 4,488 yuan.
For a company as secretive as Apple, it’s always fascinating to see how the sausage is made – so to speak – when given the chance. That said, Bloomberg’s full piece on their time at Pegatron’s super secret factory is well worth checking out.