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Foxconn to Use 'Foxbots' to Assemble Devices from Apple, Others in China

The largest private employer in China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn, announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service.

Foxconn said its new “Foxbots” will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their “final testing phase.” The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering Reuters in 2011 said Foxconn was planning on building as many as 1 million robots by 2014 to help assemble devices and cope with the rising cost of labour.

The new robots may also help Foxconn repair its reputation, which has been mired in controversy for years after countless allegations of hiring discrimination, poor working and living conditions, abuse by management, insufficient wages, and environmental pollution, among other complaints. There were also a string of employee suicides in 2009 and a couple of sobering reports from The New York Times that eventually forced Tim Cook to amplify Apple’s supplier responsibility efforts to promote good will and transparency.

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