The robot takeover continues. Industrial automation and the Industrial Internet of Things are the keywords that you should be following in the year 2016 because there will be news about them every day. Recently, Adidas opened a fully automated branch in Germany and is now making pairs of shoes in a fully automated process. Seemingly, Foxconn, the company behind supplying Apple and Samsung to the world, is doing the same thing.
According to the South China Morning Post, the $4 billion that was pumped into Foxconn has been used on buying automated industrial gear.
“The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs. More companies are likely to follow suit,” said the Department of Publicity head Xu Yulian.
The reason they replaced their workforce? Foxconn did not mince their words. In a statement, the group said: “We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to focus on higher value-added elements in the manufacturing process, such as research and development, process control and quality control. We will continue to harness automation and manpower in manufacturing operations and we expect to maintain our significant workforce in China.” 60,000 employees are a lot of employees to lose at once.
The news out of Foxconn resonates with what the former CEO of McDonalds Ed Rensi said, albeit more harshly, this week: “I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry — it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries — it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across [the United States] like you’re not going to believe.”
It shouldn’t be long before we see the next company slicing its employee strength in half and replacing them with automated industrial robots. There are fresh revelations in the robot industry every single week.