Foxbot: the Mix of Labour and Capital


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After going through the harsh criticisms,Foxconn is working on a big costly change that is to replace the human labors with robots. According to the reports, the first batch of had been installed in 2012 and transported to at least one Foxconn factory while another 20,000 robots are going to due in 2013. Each robot costs between $20,000 and $25,000 to produce, almost three times the average annual salary of a Foxconn’s factory workers, according to the Chinese Web site TechWeb. There were about twenty to thirty workers on each line before, but after the robots were added the number of workers went down to five people. I believe it was not an easy decision made by Foxconn. It chose an expensive but safe way to produce iProducts. Also, the mix of labor and capital is much more efficient than human labors because robots are faster and make less mistakes. Most of the workers in Foxconn are young people, which mean they can easily be trained to work with robots. The leading of robots would lower the suicide rate, less the burden of workloads, increase the manufacture efficiency and improve the quality of products. I think Foxconn is a company, which takes responses to its employees and contract partners.

However, the social problems are coming with Foxconn’s robots. Foxconn does not need as many workers as before, so the job opportunities are decreasing. As one of the biggest hirer in China, Foxconn provide living for nearly half a million people. Many people would lose their jobs, which could higher the criminal rate and risk the social safety. Also, working with robots may increase the salaries for employees because they are the skilled people who can manipulate robots and work with them.

The following two websites talk about the new robots in Foxconn.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2011/08/foxconn

http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/11/3753856/foxconn-shenzhen-factory-automation-manufacturing-US-expansion

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4 thoughts on “Foxbot: the Mix of Labour and Capital

  1. This post relates to my post a lot. I really like how you added the specific costs of the robots, and noted that the cost of each is about 3x the average workers salary. I do think that the introduction of robots to create iProducts will lead to safer conditions, but I am not sure that it will affect the suicide rate other than the fact that there will be less workers in the factories, and thus less workers overall that have the opportunity to commit suicide. I do not think that the suicide rate will be affected unless wages are increased substantially. After all, didn’t most of the workers commit suicide because their families would receive more money from their deaths than from them being alive and earning wages in the factories? I may be mistaken on this…

  2. Your post addresses some issues that I thought about for our first post about Foxconn. Many people do benefit from the job opportunities that these factories offer, despite their harsh working conditions. And if they did decide to continue buying robots, wouldn’t the price of buying the robots and maintaining them be incredibly expensive? I’m sure Foxconn is buying the robots in light of the recent negative press they have been receiving. At this point, it sounds like they will do anything to stop hiring human workers. Is it worth it?

  3. I like the contrast here of the idea it is good to improve business through robotics but bad to lay off workers to do so. It makes you really think of which you would rather prefer from an outside perspective. Obviously, the workers in these facilities aren’t people who can go out and find a job right away. They do manual labor. These robots coming in are definitely high tech machines who’s controls, checks, and maintenance is most likely about the skill set of the employees. If you were a factory manager and you had all the power to chose how to handle the situation, what would you do?

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