'Foxbots,' to Target Employee Suicide Risks In Apple Manufacturing Company

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By Tanya Diente | July 11, 2014 2:17 PM EST

The addition of more robots in Foxconn's assembly team, may be the company's attempt at minimising employee suicide risks and better working conditions for the makers of Apple's iPhone and iPad.

REUTERS
A member of the audience uses an iPhone to record DJ Afrojack's performance on ABC network's Good Morning America program in New York, June 27, 2014.

According to Inquisitr, Foxconn's move towards robots for its manufacturing assembly could help the company's overall image.

Apple's manufacturing parent company has a bad history of employee suicides since 2010. According to The Telegraph, 14 workers committed mass suicide when they threw themselves down from the top of the company's building. In May of the previous year, three other employees who worked at a plant in the central city of Zhengzhou also committed suicide. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a 30-year-old man killed himself following the deaths of a 23-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man.

The aftermath of the suicides prompted the company to install safety nets in some of its factories. Foxconn also hired counsellors to help its employees.

Aside from the suicides, a total of 24,000 employees from Foxconn's plant in Longhua resigns every month, according to The Telegraph. Foxconn's resignations are alledly brought on by complaints of slave labour conditions and military-style management. In addition to low salaries, employees also complained they are being worked to "tears."

Following the number of suicides and resignations, Foxconn recently went on a hiring spree. According to 9to5mac citing Taiwanese Economic Daily, the company reportedly hired as many as 100,000 new workers to assist its iPhone 6 production.

The company turning to robots for its manufacturing assembly may also be favourable to the employees in terms of working conditions. Foxconn will reportedly deploy 10,000 robots that are capable of assembling an average of 300,000 smartphones. This speed could lessen workload for the employees. But for now, it is unclear how the Foxbots would affect the manufacturing of Apple products.

Foxconn's decision to employ the robots was announced during an annual shareholders' meeting. Hon Hai Group and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou said Apple would be the first to benefit from a new line of robots once they are confirmed functional.

The robots are on its final testing process, according to ithome.com. Once fully operational, they will be added to Foxconn's assembly team, who is responsible for the manufacturing of Apple's iPhone, iPad Air and other products.

Foxconn's robots, called "Foxbots," would cost the company $20,000 to $25,000 for each robot. Gou said these robots will not be available for sale to other companies as Foxconn will likely not have enough to meet its own needs.

(Credit: YouTube/NTDTV)

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(Photo: REUTERS / Lucas Jackson)
A member of the audience uses an iPhone to record DJ Afrojack's performance on ABC network's Good Morning America program in New York, June 27, 2014.
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