Automation, Good or Bad?

Many of you have probably heard about a company called Foxconn, they do the manufacturing for various products, such as the Iphone and Xbox. They have been running into a problem recently, and that is achieving profitability for the company. In 2010 there was a huge outbreak of suicides at their Chinese plant, because of horrible working and living conditions.This prompted the company to give employees a raise increase to $325 per month from $195.It also spurred Foxconn to speed up its pursuit of automation. The company’s president, Terry Guo, said in 2010 that it would produce 1 million Foxbots, a mechanical arm researched and developed by Foxconn to perform dull and dangerous jobs. The robots would be implemented from 2012 to 2015 to increase the rate of automation and productivity. Foxconn had hoped that by replacing humans with robots, production would become much cheaper and make the company profitable again. However, they soon learned that automation might not be the answer.

“The transformation from workers’ manual labor to using the robots means the models of production will be changed and the changes are complicated,” said Xu Fang, director of the Center Research Institute at high-tech company SIASUN Robot & Automation Co. Ltd. Since some jobs at Foxconn require workers to use their judgment and even though the tasks appear simple, robots cannot be used to perform them because they lack decision-making ability. Another interesting situation with Foxconn is that they dont design the products that they manufacture, the product is already designed when it is brought to them. As Yang Zhiqiang, editor in chief at automation website, said. “After all, Foxconn is a manufacturer for other companies’ original equipment and its clients have already completed the product design, so if a company wants to use robots to make products, at the beginning the company needs to consider the robot design in order to fit the production line.” This whole scenario proves a couple things to me, number one although automation may seem like the route to go in the technology filled world we live in, it may not be the most sensible. The other thing this story showed me was that maybe if managers treated employees with a greater level of respect and compensation for their work, there would be no need for buying the expensive equipment involved with automation. If you employees are not happy, there is no way around it, your company will fail, and it is managements job to make sure this does not happen.


Work Cited

Xuena, Li. “Why Foxconn’s Automation Hasn’t Been Smooth.” Market Watch. N.p., 14 May 2013. Web. <>.