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Foxconn’s Robot Army Gains Orders of Apple and Xiaomi

By Vincent Wang
Published: May 07,2015

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Foxconn, the Taiwanese assembler of iPhones and iPads has actively developed and penetrated the industrial robots, Day Chia-peng, General Manager of the company’s Automation Technology Development Committee said that their robot army is the reason to win the smartphone orders from Apple and Xiaomi.

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According to Wall Street Journal, Day Chia-peng pointed out that the deficit underscores the challenges Foxconn faces in fine tuning its robots—a catch-all term that includes robotic arms and other automated equipment—to handle the intricate tasks required to assemble modern gear and gadgets.

While the company has automated more manufacturing processes for components and established some lights-out, or workerless, factories, replacing dexterous human hands that pack tiny flexible parts into the tight structure of consumer electronics remains challenging, Day Chia-peng told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview.

Allegedly, Foxconn recently installed a noodle-making Foxbot at Dazzling Noodles, an open-kitchen Chinese restaurant in Shanxi province in Northern China. Foxbot makes knife-cut noodles, a specialty of the region, where Terry Gou, the company’s Chairperson traces his ancestral roots. Not only does Foxbot slice noodles quicker than a human hand, it also cleans itself.

Meanwhole, Foxconn has provided three robots to Dazzling Noodles and is working on a fourth. Automation engineers are working to get the robot to handle more cooking tasks, including picking cooked noodles from boiling water.

Based on an earlier report, no company would divulge the robot’s cost. Foxconn also wouldn’t say if it plans to make more robots for the food industry or expand into the commercial automation market, dominated by giants such as Japan’s Fanuc and U.S.-based ABB Robotics. Foxconn is ranked in the top four owners of U.S. patents related to robotics used specifically for manufacturing and assembly-line purposes, behind Applied Materials, IBM and Honda Motor, according to Manhattan-based patent advisory company Envision IP.

Accordingly, there are around 50,000 automated employees and still has more than one million humans in its chain of Foxconn Chinese factories.

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