According to a story in Seeking Alphaª, Apple plans to purchase billions of dollars of industrial robots from Fanuc for placement within Foxconn’s factories in China. Neither Apple nor Foxconn have confirmed the piece.
It takes 141 steps to make an iPhone and passes through 325 pairs of hands over 5 days. Although labor only represents about 3% of the cost of building these products, wages of Chinese factory workers have been rising at about 15% a year. Problems managing this workforce have also tarnished Apple’s image. Thus Apple’s move represents an important step.
The Apple robots deployed by Foxconn and other Apple sub-contractors, will be designated for use in only making iProducts. That’s a strategic move on Apple’s part to tie up a huge chunk of global robot and electronics production and stay ahead of the competition.
Seeking Alphaª says that Apple will increase it’s capital outlays to $7.1 billion and believes that a significant portion of that sum will be for robot and automated, computerized machine tool purchases.