Foxconn Technology Group’s decision to start making solar power modules may speed the rate at which margins are narrowing for Chinese manufacturers, another blow for an industry already coping with a plunge in prices.
The Taiwanese company that’s the world’s biggest contract maker of electronics including Apple Inc.’s IPhone started work on a solar-module plant in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu near the headquarters of Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the largest silicon-based module manufacturer.
“Foxconn plans to build new factories with undreamed-of scale and lower cost,” Jenny Chase, who leads a team of six solar analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said yesterday. “It will push capacity higher and prices lower.”
According to Focus Taiwan, the company recently announced it was building a $223 million “robot kingdom” in the Central Taiwan Science Park in the Taiwanese city of Taichung.
The research and development center and manufacturing hub is part of chairman Terry Gou’s ambitious plan to build one million industrial robots.
Let’s put that in perspective; according to a September report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the world is on track to reach 1.3 million operating industrial robots by 2014. That means that if Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., reaches its goals, it would effectively double the number of industrial robots worldwide.
Foxconn is looking to produce 300,000 robots by next year and one million in the next three years. The industrial robots will perform simple tasks such as spraying and assembly. If all goes according to plan, an estimated 500,000 of Foxcon’s 1.2 million jobs will be obsolete.