How Much will Rethink Robotics Baxter merge with the Foxconn Automation Wave ?

Morning Whistle – Foxconn has has 1.2 million employees, is planning quicker moves to replace human workforce with robots. Foxconn makes most of Apple’s gadgets like the iPhone and iPad.

As early as August, Foxconn said it would continue to cut overtime to less than nine hours a week from the current 20. This means one-third fewer hours for the hundreds of thousands of Foxconn workers across China.

WantChinaTimes – Terry Gou, chairman and CEO of Foxconn, had previously said that he was planning to add around 300,000 robots to the assembly line in 2012. The robot plan has not been implemented as smoothly as expected, with the number of robots being used at only about one-twentieth of the proposed 300,000 automatons needed (15,000).

Rethink Robotics is a well funded US startup by Rodney Brooks. They are targeting 300,000 small and medium sized US manufacturers and more of that size throughout the world.

For the next three years, it would seem that Foxconn massive volume and construction of new robot friendly factories will mean faster adoption and use of new robotics than Rethink Robotics.

Foxconn will definitely be inspired by Rethink Robotics to adopt methods that will lower the cost and increase the capabilities of Foxconn robots.

It will be interesting to see if the innovations at Rethink Robotics will enable them to ultimately have a wider impact and higher volume of robots than Foxconn.

Foxconn was widely using robots on its assembly lines at Shenzhen and Jincheng.

Foxconn had acquired the robots mainly for its own use and would not sell them to rival contract manufacturers. Therefore, in the short term, other electronics contract manufacturers would have to mainly rely on human resources for their operations.

Currently, the cost of using robots is higher than employing human workers, Zuo said, adding that a robot could cost at least 100,000 yuan (US$15,800) in equipment amortization and maintenance.

The report noted that in comparison, the base salary for an entry-level worker was 1,800 yuan (US$285) per month. If overtime work fees and other payments were added, the monthly salary of a worker would amount, at most, to a meager 3,000 yuan (US$475).

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