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Foxconn Invests $210 Million To Build New Production Line For Apple 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the crank-it-out dept.
redletterdave writes "On Monday, Foxconn agreed to invest $210 million to help Apple build out a new production line for 'unspecified components.' The 40,000-square-meter plant plans to hire roughly 35,800 new employees to help assemble parts for either desktop and laptop computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, or possibly even new products or devices. Apple projects the plant's annual output between $949 million to $1.1 billion, and also estimates the import and export value at roughly $55.8 million."
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Foxconn Invests $210 Million To Build New Production Line For Apple

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:08PM (#40070301)

    Why on earth do they need that many people. Aren't these electronics lines automated? (On another note: When was the last time a U.S. or EU company announced hiring 36,000 people.)

    • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:11PM (#40070339)

      Don't you get it? The new product will be the technological equivalent of Soylent Green ... a "Soylent brushed metal and glass".

    • by Hentes (2461350) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:13PM (#40070369)

      In some places people are cheaper than robots.

      • by imbusy (1002705)
        I sometimes wonder what these people will do once the reverse is true.
        • by homer_ca (144738)

          Kick back to a life of leisure while machines do all the work?

      • by gutnor (872759)
        And you cannot believe how cheap they are. I order tools from india from time to time. Any type of marking is done by hand. For the majority of the markings, the machinery to do that can of work cost only a few thousands and would run literally forever with little maintenance. Yet, people (and mistake made by those people) are cheaper than that.
      • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:31PM (#40071111)

        Yeah, but you don't need to install netting for robots.

        They prefer using the suicide booths.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's mostly down to the time it takes to design and construct an assembly line for making electronic products. The time it takes to do all that it generally longer than the production run of the device (especially with smartphones). It's much cheaper and simpler to just get a massive manned production line to do it instead.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Here's your 1.2 square meters, now get to work!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's called shifts. Likely 3 of them. An average 3.6 square meters is definitely small (surely less when you subtract equipment) but it isn't 1.2.

        • by gnasher719 (869701) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:15PM (#40070979)
          There's also some loss of information in TFA. The submitter changed "a plant that covers 40,000 square meters" to "a 40,000 square meters plant". Quite possible there will be more than one floor. A plant with five floors covering 40,000 square meters would be a 200,000 square meter plant.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Three shifts? More like two. Read TFA. Many workers report working 12 hours a day.

        • by Guppy (12314)
          Depending on how they counted them, there are probably also many employees working outside the plant as well, handling things like transportation and external infrastructure. For a plant of this size, the number of associated employees not actually in the plant could be quite substantial.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:51PM (#40070773)
      I'm sure they know what they're doing. But I do find it interesting that this foxconn plant will employ ten times as many people [fb.com] as all of facebook.com (with 3500 employees). The idea that there could ever be enough "knowledge worker" jobs to replace what manufacturing used to be just doesn't hold up.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well one hardware device can support a whole lot more than one site or one piece of software. So Foxconn makes hardware for Apple devices. How many app developers in total make software for Apple devices? According to the latest bragging numbers there's over 500,000 apps and while many are simple some are not. And that doesn't include every other site on the Internet who can live off people using the web browser. For that matter, look at PCs and compare the hardware industry to the whole software industry.

      • Especially since knowledge management is ever increasingly done by machines. Even some tasks which used to require human intelligence like voice recognition or eyeball inspections of produced goods can now be automated. What's left? Making clay pots and selling them? Or perhaps tulips...
      • by u38cg (607297)
        Well, if you take my old home town - Glasgow - there are more people working in "knowledge" than there ever were in industry, and this was one of the UK's largest industrial cities.

        Knowledge workers have massive multiplicative effects - meaning one knowledge worker typically creates a support base of several other workers - everything from tech support to delivery drivers. Manufacturing jobs don't do that.

        • by shilly (142940)

          What makes you think that manufacturing jobs don't have multiplier effects? You're flat-out wrong. Think about the two specific roles you cited, for a start: tech support and delivery drivers. You don't think there's an analogue to tech support for manufacturing? Trouble-shooting teams? And you don't think that goods need to be transported both to and from manufacturing sites? Manufacturing typically has a *higher* multiplier effect than service jobs. But they're both Good Things.

          • by u38cg (607297)
            The marginal multiplier of manufacturing jobs is much lower than for service workers. Adding extra workers to a factory doesn't add to the amount of maintainance the machinery requires, but adding service workers adds a certain amount of tech support requirement.

            Of course, this is all very handwavey and it varies hugely by sector. But the point remains that industrial towns that have undergone this transformation succesfully now have higher employment than they did before.

            • by shilly (142940)

              Care to point to some studies that back up your position? You've just reasserted your original statement. Adding extra workers to a factory is typically done because of increasing volumes of output, and that certainly *does* increase maintenance requirements, plus all the suppliers need to make more stuff also, thus adding jobs.

              A quick look at the US BEA's website suggests a multiplier of 2.34 for manufacturing vs 1.55 for professional and business services.

              I couldn't find any evidence that demonstrated tha

    • by mveloso (325617) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:14PM (#40070971)

      If you watched the Foxconn video (or seen any industrial production video), you'd see that for certain types of assembly it's cheaper and easier to get people to do it than to mechanize.

      Mechanization requires lots of tooling and is relatively hard to change once built. It's easier to just hire a lot of people and change their procedures when needed.

      There's no secret to mass assembly - it's just a serious logistical challenge. Everything needs to be specified, exactly.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Why on earth do they need that many people. Aren't these electronics lines automated? (On another note: When was the last time a U.S. or EU company announced hiring 36,000 people.)

      - yeah, because Chinese government hasn't yet mandated an entire slew of things that would prevent a company just from trying to build a business and instead would force a company to look for ways to get away from hiring people and find ways to do the same work without any hiring at all.

      This is the direct proof that all this government intervention in the USA and Europe etc. is what PREVENTS JOBS FROM HAPPENING and KILLS EXISTING JOBS.

      • by rajafarian (49150)

        Not everyone here wants to get rid of regulations like minimum wage, OSHA, and environmental laws. Historically corporations here have screwed the environment (and everything else) if they are not regulated. I think things would be different if somehow the CEO was personally liable to some extent for the corporations' actions but I think we can agree that they are not.

        Yeah, ALEC and Republicans really want to bring China here, fast. And many Americans don't like it!

      • Nah, it just means if they can save a buck by moving to China they will.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Flexible work force. You can issue orders to a group and have them execute different orders or work different shifts immediately.

    • by Chas (5144)

      It's so that Apple can have their own clean, friendly production facility so that Foxconn can stop disrupting work at their hellhole^H^H^H^slave camp^H^H^H^H^other sweatshops to comply with public inspections by people who'd be outraged by how they NORMALLY do business.

      In other words, a facade, like everything else at Apple.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Wait, are you saying that Apple demanding, and getting, better working conditions for the employees that assemble their products is somehow a bad thing?!? I mean why would you be down on Apple rather than all the other tech companies that outsource to Foxconn and don't make the same demands?
        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          Nooo...he is saying what Apple and Foxconn is doing is simply a variation of a Potemkin Village [wikipedia.org] where you build a front to please the suits but in reality the vast majority of Foxconn workers will be living like shit. This lets Apple say they are "changing things" when in reality they are still doing business with a scummy company, they are simply having a nice front made for THEIR products and their products alone.
    • Portions of the parts manufacture are automated, but Assembly is done by humans. Don't know if you have ever disassembled a laptop or not, but it is definitely delicate work better done by quick dextrous humans.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Chinese workers are cheap, and plentiful (in the less developed provinces that is, this plant is to set up in Hainan, not in Shenzhen where their main site is).

      No matter what, that's going to be one heck of a crowded factory.

      40,000 m2 for 35,800 workers: that's just over 1 m2 per employee. Now they're said to work 12 hours a day, so assume two shifts, that's doubling the space to 2 m2 per worker. That's incredibly tight, considering this includes all space for tools and machines, conveyor belts, warehousing

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Why on earth do they need that many people. Aren't these electronics lines automated? (On another note: When was the last time a U.S. or EU company announced hiring 36,000 people.)

      Only assembly lines in the western world are automated because labor's expensive enough that having a few robot technicians to maintain/program the robots is far cheaper than hiring people to manually do it. In China, labor's so cheap that the initial capital costs of robots and robot technicians aren't recouped by the time the ro

    • by gtall (79522)

      From what I gather, Apple does do some designs in such a way that it requires a lot of people to assemble just so other valued Chinese or foreign companies won't set up a mechanized line to knock out knock offs faster than Apple can produce originals. This means that to knock off an Apple product successfully, you'd need a lot of up front investment, something the knock off companies won't do.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 21, 2012 @06:31PM (#40070599) Homepage

    Huh? Huai'an city is not in Hainan. It's in Jiangsu province, about 100km west of Shanghai. Hainan is an island off the southern coast of China, near Vietnam.

    The China Daily article [chinadaily.com.cn] says there are two separate projects. Foxconn is both building this plant in Huai'an and starting up a new manufacturing base down in Hainan. The Hainan facility is not necessarily Apple-oriented.

  • In the USA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mspohr (589790) on Monday May 21, 2012 @07:34PM (#40071145)

    I'll go out on a limb and hazard a guess that this plant is not in the USA and won't provide any jobs in the USA.
    Too bad that one of America's top companies outsources most of its production. Their profit margins could support USA jobs.

    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday May 21, 2012 @08:34PM (#40071619) Journal

      Too bad that one of America's top companies outsources most of its production

      Well ... there is one very simple way of stop companies from outsourcing anything - work in America while accepting Chinese wages

      Are you willing to work in America while receiving wages equal to what the Chinese workers are receiving?

      • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday May 21, 2012 @08:50PM (#40071713)

        There's another way. Stop this suicidal race to the bottom. It would be nice if we had CEOs that weren't a bunch of Randist supermen, who might actually consider helping the society that let them reach their current heights. Since that doesn't seem likely to happen, I'd settle for raising their taxes. They always complain that increasing taxes will drive away the job creators. From where I sit, those people aren't creating any American jobs, so their argument falls flat.

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday May 21, 2012 @11:05PM (#40072553) Journal

          There's another way. Stop this suicidal race to the bottom.

          Unfortunately there is no way to stop this blind rush to the bottom

          How much are you willing to pay for your next iPAD? $7,999.00 or $499.00 ?

          How much are you willing to pay for your next iTV? $18,999.00 or $999.00 ?

          You are the consumer, you vote with your wallet. and get to decide where your next purchase will be made

          If you want your next gadget to be made in the US of A, be prepared to pay more, much more than what you are currently willing to pay

          Do not blame the CEO, the "Top 1%", for the outsourcing of jobs

          It's YOU and ME, the consumers, who have told corporations such as Apple, LOUDLY, with our collective wallets, that we want our next gadget to be CHEAP - and the corporations oblige, by seeking out the place where they can make the gadget with the lowest cost possible, namely the Far East

          • by microbee (682094)

            It's only a minor part of the story. Aside from prices consumers are willing to pay, there are also profits. Even if we are willing to pay more, corporations are still going to outsource to maximize their profits.

            I think we just have to accept it. We just have to live with the fact that US is the home of innovation and creative work, but not necessarily manfacturing. I disagree that investing in China creates no US jobs - that's shortsighted. You look at 40K Chinese workers, and you should also look at the

          • by master_p (608214)

            You forget one important factor in your analysis, and that is the profit of the business owner.

            If the business owner was willing to lower his profits, then the products could be produced in USA and still be cheap.

            And the American workers that worked on those products would get descent salaries too.

          • by u38cg (607297)
            Actually, labour costs are not a major factor in Apple products. Most of it is components and profit. The reason for manufacturing in China is that Foxconn can put fifty thousand workers on a new line tomorrow - which is exactly what happened when Steve Jobs decided the iPhone had to have a glass screen a few weeks before launch. No American factory could come close to the capacity required to make that switch in such a short timeframe.
        • by couchslug (175151)

          It's global adjustment, the Chinese are NOT racing to the bottom.

          Americans can work for much less money then they do now but it will take years for low wages to FORCE down the cost of living.

          The world is catching up. Get used to it.

      • Wages are a small part of the cost of an iPhone. They could be made in the US for something like $60 more per phone.

        If you search for "build iphone in america", you find lots of articles with the same quote:

        Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, fo

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327)

          Wages are a small part of the cost of an iPhone. They could be made in the US for something like $60 more per phone.

          If you search for "build iphone in america", you find lots of articles with the same quote:

          Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhoneâ(TM)s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

          A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the companyâ(TM)s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

          âoeThe speed and flexibility is breathtaking,â the executive said. âoeThereâ(TM)s no American plant that can match that.â

          No, I will argue that wage IS the determinant factor

          It's much more than the $60.00 more per iPhone

          Can you try to imagine Apple does what they did in China in a factory inside the US of A - getting 8,000 workers back to work the production line, in the middle of the night, with just a biscuit and a cup of tea??

          1. No worker in America will work for a biscuit and a cup of tea in the middle of the night

          2. If they do, the American workers will demand HUGE INCREASE IN WAGE BONUS - much more than the $60 that y

          • by Relayman (1068986)
            Oh, it's worse that that. To have 35,800 workers show up on a given day, you would have to have almost 40,000 workers on the payroll.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hahn (101816)
      They are not a charity organization. Why would they create much more expensive USA jobs if it doesn't help their business or maximize profits for their shareholders? You might think it's the right thing to do. A shareholder of AAPL might disagree. People who like to buy Apple products might also disagree when the prices go up.
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Too bad that one of America's top companies outsources most of its production. Their profit margins could support USA jobs.

      Profit is not made on production. That's a very low-margin business, as it's largely unskilled labour. And unskilled labour, by being unskilled, is easily replaceable. The only thing that gives companies like Foxconn a negotiation position is because Foxconn is so big, that they can actually handle the volumes Apple demands, and that they can make significant investments in new plants by themselves. Most factories in China are not that big, can't handle huge volumes, and are not in a strong position to nego

    • by bigdavex (155746)

      If you were a hard-working Asian, you would have RTFA and not have to guess.

      • by mspohr (589790)

        For the clueless ...
        The question was rhetorical.
        (You may need to look up the term.)

  • I'm just waiting to see how the /. Apple haters twist this around so that it's bad when Apple builds their stuff in China but okay when Dell and HP do the same thing because Linux. Or something.
  • Personally, I think that Apple, Google, et. al. should be required to maintain some sort of interoperability between their media platforms, or at least open them enough that others can compete. If I buy a movie on iTunes, I should be able to play it on an Android machine (there's no real technical obstacle.) Same for books, music, etc.

    This is clear monopolistic behavior, and should be crushed like a bug.

  • Did anybody ready the article? The plant is being built in Taiwan, not in the People's Republic of China.

    Half of the comments are about plants in China. Taiwan, the last I checked, is still independent of China and may have much stricter employment rules.
    • by Guppy (12314)

      Did anybody ready the article? The plant is being built in Taiwan, not in the People's Republic of China.

      Yes we did, you just had a reading comprehension fail. The plant is being built in Hainan (a province of the PRC). The press statement is being issued from Taiwan ROC, where Foxconn's corporate offices are.

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