Hoping to save money on labor, China's Foxconn Technology Group could also be ushering in a new era of manufacturing as it sets its sites on putting 1 million robots to work.
The world's largest contract electronics maker already has 20,000 robotic machines on the job in its factories, and it's on track to hit its goal of creating a "million-robot army," CEO Terry Gou said recently.
With wages on the rise in China, robots will help Foxconn save money, Gou said at the company's annual shareholder's meeting in Taipei. "We have over 1 million workers," he said. "In the future, we will add 1 million robotic workers" and the humans will become technicians and engineers.
Foxconn has spent three years creating robots, Gou said, but it will need more time to fully develop the technology, which will be used specifically for assembling devices such as mobile phones.
Robots have long been used to build cars and big electronic products. But people are still the best choice for assembling smaller gadgets, experts said.
Gou also said that Foxconn hopes to expand its U.S. manufacturing operations, if economic conditions allow. The company currently employs thousands of people in Indianapolis and Houston, he said.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.