Apple, Samsung supplier replaces 60,000 factory workers with robots

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In efforts to reduce labor costs, a county in the Jiangsu province in China is replacing factory workers with artificial intelligence robots. One company headquartered in the Kunshan county, Foxconn, a manufacturer and supplier of electronics to companies including Apple and Samsung, recently reported eliminating 60,000 factory jobs, according to a South China Morning Post report.

"The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of [labor] costs," Xu Yulian, head of the Kunshan's publicity department, told SCMP. "More companies are likely to follow suit."

Foxconn was one of 35 companies to spend a total of approximately $610 million on artificial intelligence last year, according to the report, and up to 600 companies in Kunshan have plans to introduce robots in place of workers.

In comments to BBC, Foxconn said while it did introduce robots and was automating many manufacturing tasks, the company does not anticipate long-term job losses.

"We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees, and through training, also enable our employees to focus on higher value-added elements in the manufacturing process, such as research and development, process control and quality control."

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