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iPhone Maker Foxconn Has Replaced 60,000 Human Jobs with Robots

May 26, 2016, 6:17 PM UTC
21st Century, Foxconn
Photograph by Thomas Lee—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The biggest manufacturer of Apple (AAPL) products is going to replace human workers with robots.

Foxconn (FXCNY) has cut 60,000 jobs historically reserved for humans and is in the process of replacing them with robots, according to the BBC and the South China Morning Post. (Foxconn manufactures for a great number of brands and it’s not clear whether these changes affect Apple products.)

The factory has “reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots,” according to Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, in an interview with the Post. He added, “More companies are likely to follow suit.”

The news comes days after Foxconn’s founder Terry Gou said there be layoffs at Japanese company Sharp, which makes displays for electronics, to turn it around. Foxconn acquired Sharp officially in April.

Foxconn working conditions have made headlines in recent years when workers committed suicide in 2010, as Fortune reported at the time.


Foxconn added in a statement to the BBC that it is automating numerous jobs that have historically been filled by human workers. “We are applying robotics engineering and other innovative manufacturing technologies to replace repetitive tasks previously done by employees,” according to the company, “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.”

“We will continue to harness automation and manpower in our manufacturing operations,” it added, “and we expect to maintain our significant workforce in China.”

Fortune has reached out to Foxconn for comment and will update this story if we hear back.