In Dongguan City, central Guangdong province of China, a technology company has set up a factory run almost exclusively by robots.
The Changying Precision Technology Company factory in Dongguan, has automated production lines that use robotic arms to produce parts for cell phones. The factory also has automated machining equipment, autonomous transport trucks, and other automated equipment in the warehouse.
With this new arrangement the human employees have gone down from 650 to about 60. Three workers check and monitor each production line and there are other employees who monitor a computer control system. In the future, this number could drop further to 20 as said by the general manager, Luo Weiqian.
This human reduction in effect has resulted in almost triple fold increase in output. The robots have produced almost three times as many pieces as were produced before. Essentially, production per person has increased from 8,000 pieces to 21,000 pieces, a 162.5% increase.
Unlike with human workers, increased output comes with less errors, with the error rate reducing from 25% to 5%.
The shift happening with automation has been in the works for in the country for some time.
In March 2015, the Guangdong government announced a three year plan to increase automation in the region by subsidizing the purchase of robots.
Foxconn, the controversial manufacturer of many gadgets such as the iPhone and iPad, announced its robot initiative back in 2011. So did Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology, also based in Dongguan which announced similar plans in 2015.
The growth of robotics in the area’s factories comes amidst a particularly harsh climate around factory worker conditions, highlighted by strikes in the area. The new influence of robotics certainly won’t help much.
According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), electronics production was one of the biggest growth drivers for the sales of industrial robots. China was the largest market for industrial robotics in 2014 with nearly 60,000 robots sold.