One of China’s first unmanned factories in the city of Dongguan recently replaced 590 of its workers with robots and the results were astounding. While the factory used to be run by 650 employees, only 60 of those people still work at the factory and their primary job is to make sure the machines are running properly, not working on manufacturing.
The Changying Precision Technology Company focuses on the production of mobile phones and uses automated production lines. The robotic arms produce certain parts of the mobile phones at each station and the factory even makes use of autonomous transport trucks.
Though 60 is a shocking amount of people to be running and monitoring a whole factory, the trial for the robots is going so well that the general manager, Luo Weiqiang, said that the number of human employees may even drop to 20 someday.
Since the shift to robots, pieces per person per month has risen from 8,000 to 21,000—a whopping 250% increase. While some may argue that quality of the product will decrease with the use of robots, this doesn’t appear to be the case either. The number of product defects has decreased from 25% to just 5%.
This company isn’t the only one to make the change from humans to robots, especially not in China where the Made In China 2025 initiative aims to apply technological advances to production, which includes using robotics.
It’s unclear what this shift means for factory workers in the nation, but it’s not looking positive for those demanding fair working conditions and wages. The change to robotics comes at a time when the climate around factory workers is becoming volatile, even inciting strikes in several different areas. While quality and production are great for those purchasing the products, humans need jobs and they deserve to work in a humane environment. As more robots take the place of human factory workers, one can only hope that those workers turn to a more stable job where they can’t be replaced and they aren’t mistreated.
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