Hon Hai continues focus on robots
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-08 12:07 PM

For the first time, Hon Hai (2317) will introduce its proprietary robot “Foxbot” into the production of the iPhone 6 to make the iPhone 6 the world’s first smartphone assembled by a robot.

Industry insiders believe, robotic manufacturing is Hon Hai’s first step in strengthening production efficiency with the next step being communications between machines based on the concept of the internet of things to further increase competitiveness. In addition, since Hon Hai mostly assembles iPhones at its Zhengzhou plant, the industry believes that this plant will be the first in the Hon Hai group to have robots introduced to production lines.

Foreign media 9to5Mac reported, Hon Hai is accelerating its plans for production line robots with each robot costing between US$20,000 to US$25,000. The robots are currently in the final testing stage and the first batch of 10,000 robots will be introduced to manufacture the iPhone 6. Since these robots will initially be few in number, Hon Hai will employ them primarily on the company’s production line and will not make them available for sale.

Industry insiders believe, Hon Hai’s robots will initially play a support role in the manufacturing process. They will primarily be used in coarse processes such as tightening external screws, affixing external components, and polishing. However, the robot still cannot engage in processes that require visual determination or fine assembly. Thus, procedures such as quality control and precision component assembly must still rely on people.

In addition, foreign media has reported that there is a possibility Hon Hai will collaborate with Google to manufacture robots. After its deal with Softbank, this is Hon Hai’s next move to seize the U.S. robot market.

According to reports, after recently introducing the robot “Pepper” with Softbank, Hon Hai is aggressively laying plans to enter the U.S. robot market. Hon Hai is currently assessing the possibility of further robot investment in the U.S. and has dispatched talent to study at MIT. Nikkei News reported that robots represent Hon Hai’s next important industry after smartphones.

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