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Foxconn set to extend production lines to US

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Foxconn Technology Group, affiliated with Hon Hai Group, is expected to relocate part of its production lines for Apple products to the U.S. from mainland China, with robotic arms likely to be mass employed, the China Today website reported yesterday.

The website cited Foxconn spokesman Hu Kuo-hui as saying that extending production to the U.S. is a necessary step for the group to be in-line with Apple's decision to have its products made in the U.S.

One of the major challenges facing Foxconn in expanding production to the U.S. lies in the smooth operation of supply chains. In this regard, Hu said it's imperative for Foxconn to get support from U.S. engineering talents, especially in the field of robotics.

Foxconn-Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou announced in June this year that Foxconn has planned to install 1 million industrial robots at its plants in mainland China by the end of 2014, to boost production efficiency and reduce its production workforce in the mainland, which has hit a high of 1.5 million people.

But at a shareholders' meeting held later on, Gou changed the schedule, saying that he hoped to complete a fully automated factory in the next five to 10 years. At the moment, robotic arms installed at the firm's plants in the mainland can conduct simple operations, such as polishing the exterior of iPhones, which is still performed manually.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Foxconn has encountered obstacles in carrying out the massive robotic arm installation project, with barriers including large-scale investment funds, technical problems and the attitude of mainland Chinese authorities.

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