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Fewer workers, more robots: Apple would aim for a radical change for the assembly of future iPhones

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While it is on the verge of introducing generative artificial intelligence to its ecosystem, Apple is also reportedly on the verge of transforming the way its iPhones are assembled. Indeed, the Cupertino company would push its employees and partners to find new ways to automate this assembly, in order to reduce the number of workers required. In any case, this is what an article recently published by The Information (via 9to5Mac) indicates, which cites sources close to the matter. Apple's long-term goal would be to reduce the number of people needed to assemble its iPhones in factories by 50%. The initiative would have been taken after a violent riot in 2022 in a Foxconn factory which assembles iPhones in China. This incident was linked to Beijing's strict anti-COVID policy.

Automation projects, which were previously rejected due to investment costs, would now be accepted by Apple. Indeed, some of the equipment needed for this automation can cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year. In any case, the strategy is already bearing fruit. For example, Apple suppliers are already said to be using machines capable of installing metal brackets and circuit boards without human intervention. This type of innovation would have already made it possible to eliminate thousands of positions. And for certain stages of assembly, the number of humans required would have already been reduced by 30%.

Objective: fewer hazards& ;nbsp;?

However, not all assembly automation projects are successful. For example, Apple reportedly wanted to automate the installation of buttons and other components on future iPhone 16s. But this project was reportedly abandoned due to too many errors. In any case, to support this effort to automate assembly, Apple is also reportedly relying on acquisitions. For example, thanks to the acquisition of DarwinAI, Apple has an AI that can inspect components during assembly. The firm is also said to have acquired a company called Drishti, whose technology is said to be able to analyze camera videos to identify bottlenecks and production problems.

As usual, this information should nevertheless be considered with caution, since it does not come from an official source. But in the long run, Apple’s automation push could impact the labor market in China. And it could even give the Cupertino company more freedom over where its products are assembled. By relying less on Chinese labor, Apple can produce more iPhones in other countries, which would also insulate its production from geopolitical tensions.

  • After riots broke out at an assembly plant in 2022, Apple reportedly decided to step up its automation efforts
  • More and more steps are being carried out by robots and the firm's goal would be a 50% reduction in the number of workers in factories
  • Apple could thus become less dependent on labor, and reduce its exposure to hazards such as COVID, or geopolitical tensions
  • It would also be easier for Apple to move this production to other countries

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116