Here’s an interesting case study of a factory in China that added robots because management needed to increase productivity and cut costs. It’s refreshingly honest because the boss doesn’t bother to lie with silly stories about how robots will “help” workers by doing the boring repetitive stuff — the company is doing it to save money, period. It’s Red China and they don’t pretend to care about workers’ feelings.
Plus, the report explains in plain language the workers cut versus the productivity gained. Management used automation to shrink the workforce from 440 to 370, and at the same time it increased its production of lenses from four million to five million annually. Sorry, Chinese workers. This is progress in the automation age.
China used to supply the cheap labor that western manufacturers want, but now they need even cheaper automation that doesn’t require breaks, lunch or paychecks.
The point here is that the same switch to automation is going on all around the industrialized world, but the ChiComs are at least more honest about their financial motivation.
Factory replaces workers demanding higher wages with robots to cut costs, Mirror (UK), September 12, 2016The company has overhauled their workforce with automated machinery producing record unitsRobots are being brought in to replace human workers in China because people are seeking higher wages.This footage shows the production line in a factory which produces lenses for the German company Carl Zeiss.The automated tasks being practised by the robotic workers include applying protection films, cutting, polishing and packaging.Although the roles used to be performed by human beings, reports CCTV News , the change came as the manager of the plant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.Zeng Zhiyong, Carl Zeiss Vision Technologies (Guangzhou) Ltd explains: “In 2012, the Zeiss Group informed us that labour in China was twice as expensive as in Mexico and four times that in India.“We were very surprised at this huge gap and started to think of how to improve productivity.”The installation of machines to carry out the tasks has seen the workforce shrink from 440 workers – who were producing four million lenses every year – to 370 humans in 2015 – with output increased to five million.Zeng adds that their current cost per lens is the lowest of all the Zeiss factories in the world.Other factories including the Rongxin Packaging Corporation have made the switch, where Ji Yonghong explains they bought in a new $34 million – around £25.6 million – production line in 2013 and are now producing 1.8 million cans daily.“We used to have 60 workers in one shift but now we only need 48. And they’re only responsible for quality control and machine maintenance,” Ji says.He adds that the complex processes mean better educated workers are required, and as a result earn 10-20% more than average.