Demystifying Foxconn Lights Off Factory

25 Jun 2019

On January 10, 2019, Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum announced that the Industrial Fulian “Flexible Assembly Operation Smart Factory” (hereinafter referred to as “Lights Off Factory”) was selected as one of the seven new members of the electronics manufacturing expo “Manufacturing Lighthouse Factory” network. A member of the world's sixteen industry 4.0 future smart factories.

For the Industrial Fulian Shenzhen Light-off Factory, the World Economic Forum's evaluation is: the use of fully automated manufacturing processes in factories specializing in the production of electrical equipment components such as smart phones, equipped with machine learning and artificial intelligence equipment automatic optimization system, intelligent self-maintenance system and The intelligent electronics manufacturing expo production real-time condition monitoring system truly realizes the “light-off factory”, and under the premise of giving priority to the use of the fourth industrial revolution technology, the production efficiency is increased by 30% and the inventory cycle is reduced by 15%.

At present, Foxconn already has 10 lights-off production lines (fully automated production lines) and deployed more than 40,000 “Foxbot” industrial robots developed and produced by the electronics manufacturing expo company. Foxconn already has the ability to produce approximately 10,000 Foxbot robots per year.

In addition to industrial robots, Foxconn electronics manufacturing expo is also developing medical robots. Although robotics is constantly improving, industrial robots cannot completely replace people because people can switch from one task to another flexibly and quickly.

For this reason, the treatment of the relationship between people and machines has become the main criterion for the electronics manufacturing expo degree of automation of the lights-off factory.

Three automation stages of the light-off factory

The first stage is industrial automation, which we can understand as "points."

This is not to replace people in large numbers, but to replace people with robots, to do work that people are not willing to do, to have fun, or to work dangerously, such as lathe processing and polishing, and the working electronics manufacturing expo environment is very bad.

The first thing we started doing was polishing the robot. After it was developed, it gradually replaced the manual and worked in a dusty environment.

The second stage is the automation of the entire production line, which we can understand as “line”. After optimizing the production line, you can reduce the amount of robots used.

The third stage is the whole field automation, which can be called “face”. It can realize unmanned or less humanized in the whole process of electronics manufacturing expo production, logistics and testing.

Now, although smart robots have been used in some places in China, most of the places have not yet been automated.

Foxconn is already moving in this direction, including the factory in Chengdu. Now, the Shenzhen electronics manufacturing expo and Zhengzhou factories are advancing automation, which is in the second and third stages.

Economic benefits brought by the lights-off factory

Taking the Shenzhen Light-off Factory, which was selected as the network of electronics manufacturing expo manufacturing lighthouse factories, as an example, the entire project introduced 108 automation equipments and completed networking.

In the process, 9 SMT equipments were introduced, saving 50 people and saving 96%; ASSY imported 21 units, saving 74 people, saving 79%; Test imported 78 units, saving 156 people, saving 88%. After the completion of the overall project, the manpower saved 280 people, the manpower saved 88%, and the benefit was 2.5 times.

In addition, in the long run, robots are cheaper than labor. However, the initial investment may be high, because the cost of developing a robot that can perform various tasks is high, time consuming, and difficult.

At present, China's human labor costs are much lower than robots. But in the face of rising electronics manufacturing expo labor costs in the future, Foxconn must transition to full automation to remain competitive.

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