Foxconn’s display manufacturing arm Innolux will reportedly cut more than 10,000 jobs before the end of the year, reducing the total workforce from 60,000 workers at the end of 2017 to a staff that’s under 50,000 strong. Reportedly, this move will be made as a result of Foxconn’s continuous efforts to rely more on robots for automated manufacturing, with up to 75-percent of the production expected to be fully automated before the end of 2018.
The decision also follows a recent announcement from Foxconn chairman Terry Gou who revealed that the company intends on investing around $341 million over the next five years in order to develop artificial intelligence technologies for the purpose of smart manufacturing. The idea of replacing workers with robots is definitely not new for Foxconn, who back in mid-2016 had replaced around 60,000 of its factory workers with robots on the manufacturing line. It’s worth noting that Foxconn’s factory workers on average earn only $400 a month working 12-hour shifts, so it goes to show just how cost-effective robots and AI can be on the production line. In the wake of AI technologies combined with robotics, Foxconn might be a fine early example of how certain industries could change as they adopt artificial intelligence, and how some jobs will become obsolete as they will be replaced by smart robots and similar solutions. On the other hand, Foxconn is also establishing a new North American HQ in an office building recently acquired in downtown Milwaukee, and likewise, the tech giant is building a new manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, Racine County, Wisconsin, said to have the potential to create 13,000 new jobs.
Amid these structural changes and as Samsung and LG continue to dominate the OLED display market, Innolux is reportedly working on a new type of panel called active matrix mini LED, said to provide the same benefits of OLED technology, including a high level of flexibility required for foldable devices, all the while promising higher resilience compared to conventional OLED solutions. For these reasons, Innolux is reportedly looking to supply automakers with such panels, though it’s presently unlikely it will be able to start doing so in the short term, i.e. before the next decade.