Friday, November 09, 2012

Foxconn plans U.S. plants, but not for iDevices

This report seems questionable on many levels, but it is what it is. On Thursday, DigiTimes, which has a mixed record in terms of rumors, said that Foxconn, Apple's biggest manufacturing partner, was going to open plants in the U.S. The report said:
Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) reportedly plans to establish manufacturing plants in the US and is currently conducting evaluations in cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles, according to market watchers. Since the manufacturing of Apple's products is rather complicated, the market watchers expect the rumored plants to focus on LCD TV production, which can be highly automated and easier.
That report seems strange because they are saying that "manufacturing of Apple's products is rather complicated," so they won't do any of that here. We'd blink at that. On the other hand, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou did say on Wednesday that the complex manufacturing process for the iPhone 5 was impacting supply.

Still, that part of the report seems questionable, as U.S. factory workers are quite capable of handling complex manufacturing procedures. For example, Los Angeles factory workers are well-versed in producing produce more complicated products than a smartphone, such military aircraft and space vehicles.

Time columnist Harry McCracken recently took a ruler out to measure the accuracy of Foxconn's leaks. Out of 25 of the site's tech stories, none have proven correct. "16 of these 25 stories turned out to be mostly or completely off-base. Five are largely or entirely correct. And four involve predictions that might yet come true."

Four out of 25 still valid, so that maximum accuracy could be 16 percent.

The report also said that Foxconn is planning a training program that will send U.S. engineers to China or Taiwan to learn the Chinese language and Foxconn's manufacturing processes.

Foxconn might need training of its own.  Foxconn will have to adapt to the U.S.  The company is obviously not going to create factory towns like at Shenzhen or Chengdu, in China.  Certainly, U.S. workers are not going to work at slave labor wages as in China or Brazil.

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