Apple desires to exchange 50% of iPhone last meeting line employees with automation

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A brand new report from The Info right now particulars Apple’s efforts to automate extra of the iPhone manufacturing course of. The report explains that Apple has informed managers to “cut back the variety of employees on iPhone last meeting strains by as a lot as 50% over the subsequent few years.”

In line with the report, this edict was handed down by Sabih Khan, Apple’s senior vice chairman of operations. The choice was reportedly made shortly after violent clashes between iPhone employees and police exterior of Foxconn’s main meeting plant in November 2022.

So as to cut back its total headcount, The Info stories that Apple is transferring ahead with provide chain and manufacturing automation tasks that it “had beforehand mothballed as a result of excessive up-front prices.”

The equipment essential to automate iPhone manufacturing can generally price a whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} annually. In some cases, Apple pressured manufacturing companions to make this up-front funding, with various levels of success.

In line with information printed by Apple in annual provide chain stories, “the entire variety of workers it displays at its manufacturing companions for work-hour compliance” fell from 1.6 million in 2022 to 1.4 million in 2023.

The report says there’s a “important quantity of automation” within the last meeting of the iPhone 15. A lot of this work is led by Peter Thompson, an operations vice chairman at Apple:

Over the previous 12 months, Thompson’s crew has efficiently automated elements of the iPhone’s meeting, working carefully with manufacturing companions similar to Foxconn, Luxshare Precision and Pegatron. These successes embrace machines that set up metallic brackets and versatile printed circuit boards onto elements with out human support, mentioned a number of folks with direct data of the hassle.

These and related efforts have allowed Apple and its companions to eradicate positions for hundreds of employees in China, based on individuals who work in Apple’s provide chain. For some processes, they’ve lowered headcount by as a lot as 30%, based on one worker at an iPhone manufacturing companion.

The Info additionally factors to a pair of acquisitions which have helped Apple’s provide chain automation efforts, together with DarwinAI. Apple additionally reportedly acquired an organization known as Drishti final 12 months, which analyzes video footage of meeting strains to “determine bottlenecks and manufacturing issues in real-time.

For the iPhone 16 this 12 months, Apple had initially deliberate to automate the method of putting in iPhone buttons and different elements. Nevertheless, these plans had been canceled “due to the excessive charge of defects.”

Nonetheless, even because it hits obstacles alongside the best way, Apple’s finish objective is to scale back the variety of employees on the ultimate iPhone meeting strains by as much as 50%.

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