In the past, U.S. companies could not compete with the cheap labor found offshore but things are changing rapidly. Many industry insiders not only agree that technology, including 3D printing will bring back manufacturing to our shores but also the steadily decline in economic growth that once prosperous, off shore countries are beginning to experience. This past year, not only was the world jolted by the financial set back of many of these countries but executives are also scrambling to cope with the changes in the global world of business.
Approximately 95,000 new professional service robots, worth some $17.1bn, are set to be installed for professional use between 2013 and 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics. That excludes an estimated 22m domestic service robots – the autonomous vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers that are already becoming a familiar sight to consumers.
While consumers began to complain in response to media coverage over working conditions, prompting Apple to hire an audit of the factories, Foxconn’s President Terry Gou had another idea for dealing with labor concerns: replace people with robots. In fact, last year Gou said that the company would be aiming to replace 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within 3 years.
It appears as if Gou has started the ball in motion. Since the announcement, a first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have made its way into at least one factory, and by the end of 2012, another 20,000 more will be installed.