Displaying items by tag: manufacturing
Taiwanese electronic colossus Foxconn has now admitted that it is currently reassessing its plans to invest in a new $10bn factory in Wisconsin.
When first announced it was hailed as a significant win for US President Donald Trump who had promised rust-belt states that he would breathe new life into the manufacturing sector and create millions of jobs.
However, that deal now may be dead in the water due to the ongoing dispute between Beijing and Washington that is becoming increasingly toxic.
Foxconn manufactures devices and components for a host of the world’s leading technology leaders including Apple, and had previously unveiled its plans to build the $10 billion plant to make LCD flat screen televisions which would also in turn create around 13,000 new jobs.
The investment was vetoed by $4bn in controversial tax concessions which were embraced by Trump who said the deal was another illustration of his campaign promise which was to put America ‘first’ again. Trump has also tried to strong arm other tech giants like Apple offering them tax breaks if they move manufacturing back to the United States.
Trump appeared with Foxconn CEO Terry Gou at a groundbreaking ceremony proclaiming and stated that, "This is just the beginning. This is one of the largest plants in the world."
However, the global economic climate roiled by Trump's trade war with China where Foxconn has most of its assembly lines -- has led officials at the Taiwanese company to look again at the plans.
"The global market environment that existed when the project was first announced has changed. As our plans are driven by those of our customers, this has necessitated the adjustment of plans for all projects, including Wisconsin," Foxconn said in a statement Thursday.
However, Foxconn has moved swiftly to deny it’s pulling out of the proposed investment and released an official statement saying it is remained committed to building its science park in Wisconsin and wants to help create 13,000 jobs".
Woo told Bloomberg, "We’re not scrapping our plans at all. However, given the global economic conditions and the trade tensions between China and the US, its’ impossible to say that we can always stay committed to our original plan without any change."
As India seeks to become a manufacturing hub for iPhone products and components, Apple has demanded the Indian government to extend tax breaks to its suppliers. If the government were to meet the request, officials said, it would require a new policy that could apply to all device-makers in the country.
The Californian iPhone-maker has been discussing the issue with Indian officials since May 2016, when chief executive Tim Cook met with Narendra Modi and agreed to establish a production base in India that acts as a base for more than just assembling devices.
“Prerequisites” are being discussed by Apple and India that the company submitted in October last year, including duty exemption on raw materials for manufacturing components and capital equipment for 15 years for Apple to be able to manufacture iPhones from scratch in the country.
Apple plans to bring in a multitude of these ancillary units when setting up operations in India, a government official said, which will contribute to the country’s transformation into one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets. But the government insists that Apple’s requests will have to be part of a wider policy implementation.
Apple only has a two percent share of India’s smartphone market, and the government’s delay in answering the company’s requests could harm its penetration of the market. China was once a major growth-driver for Apple, but its revenue dropped 14 percent year-on-year in the country in the three months ended April 1.
One of the greatest threats to jobs around the world is automation - smart factories of the future. Germany’s ‘Industry 4.0’ initiative promotes the computerization of traditional industries such as manufacturing, as do many government initiatives around the world. While some praise the idea of “intelligent manufacturing”, tech leaders have spoken out in support of a universal basic income (UBI) to avoid technology companies being perceived as job destroyers.
In 1962, the first industrial robot made its debut as ‘Unimate’ which came online at General Motors in New Jersey. Since then, the manufacturing industry has changed drastically. In the 1990s, production robots were lined up in factories piecing together products across assembly lines in a painfully repetitive process. Now, the manufacturing industry is going through the first stages of adopting artificially intelligent robots that can make production decisions in real time.
How does real time artificial intelligence work in manufacturing? The technology enables sensors to spot defects in production. When a defect is detected, the data is fed to a computer system in the cloud, which can then immediately remove the defective part of equipment from the production line and order a replacement. This efficient real time problem solving can save manufacturers billions of dollars in repairs and recalls.
Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric (GE), says manufacturing and industrial companies “need to become digital to survive.” Immelt believes the manufacturing industry must “turn information into insights and into outcomes.”
The advantages of smart manufacturing are clear: it enables industrial product companies, for instance, to keep their inventories as lean as possible to reduce costs and keep stock on-hand for when needed. Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative defines smart factories as being characterized by adaptability, resource efficiency, and making great use of wireless connections, sensors and big data.
5G, expected to be commercially deployed by 2020, will play a major role in connecting production line robotics by providing high-performance mobile services, says Ericsson’s recent report ‘The 5G Business Potential’. The manufacturing industry, it says, shows a strong market potential for ICT players.
The use of 5G in smart factories could offer “extensive benefits to manufacturing processes,” the report adds. “Connected cameras and sensing devices can, for example, provide feedback to control centers enabling skilled staff to control and steer manufacturing remotely, resulting in increased productivity and flexibility.”
Industry digitalization investments are growing, according to the report, generating revenue for ICT players worth an estimated US$3.3 trillion by 2026. In a nutshell, the manufacturing industry is entering a new digital intelligent era. Smart manufacturing aims to take advantage of advanced information and manufacturing technologies to enable flexibility in physical processes to address a dynamic and global market.
There will need to be increased workforce training for such flexibility and use of the technology rather than specific tasks as is customary in traditional manufacturing, according to experts. Many fear that smart manufacturing will become so advanced that the need for humans in the workforce will diminish.
“There is going to be a backlash when it comes to jobs,” said Sayantan Ghosal, an economics professor at the University of Glasgow speaking to CNBC, who has written about how unemployment could rise once AI is rampant in the workplace. Ghosal has spoken out in support of a universal basic income to support people who are affected by the digitization of industries such as manufacturing.
The pace of development of artificial intelligence software has “surprised” even top executives such as Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. The rapid growth of automated services and “intelligent manufacturing” has led many leading figures in the technology community like Brin to support the idea of a UBI.
At the World Government Summit held in Dubai this year, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said a UBI would be necessary. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” he said. Echoing Musk’s prediction, Marc Beioff, chief executive of Salesforce, has warned that AI could create “digital refugees”.
The technology industry is becoming more aware of its role in driving automation and job displacement, according to experts, and technology companies do not want to be the punching bag for workers who are made redundant because of technology advancement. But it is still unclear how a basic universal income could work.
There have been suggestions that every government could pay its citizens a monthly sum to get by. However, this could backfire because it would only provide a bare minimum for living, and workers would still try to seek out higher standards of living by working. Another potential avenue for a UBI is through a sovereign wealth fund, where governments would take an equity stake in all of the major publicly listed companies in the country and pay citizens money from the investments.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has floated the idea of a “robot tax” as a way for governments to generate more income for displaced workers in the future. In an interview with Quartz, Gates said, “If a human worker does $50,000 of work in a factory, that income is taxed. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”
Faced with the potential job losses automation could bring, governments are finding themselves at a tricky crossroad. On one hand, alarm bells have been sounded, warning of the potential layoffs the role of robotics could cause. But on the other hand, automation has been a major driver of efficiency in manufacturing and other complex industries.
Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States shows that manufacturing jobs increased in the country between 1994 and 2000. After that period, manufacturing jobs spiraled downwards – a loss of five million jobs in the intervening years. However, productivity during that period increased.
IDC’s ‘FutureScape: Worldwide Robotics 2017 Predictions’ report says almost one-third of robotic deployments will be smarter by 2018, capable of collaborating with other robots and working safely alongside humans. What’s more, the report predicts that by 2019, governments around the world will have drafted or implemented specific legislation for robotics and safety, security and privacy. However, the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will result in the net loss of over five million jobs across developed countries by 2020. Another study, conducted by the International Labor Organization, states that as many as 173 million workers across Southeast Asia are at risk of job displacement by robots, which are predicted to become prominent in the manufacturing of clothing.
Now that the evolution of technology is advancing at a faster rate than it ever has, governments, companies and experts are left to weigh the benefits of automation (efficiency, increased profits) against the disadvantages (mass job losses). Should jobs be sacrificed for the efficiency that technology can bring?
Apple announced its intentions to start manufacturing their products in India a number of weeks ago – and now speculation is rife that the first device it will produce in the region will be the iPhone SE. Sources have suggested the manufacturing process will take place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
The US tech giants disclosed its plans to start building phones in India by the end of April. However, there was some confusion expressed when IT Minister of the State of Karnataka, Priyank Kharge, tweeted the details of the announcement which signaled when Apple will begin operations, but then subsequently deleted it.
Reports circulating in India have indicated that Apple will produce between 300,000 and 400,000 iPhone SE units in a plant that will be handled by Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron. However, the company’s Indian director claimed that they’re unaware of any such arrangements.
Analysts believe that producing the iPhone SE could make sense for Apple – the SE will be cheaper and smaller than some of its recent flagship models. The device has a powerful A9 processor and 4-inch Retina display, and is capable of shooting 4K video with its 12 megapixel camera.
The fact that the SE may well be manufactured locally should result in significantly reducing the cost even further, thanks to tax benefits of about 12%. This should inevitable result in attracting more Indian customers to Apple’s ecosystem which includes additional services such as iTunes and Apple Music.
The US tech leaders had previously south incentives which including a tax holiday and other related exemptions in order to pave the way for its entry into the India manufacturing market. However, India’s revenue secretary said it was impossible to extend such benefits to Apple, as the country is about to implement a unified Good and Services Tax system in the forthcoming financial year.
Government officials in India have announced that US tech giants Apple will start building iPhones in the country later this year. It is believed the company’s decision to do so is in order to tap into a booming middle class while sales in China slow. The IT minister for Karnataka confirmed that Apple agreed to assemble its hugely popular iPhones in the southern state, whose capital Bangalore is recognized as India’s technology hub.
Apple did not comment on the press release issued by the Indian Minister, and the company remains a small player in India, where sales of its smartphones trail behind rivals Samsung. However, Apple CEO, Tim Cook said earlier this week that he would ‘invest significantly’ in the country which has a population of 1.25 billion people.
Minister of Information Technology and Biotechnology, Priyank Kharge said he expected Apple to begin manufacturing operations in April. He said: “We have an understanding with Apple and we expect them to start manufacturing in Karnataka by the end of April.” He added that the operation would likely produce iPhones for the domestic market.
Research conducted by Canalys has established that Apple has only 2% of the Indian market, while rivals Samsung have 23%, by pricing itself exclusively at the luxury end, Apple has distinguished its brand from Samsung, which produces both low-cost and high-end smartphones.
It emerged last year that Apple had a 48% share of the premium sector in which phones sell for $450 and above, the US tech firm also applied to open Apple Stores in India, but it was rejected because of a rule which states that foreign retailers must source 30% of its products locally.
Those rules have since been relaxed, with New Delhi allowing companies up to eight years to meeting the required sourcing demands in order to attract foreign investment in the hope to boost job creation.
It has not been disclosed whether or not the Karnataka plans would enable Apple to clear that hurdle, but some experts are suggesting that manufacturing locally would significantly reduce the company’s costs and enable to sell at lower prices.
Apple enjoyed a brilliant 2016 in India, and shipped more than two million devices to the country – and now with the plan to manufacture there it will give them greater flexibility to respond to market changes. Apple sells through third-party retailers in India, which accounts for only around 1% of global iPhones sales. However, experts insist that India’s massive population and low number of smartphones users relative to its size means it represents a huge potential market.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, visited India last year and met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and presented him with a gold iPhones to launch the premier’s new app. If the move is confirmed, many analysts see it as a coup for India’s government which has been trying to persuade foreign companies to manufacture in the country.
Reports in Indian media said Wistron Corp, a Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, was lined up to assemble iPhones at a plant on the outskirtsof tech hub Bangalore. Apple outsources all its manufacturing globally.
Indian officials have resisted advances from US technology giant Apple to move some of its production to the country – but they did state that they are in the process of reviewing its overall manufacturing policy.
According to reports, Apple sent a letter to the Indian government in which it expressed its desire to assemble iPhone devices and move production to India –and subsequently requested financial incentives from the authorities in order to do so.
However, Indian officials rejected their advances and refused to give in to Apple’s demands for special concessions. The government recently launched a ‘Made in India’ initiative in an effort to attract foreign investors.
Indian Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he and his colleagues would keep an ‘open mind’ ahead of negotiations next week with Apple executives. It is believed an official told Reuters that the government intends to make policies for the industry and not individual companies.
Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said yesterday India would keep an “open mind” in negotiations next week at a meeting with Apple executives. An official told Reuters the government should make policies for the industry, not individual companies.
The smart-phone giant sought a number of concessions, including a 15-year wavier of customs duties on imported iPhone components, and new and second-hand manufacturing equipment.
It has also been reported that three government departments, revenue, industry and IT are reviewing Apple’s requests for concessions to assemble iPhone’s in India. Officials have conceded that due to the country’s high import duties – it severely impacts the competitiveness of manufacturers looking to export.
Apple CEO Tim Cook visited India last May and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and the issued of Apple assembling iPhone’s and moving production to the country were raised.
Complicating a move to local production is the country’s local sourcing rules, which require foreign firms with single-brand retail outlets to source 30% of the sales value of their components from India within five years of starting operations.
In June 2016 the government reversed a decision not to ease local sourcing rules for Apple and granted the iPhone maker a three year waive on the requirement, which clears the way for it to open Apple Stores in the country.
The reversal is part of a major reform package of the country’s foreign direct investment policies announced by the head of the country’s central bank.
India is the world’s second largest smart-phone market, where growth outpaced the global market in Q3 as demand for mobile broadband connectivity soars and operators rapidly expand their 4G network coverage.
On September 21 it was announced that Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment maker, was planning to end its manufacturing in Sweden. This could lead to the company cutting around 3,000 jobs, according to a report by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
The newspaper article said it had obtained "confidential documents" outlining a three billion kronor (313-million-euro, $350-million) cost-cutting program following the end of Ericsson’s manufacturing in Sweden. According to Svenska Dagbladet, 60 percent of the savings were to be made in Sweden, and the remainder abroad.
The company has around 116,000 employees worldwide, including 15,000 in Sweden. The 3,000 manufacturing lay-offs would be in the company's core Networks division, the paper said. If confirmed, the lay-offs would mark the end of an era: Ericsson has had production in Sweden since 1876.
Ericsson announced back in April that it would target structural changes by expanding an existing nine billion kronor global cost and efficiency program to bolster efficiency and growth, AFP reported. The newspaper report comes after Ericsson fired chief executive, Hans Vestberg in July after seven years in the post.
Under Vestberg, Ericsson struggled to fend off competition from rivals Nokia, Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent, and to gain ground in saturated and competitive markets such as Europe and North America.