China’s manufacturing sector is rapidly embracing zero-labor factories, as is evident from recent developments in the country. A case in point is the commencement of the construction of a new factory that carries out manufacturing operations using only robots, according to a report by the Xinhua news agency. With construction underway, the factory in China will deploy about 1,000 robots initially, scaling up as demand rises. The factory in question belongs to Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co.
As part of these ambitious plans, the company aims to bring down its current labor force by at least 90%. According to reports, the company currently employs 1,800 workers and with the planned cutback in manpower, it aims to ultimately retain only about 200 workers in a few months. This information was provided by the company board’s chairman, Chen Xingqi.
While the company did not clearly state the amount being invested in the facility, it did confirm that the production capacity targets were pegged at approximately US$322 million per year.
The trend of robot-operated factories is catching on in other industrial and manufacturing hubs of China, with the Pearl River Delta being an example of the shift. The Pearl River Delta, located in the southern part of China, has earned the sobriquet of the ‘world’s workshop’ thanks to the sheer numbers of export manufacturing facilities here.
Manufacturing has long been the backbone of the Chinese economy, but as labor shortages weigh on the industry, local authorities are increasingly faced with the need to catalyze innovation so as to mitigate the impact of the economic slowdown.
According to the Economy and Information Technology Bureau of Dongguan, an estimated 505 factories in the region have collectively pumped in 4.2 billion yuan for deploying robots since September 2014. This shift will see about 30,000 workers being replaced by robots.
It is also projected that by 2016, at least 1,500 industrial enterprises in the city will substitute human labor with robots.