China: Factory replaces workers demanding higher wages with robots to cut costs

Factory replaces workers demanding higher wages with robots to cut costs

The company has overhauled their workforce with automated machinery producing record units

BY KIRSTIE MCCRUM 13:58, 12 SEP 2016 UPDATED 14:01, 12 SEP 2016

Robots are being brought in to replace human workers in China because people are seeking higher wages.

This footage shows the production line in a factory which produces lenses for the German company Carl Zeiss.

The automated tasks being practised by the robotic workers include applying protection films, cutting, polishing and packaging.

Although the roles used to be performed by human beings, reports CCTV News, the change came as the manager of the plant in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

Zeng Zhiyong, Carl Zeiss Vision Technologies (Guangzhou) Ltd explains: "In 2012, the Zeiss Group informed us that labour in China was twice as expensive as in Mexico and four times that in India.

The cost per lens has dropped significantly since the new measures were introduced

"We were very surprised at this huge gap and started to think of how to improve productivity."

The installation of machines to carry out the tasks has seen the workforce shrink from 440 workers - who were producing four million lenses every year - to 370 humans in 2015 - with output increased to five million.

Zeng adds that their current cost per lens is the lowest of all the Zeiss factories in the world.

Zhiyong says that they were told their overheads were steep in 2012

Other factories including the Rongxin Packaging Corporation have made the switch, where Ji Yonghong explains they bought in a new $34 million - around £25.6 million - production line in 2013 and are now producing 1.8 million cans daily.

"We used to have 60 workers in one shift but now we only need 48. And they’re only responsible for quality control and machine maintenance," Ji says.

The machines are able to apply protection films, cut, polish and package

He adds that the complex processes mean better educated workers are required, and as a result earn 10-20% more than average.


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