Foxconn Faces Challenges in Boosting Automation

Apple Inc. supplier Hon Hai Precision Co. has declared plans to install robotic arms at its factories dotted across China to boost efficiency and address labor unrest. But its bid to automate swaths of the production process in the coming decade is facing major obstacles, including high costs and rapid changes in technology.

Taiwan-based Hon Hai’s woes with its 1.5 million workers in China have run the gamut from underage workers and employee suicides to a full-blown riot at one plant in September. Foxconn, the trade name for Hon Hai, has also built new factories in inland China over the past decade and has occasionally faced difficulties attracting enough labor for the plants.

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