Apple learned the hard way why people are better than robots

In the past Apple has repeatedly attempted to establish automated Assembly of iPhones and MacBook, but each of them ended in failure. As it turned out, the robots were not able skillfully to handle the glue and to touch the tiny cogs as Chinese workers that always made the company to return to human labor.

About a bad experience with Apple in the automation of production lines, said The Information David Bourne – a former employee of the company Foxconn collector and long-time partner of Apple and now a scholar of the robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon.

According to Bourne, in 2012, Apple CEO Tim cook personally came to the factory, Foxconn in China to inspect an experimental platform for the Assembly of iPad. Terry GOU, head of Foxconn when the Board, assured the cook that after two years into the production cycle will be integrated with one million robots. However, his predictions did not come true: in 2019 the Foxconn factories worked not more than 100 thousand cars.

In the Apple and experimenting with robotics. In 2012, the company had established a secret laboratory near the headquarters. The engineers were tasked to reduce the amount of human labor by half, to 15 thousand workers. This idea also didn’t work: industrial robot manipulators were unable to apply the glue with the same millimeter accuracy that people, and failed to pick up tiny screws and place them over the hole at the correct angle. As a result, the laboratory was closed in 2018.

in Addition, Apple has spent millions of dollars on an unsuccessful attempt to at least partially automate the Assembly of a MacBook. In 2014, the company brought in China’s own robot, who was supposed to set the screen, keyboard and trackpad in the laptop case. However, not without problems: the constant jerking of the conveyor led to the failure of the whole mechanism, and accumulated on the tape part constantly broke.

In any case, even if mAtire has earned with each new device Apple would have to re-design automated production lines. While to retrain people faster and cheaper.

While Apple-designed robots get better only to disassemble the electronics. The most famous is garbage by the name of Liam (Liam), which was shown in 2016. The system consists of 29 robotic modules capable of holding the iPhone, quickly and accurately disassemble it into its component parts, and then sort all the details – from the buildings and the glass to chip and the mounting screws.

Text: To.Hi-tech