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View Full Version : Foxconn Reportedly Increasing Quality Control with X-ray Imaging




MacRumors
Mar 5, 2012, 12:55 PM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2012/03/05/foxconn-reportedly-increasing-quality-control-with-x-ray-imaging/)


CNET reports (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57390472-37/ipad-maker-foxconn-turns-to-x-ray-inspections-to-cut-defects/) that Foxconn, Apple's primary manufacturing partner for iOS devices, has recently begun adding in-line x-ray imaging machines to its production lines, seeking to improve quality control while also seeking to increase automation.Foxconn Technology, which has about 1.2 million employees working at its myriad factories in China, has begun adding automated inline X-ray inspection systems to its plants, according to a source with first-hand knowledge of the change. With inline X-ray machines using software algorithms to inspect solder joints or printed circuit boards at production line speeds, a company is able to spot defects that humans might miss before the pieces get tucked into packages for resale.The report points to Foxconn's announcement (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/31/foxconn-to-replace-a-portion-of-its-workers-with-1-million-robots/) last year that it intends to add one million robots to its production facilities in an effort to increase efficiency and address rising labor costs. Foxconn has come under fire for its treatment of workers at its facilities, and recent wage hikes (http://www.macrumors.com/2012/02/17/foxconn-again-raises-wages-for-entry-level-workers/) combined with other expenses associated with meeting labor standards and Apple's continued growth may be tipping the economic balance for Foxconn toward more automation.

http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2012/03/foxconn_iphone_girl.jpg


Today's report does not specifically state that the x-ray machines are being used on production lines dedicated to Apple products, but with Apple being the manufacturer's largest and highest-profile customer it seems likely that the iPhone and iPad are part of its automation plans.

Article Link: Foxconn Reportedly Increasing Quality Control with X-ray Imaging (http://www.macrumors.com/2012/03/05/foxconn-reportedly-increasing-quality-control-with-x-ray-imaging/)



Apple Key
Mar 5, 2012, 12:56 PM
I'm all for increases in quality control, just as long as the x-rays don't affect the employees. I hope they don't.

wikus
Mar 5, 2012, 01:02 PM
That peace sign pose is so predictable.

jonnysods
Mar 5, 2012, 01:03 PM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

In unrelated news, every employee in Foxconn dies of cancer.

Battlefield Fan
Mar 5, 2012, 01:03 PM
Every new iPad includes a nice dose of radiation now!

Schmitty11
Mar 5, 2012, 01:11 PM
The ipad 3. Side effects include: Cancer. If you see experience these effects, please consult your doctor immediately

GenesisST
Mar 5, 2012, 01:21 PM
Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Mobile/9A405)

In unrelated news, every employee in Foxconn dies of cancer.

That's not it... For every returned iPad or iPhone, the QA specialist get his balls (or her husband's) x-rayed...

Cheaper than to build a machine to actually do this...

(Note: this is humor... I feel I have to point it out these days)

NAG
Mar 5, 2012, 01:26 PM
I'm having a hard time believing that these machines will be properly maintained. (And no, this won't make your iPad radioactive. :p )

afin
Mar 5, 2012, 01:40 PM
I think everyone who talks about cancer from the x-rays is forgetting that china has no shortage of cheap lead... I'm sure they've shielded things properly.

CmdrLaForge
Mar 5, 2012, 01:42 PM
This can only be reported by someone as news who has actually absolutely no idea and know-how on manufacturing.

You could report as well the solder is used on PCBA during SMT.

Michaelgtrusa
Mar 5, 2012, 01:43 PM
This means no more yellow tint? What about no more fines for taking breaks?

baryon
Mar 5, 2012, 02:01 PM
This sounds like a good thing, unless is dangerous to anyone's health, and unless it makes people redundant.

But there's a big ethical question that I can't figure out:

If robots eventually end up being able to do everything a person can do on the assembly line, what would be better: if Foxconn (or any factory) replaced all their workers - other than the top-level engineers - by machines, thereby eliminating harsh working conditions but also making lots of people unemployed, or if they continued to employ people to do jobs that a machine could do, just to keep people employed?

Laird Knox
Mar 5, 2012, 02:07 PM
(Note: this is humor... I feel I have to point it out these days)

You probably need to point it out because it wasn't humorous. ;)

GenesisST
Mar 5, 2012, 02:14 PM
You probably need to point it out because it wasn't humorous. ;)

Touché!

But seriously, in the last few weeks, I've gotten comments from people that didn't get it was a joke or sarcasm. Whether it is funny or not, that's another discussion!

IzzyJG99
Mar 5, 2012, 02:50 PM
FoxConn....giving child workers cancer by the dozens each day.™

dBeats
Mar 5, 2012, 02:50 PM
Smile, you'll be sterile in a few months time!

theheadguy
Mar 5, 2012, 03:13 PM
Am I the only one here who is disappointed that this girl's image is used over and over for commercial gain? Although I can see people firing back now with, "I'm sure she'd love it" or "you should be glad MR helped make her famous." I can't help but think it's not fair to her. She's not being compensated by for-profit sites generating ad revenue while repeatedly exploiting her as the face of Foxconn.

fabian9
Mar 5, 2012, 03:14 PM
This means no more yellow tint?

X-Rays in electronics manufacturing is usually used for spotting voids in soldered joints.

Similar to bone fracture x-rays, small voids and cracks show up in black. Continuous metal shows up as white, that way it's easy to see any flaws in solder joints.

righteye
Mar 5, 2012, 03:14 PM
This sounds like a good thing, unless is dangerous to anyone's health, and unless it makes people redundant.

But there's a big ethical question that I can't figure out:

If robots eventually end up being able to do everything a person can do on the assembly line, what would be better: if Foxconn (or any factory) replaced all their workers - other than the top-level engineers - by machines, thereby eliminating harsh working conditions but also making lots of people unemployed, or if they continued to employ people to do jobs that a machine could do, just to keep people employed?

Probably cheaper to use Hubots than Robots!

ironpony
Mar 5, 2012, 03:40 PM
So if they replace half the workforce with robots and the unemployment rate rises will China blame the rate rise on people being lazy and not looking for jobs.

I notice here in the US companies have become very lean and efficient with minimal work force using cross training and requiring more from current staff as opposed to hiring.
Then call the unemployed just lazy. When peoples jobs are on the line they will quickly learn to take on more responsibilities therefore soaking up the jobs that people have been laid off from.

Sorry this may be off subject.
I am in the market for robots.

gnasher729
Mar 5, 2012, 04:27 PM
I'm having a hard time believing that these machines will be properly maintained. (And no, this won't make your iPad radioactive. :p )

I'm having a hard time believing that a company would buy expensive x-ray machines and destroy their usefulness by avoiding proper maintenance.

Macdude2010
Mar 5, 2012, 04:33 PM
As long as this has no effect on the employees, I'm excited for the QC addition, my iPhone and iPad has had to be replaced due to manufacturing defects

Adidas Addict
Mar 5, 2012, 04:36 PM
I'm having a hard time believing that these machines will be properly maintained. (And no, this won't make your iPad radioactive. :p )

Why, it's one of the real high tech factories that runs uber efficiently?

NAG
Mar 5, 2012, 07:18 PM
I'm having a hard time believing that a company would buy expensive x-ray machines and destroy their usefulness by avoiding proper maintenance.

coughTSAcough

Analog Kid
Mar 5, 2012, 07:21 PM
I'm surprised they're just adding this now... I thought x-ray was standard practice for PCBs. Maybe the difference is the "inline" part-- this is going to run on every unit where it was only spot checked before?

lexworth
Mar 5, 2012, 08:18 PM
x-rays give off radiation, and repetitive can kill you. I'm a 27 year cancer survivor and now I'm suffering from the late effects of Radiation exposure. MRI is the only scanning aloud.

Schmitty11
Mar 5, 2012, 10:55 PM
So much negativity

SandynJosh
Mar 5, 2012, 11:41 PM
I got the "skinny" on the x-ray equipment right here! :)

gnasher729
Mar 6, 2012, 03:10 AM
coughTSAcough

TSA is not a company. It is a government agency, whose importance is measured by the money they are spending, and the illusion of security they produce. You don't need a well-working x-ray machine for the illusion of security. And replacing a badly maintained machine after a year instead of using a well-maintained machine for five years produces more spending which increases the perceived importance of the agency, and creates more illusion of security.

kdarling
Mar 6, 2012, 07:01 AM
This can only be reported by someone as news who has actually absolutely no idea and know-how on manufacturing.

You could report as well the solder is used on PCBA during SMT.

True, modern plants have used X-ray inspection for decades. And assembly would be done by robots instead of by hundreds of hands.

So it is news that Foxconn will finally bring its plant up to present day standards in one area. (With robot assembly planned as well.)

Or... perhaps it should've been news that they didn't have X-ray inspection machines before now. The news should've been:

"Previously crude inspection techniques allowed questionable circuit boards to be sold in consumer devices. In return for increased profits for the seller, customers were forced to be testers and spend their own time and money returning bad items for replacement."

BobbyRond
Mar 6, 2012, 07:02 AM
This sounds like a good thing, unless is dangerous to anyone's health, and unless it makes people redundant.

But there's a big ethical question that I can't figure out:

If robots eventually end up being able to do everything a person can do on the assembly line, what would be better: if Foxconn (or any factory) replaced all their workers - other than the top-level engineers - by machines, thereby eliminating harsh working conditions but also making lots of people unemployed, or if they continued to employ people to do jobs that a machine could do, just to keep people employed?

I think the reason machines will be added is to up the production rate. Foxconn can do two things (and they probably do both):
- Employ more workers and expand the factory floor
- Make every worker more efficient by giving them the equipment they need to improve their output rate.

Thus creating more iPhones, iPods, iPads to be able to supply the ever-growing demand.

Thunderbird
Mar 6, 2012, 07:20 AM
I think the reason machines will be added is to up the production rate. Foxconn can do two things (and they probably do both):
- Employ more workers and expand the factory floor
- Make every worker more efficient by giving them the equipment they need to improve their output rate.
.

You forgot the part where it says Foxconn is going to use robots to "address the rising cost of labor". Doesn't sound like they are going to do much expanding of the workforce.

So they give their workers a raise, then turn around and install robots because of high labor costs.

I wonder if any robots will attempt suicide.

NAG
Mar 6, 2012, 07:43 AM
TSA is not a company. It is a government agency, whose importance is measured by the money they are spending, and the illusion of security they produce. You don't need a well-working x-ray machine for the illusion of security. And replacing a badly maintained machine after a year instead of using a well-maintained machine for five years produces more spending which increases the perceived importance of the agency, and creates more illusion of security.

Again, you're confusing what I said with the implication machine not working at all. And again, that is wrong. You can end up with a machine that works but is still damaged the to point of being hazardous. Even though things are getting better I still do not believe safety is a priority due to the fact that it would unfortunately put them at a competitive disadvantage. At this point, employee well being is just as much theater as the example you described in many places. And before you lump me into a group, no I don't think this is Apple's fault to the point of writing or even signing one of those self-righteous petitions. But I'm not going to happily believe that everything is just great either.

JHankwitz
Mar 6, 2012, 08:30 AM
This sounds like a good thing, unless is dangerous to anyone's health, and unless it makes people redundant.

But there's a big ethical question that I can't figure out:

If robots eventually end up being able to do everything a person can do on the assembly line, what would be better: if Foxconn (or any factory) replaced all their workers - other than the top-level engineers - by machines, thereby eliminating harsh working conditions but also making lots of people unemployed, or if they continued to employ people to do jobs that a machine could do, just to keep people employed?

Robots do not reduce headcount! Every robot needs a competent highly educated and trained staff to create, manage, and maintain it. The advantage of robots is that they operate with considerably less variation in what they produce compared to a human, resulting in less rework and scrap, which may or may not save money in the long run. Robots create more jobs for people with higher skills than they eliminate people with lower skills.

iSayuSay
Mar 6, 2012, 09:36 AM
So .....
http://cdn.macrumors.com/article-new/2012/03/foxconn_iphone_girl.jpghttp://i990.photobucket.com/albums/af29/cbobbyclarke16/yournumber.jpg

blow45
Mar 6, 2012, 09:40 AM
Foxconn employes have a choice of poisons to pick, toxics, repeated strain injuries, slave working hours and now, introducing, cancer. Who said apple isn't about choice? And all that just for younger and older brats to play around with their itoys...

Yvan256
Mar 6, 2012, 12:04 PM
If it's all going to be automated anyway, couldn't Foxconn build factories in the USA, Mexico or Canada?

CmdrLaForge
Mar 6, 2012, 03:40 PM
True, modern plants have used X-ray inspection for decades. And assembly would be done by robots instead of by hundreds of hands.

So it is news that Foxconn will finally bring its plant up to present day standards in one area. (With robot assembly planned as well.)

Or... perhaps it should've been news that they didn't have X-ray inspection machines before now. The news should've been:

"Previously crude inspection techniques allowed questionable circuit boards to be sold in consumer devices. In return for increased profits for the seller, customers were forced to be testers and spend their own time and money returning bad items for replacement."

To be honest - I cannot imagine that they didn't do x-ray and ICT so far. I don't believe it. If that would be true then yes this would be the real news.

hchung
Mar 6, 2012, 03:54 PM
Robots do not reduce headcount! Every robot needs a competent highly educated and trained staff to create, manage, and maintain it. The advantage of robots is that they operate with considerably less variation in what they produce compared to a human, resulting in less rework and scrap, which may or may not save money in the long run. Robots create more jobs for people with higher skills than they eliminate people with lower skills.

Wishful thinking.

If it was really worth it to install a robot, then the robot almost always reduces headcount.
In addition to that, the person who the robot replaced will not be the one servicing the robot.

Example:
At an auto plant, you have people installing parts. Either you have robots assisting (basically being a powered arm to assist you in holding up that large metal panel) a person, or you have the robot entirely doing the install itself.
1) If it's assisting, then the person can do installs faster and with less effort. Unless you're expanding the line for higher volume, you've just reduced the number of people you need for a given production volume. Meaning, somebody else got let go.
2) If it's doing the install, then that's obviously a lost job since somebody used to do that job.

Example:
US Postal Service used to sort mail by hand. In the 1980s, people would see a piece of mail come in front of them, and they they'd have to key in the zip code. This is how they used to sort.

A neural net-based recognition system was developed to make this job automated. All those jobs were eliminated except for a tiny percentage (in order to handle the mail where the label was just too damn illegible.)
Most of the workers got let go. The remaining were put onto other jobs that were growing in demand.

Laird Knox
Mar 6, 2012, 04:02 PM
You probably need to point it out because it wasn't humorous. ;)

Touché!

But seriously, in the last few weeks, I've gotten comments from people that didn't get it was a joke or sarcasm. Whether it is funny or not, that's another discussion!

Yeah people are generally pretty uptight.

If you can't laugh at yourself then you need to relax. :)

gnasher729
Mar 6, 2012, 05:53 PM
Again, you're confusing what I said with the implication machine not working at all. And again, that is wrong. You can end up with a machine that works but is still damaged the to point of being hazardous. Even though things are getting better I still do not believe safety is a priority due to the fact that it would unfortunately put them at a competitive disadvantage. At this point, employee well being is just as much theater as the example you described in many places. And before you lump me into a group, no I don't think this is Apple's fault to the point of writing or even signing one of those self-righteous petitions. But I'm not going to happily believe that everything is just great either.

So what you are saying is that they will do maintenance on these machines to keep them working, but tell the maintenance people that they mustn't look for any faults that would endanger the safety of employees? I wonder how ideologically fixated on imagined evils you have to be to have that kind of mental attitude.