By Tadashi Ushiroda
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Automated Mass Manufacturing

Foxconn has recently announced that they will be deploying a million robots to bolster their manufacturing capabilities over the next three years. This implies that the economics for replacing humans with robotics is becoming increasingly favorable and that they can be used for a wider range of tasks.

A quick look at the advanced state of robotics shows that most functions performed by hand can be replicated by machines. Robotics also has several advantages over their human counterparts such as no training costs and continuous operation.

If these robots gained the ability to move around on their own then it opens up the potential to have a fully automated mass manufacturing operation. For example a company could have a factory that could completely reconfigure itself to mass manufacture any product in a few hours. The robots could also be algorithmically driven to optimally position themselves for mass production. Best practices could be instantly be deployed through over the air software updates. These automated mass manufacturing plants would be highly efficient because a company could sell unused capacity to mass manufacture products for other companies with smaller needs.

On the downside, the increased automation of manufacturing most likely means that even highly skilled manufacturing work will eventually be performed by robots while reducing the jobs available for people.

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