First unmanned factory under construction in Dongguan, China

6 May

The expanding needs for workers in Dongguan in China’s Guangdong Province has prompted a precision technology company to build the first unmanned factory. In the early stage, the company plans to install 1,000 mechanical arms, remotely controlled by a software system. The use of a smart control system and mechanical arms in manufacturing business can not only reduce the need for factory workers by 90 percent, but also largely increase efficiency and product quality.

The lowering number of workers in China’s southeast coast in recent years has caused problems for companies looking to fill positions. In 2014, the city of Dongguan launched a project to replace workers with robots. The government invested a fund of 600 million RMB (US$96.63 million) to help local factories transition to a robotic assembly line.

Changying Precision Technology Company, which manufactures cell phone modules, has started construction for the first unmanned factory. The factory now has 100 working mechanical arms, and another 1,000 will be installed. All mechanical arms will be remotely controlled by a software system. With the help of numerically controlled machine tools, the mechanical arms have higher efficiency and precision. After completion, the unmanned factory will reduce the need of factory workers by 90 percent. The company will have to hire only 200 workers, rather than over 2,000.

Dongguan City is currently in need of over 100,000 workers. With the project to replace workers with robots, the needs will be cut to 30,000. As far as the Guangdong Province, the government will invest 943 billion RMB for industrial technology transition from 2015-2017, to help 1,950 industrial businesses introduce mechanical arms for manufacturing.

(Original article: Lin Li; Translated by: Jamie Wang; Photo courtesy of kuka-robotics)

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