Apple’s revolutionary move into robotic manufacturing — from

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Apple (AAPL) is about to become one of the world’s biggest buyers of industrial robots. The company has announced a 78% increase in its non-retail capital expenditure to $7.1bn. Analysts in Asia and America believe that the size of Apple’s robot purchases could tie up the market for several years, making it difficult for companies such as Samsung (SSNLF.PK), Nokia (NOK) and HTC (HTCXF.PK) to compete.

Up to 700,000 people are employed in China, making products like the iPhone and iPad for Apple. It takes 141 steps to make an iPhone and each iPad will, over the course of the 5 days that it takes to build it, pass through 325 pairs of hands. Although labor only represents about 3% of the cost of building these products for Apple, the wages of Chinese factory workers have been rising at about 15% a year for much of the last decade. Problems managing this workforce have also harmed Apple’s image in a region that has become the most important engine of its growth.

Apple’s move represents an important step in the use of robots in manufacturing. Robots have long been used to build cars, but not so widely used in consumer electronics because these products are more difficult to make.

From DSC:
Some questions that come to my mind:

  • What happens to jobs in this new environment?
  • What needs to happen to people in this new workplace/environment?
  • How do we educate and train students to enter this ever-changing workplace?
  • How can we make STEM-related subjects more approachable and less “weeder” like?