Seen on ZME Science: The Guangdong Province, particularly the area surrounding Shenzhen, is known as the “world’s workshop," for obvious reasons. This is where most of the world’s consumer goods and electronics are manufactured, employing millions. It all started when Deng Xiao Ping transformed Shenzhen, a small fishing village in 1979, into a reduced tax area, which made foreign investors flock attracted by the cheap labour. To this day, in Shenzhen you don’t have to pay VAT at export, contrary to Shanghai.
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Vision Systems Design's take:
Turning to robots, Everwin Precision Technology, a Shenzhen-based electronics processing company, recently eliminated the jobs of 90% of its employees, going from about 650 to 60 employees, who are mostly engineers and accountants that oversee the production lines. This number is expected to go down to about 20, according to the company. The new factory automation robots produce almost three times as many pieces as were produced before, with the product defect rate improving to below 5% from 25%.
This bit of news out of China brings the idea of “robot replacements” into the spotlight. Last year, David Hummels, a professor of economics at Purdue University, suggested that a person’s ability to respond to visual and aural cues from other people should prevent robots from ever really taking a “big bite out of employment.” Overall, in terms of a “big bite,” Hummels may be right, but there is no denying that employees at large manufacturing plants who work on production lines may feel a bit of trepidation when it comes to the use of robotics.
- James Carroll, Vision Systems Design Senior Web Editor