Foxconn announced it's adding automated inline X-ray inspection systems to its production plants to inspect solder joints and PCBs for defects. These machines will work at production line speeds, and are able to spot defects that humans might miss.
It is not known whether Foxconn was responding to new quality concerns or simply trying to improve its production processes. Based on Foxconn's recent history, there's evidence to believe that its emphasis on automation may well be connected to management's desire to combat higher labor costs. About 1.2 million people now work at Foxconn. Last summer, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the company intended to introduce more than 1 million robots into its plants, presumably to replace a yet-to-be-announced number of humans.
The idea would be that more machines translates into better efficiency. When you've got machines pumping out lots of product, you're less likely to wind up with boxes of junk that get past human eyeballs, said the source, who noted that implementation of that type of process control pays for itself.