Apple Assembly Lines May Move Toward Automated Manufacturing

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Apple switched supply chain manufacturers from Taiwan’s controversial Foxconn Technology Group facility to Pegatron, a smaller, supplier, which reportedly offered the company lowers margins on devices such as the iPhone C and iPad mini, in May 2013. As a result, the numbers suggest Apple has experienced substantial gains (22 percent).According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, “The earnings boost posted Monday accompanied strong growth of Pegatron’s revenue from smartphones and other communications products, even as its overall revenue fell from a year earlier amid sluggish sales of its core personal-computer business.” This news comes on the heels of recent talks surrounding Apple’s probable impending shift toward automated battery manufacturing.

There’s no word yet on whether or not the company will move forward with a mechanized manufacturing plan, but sources suggest automated battery production is a possibility for the upcoming iPhone 6. It is unclear if Pegatron will provide the assembly assets for this latest venture.

However, in the past, Pegatron has made it clear that it’s invested in improving labor conditions by introducing automated manufacturing processes where possible. Apple is likely interested in not only streamlining to cut costs, but also improving working environments since light was shed on Foxconn iPhone production.

In 2012, Apple experienced criticism regarding its involvement with the supply chain, Foxconn, prompting thousands of people to consider conditions in factories around the world. Early talks prompted initiatives around updating manufacturing technology. A possible push toward automated manufacturing of a single phone part may point to a trial run for future technology that could assist in assembling devices in their entirety.

Sources also suggest that, although the Pegatron/Apple relationship is still strong, Apple’s inclination for automation could indicate plans to bring its manufacturing back to the United States once the engineering is fully developed.

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