China sets up first unmanned factory

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Beijing, July 27: A Chinese firm specialising in precision technology has set up the first unmanned factory at Dongguan city where all the processes are operated by robots, regarded as futuristic solution to tide over China's looming demographic crisis and dependence on manual workers.

In the plant, all the processes are operated by computer-controlled robots, computer numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment.

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The technical staff just sits at the computer and monitors through a central control system. At the workshop of Changying Precision Technology Company in Dongguan, known as the "world factory", which manufactures cell phone modules, 60 robot arms at 10 production lines polish the modules day and night, state-run People's Daily reported.

Each line has an automatic belt with just three workers who are just responsible for checking lines and monitoring. A few months ago, it required 650 workers to finish this process.

A robot arm can replace six to eight workers, now there are 60 workers and the number will be reduced to 20 in the future, Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company told the Daily.

This is the first step of the "robot replace human" programme, it said. In the next two years, the number of robots will be increased to 1,000 and 80 per cent process will be conducted by robots, said Chen Qixing, president of the company.

Compared with many skilled workers, these robots are new hands. But they made far more and better products than well- trained workers and experts, the report said.

With nearly 200 million people above 60 years and old age population set to rise sharply, China is bracing to face demographic crisis in the near future as it will have fewer work force.

Data at the Dongguan factory show that since the robots came to the plant the defect rate of products has dropped from over 25 per cent to less than 5 per cent and the production capacity from more than 8,000 pieces per person per month increased to 21,000 pieces.

The company is only a microcosm of Dongguan, one of the manufacturing hubs in China. The city plans to finish 1,000 to 1,500 "robot replace human" programmes by 2016.

With the implementation of "Made in China 2025" strategy, a growing number of "unmanned workshops or factories" will come out, the report said.

PTI

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