For all the 21st century advances in high tech equipment, manufacturing techniques and robotics, Apple’s iPad and iPhone are essentially made by hand.
That was one of the insights in last night’s half-hour report by Nightline on Foxconn, the Chinese company that manufacturers the iPhone, iPad and numerous other consumer electronics.
To be sure, any number of components in Apple’s devices are produced using the latest automated manufacturing, but an interesting tidbit from Nightline’s report is the manual labor involved in producing the iPad.
The Verge highlighted several items of note in the report including that it takes 141 steps to make an iPhone and It takes five days and 325 hands to make a single iPad.
As for components, Foxconn is busy there too, making 300,000 iPad camera modules per day.
Foxconn (and Apple by association) received a spate of bad publicity in recent years after reports of employee suicides and poor working conditions surfaced. In response, Foxconn increased worker pay and made other concessions though it continues to be criticized for not doing enough by worker’s rights advocates.
Apple, under CEO Tim Cook, paid $250,000 to join the Fair Labor Association and paid for an audit of Foxconn’s working conditions. A report by AppleInsider this week notes that a watchdog group charged Foxconn hid underage workers ahead of the recent FLA audit. Apple also had earlier revealed companies providing components in its supply chain and audits that revealed instances of underage workers that it vowed to correct.
When Foxconn executive Louis Woo was asked in the Nightline report if he would be okay with Apple demanding double pay for employees he replied "Why not?"
Other tidbits in the report are that Foxconn workers pay $.70 per meal and work 12 hour shifts. Those that live in the company-run dorms sleep six to eight a room which cost them $17.50 a month each. Workers make $1.78 an hour. But as the report points out, Foxconn has no problem hiring new workers who line up by the thousands outside the company's gates hoping to be hired.