By Kevin Meyer
Another day, another company forgetting that there's a value-adding brain attached to the pair of hands that supposedly costs so much. The difference this time is that the company is in China.
Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday.
Foxconn, the world's largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions.
The company currently employs 1.2 million people, with about 1 million of them based on the Chinese mainland.
Now perhaps you can understand but not forgive this particular company for not understanding the power of creativity and experience generating improvement ideas. That would require some minimal level of respect for people, the second pillar of lean, in the first place. When company employees have a habit of jumping off of tall buildings that respect probably doesn't exist.
Over the past several years we've told you about many companies in supposedly "high cost" areas like the U.S. and Japan that can out-compete "low labor cost" rivals not with robotics but with ideas.
When was the last time you saw a robot submit an improvement idea?