The first unmanned factory in Dongguan, a city of southeastern China's Guangdong province, lays out a vision of future manufacturing: all the processes are operated by computer-controlled robots, computer numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment. 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 are polishing the modules day and night. Each line has an automatic belt and 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, according to Luo Weiqiang, general manager of the company.
This is the first step of the "robot replace human" program. In the next two years the number of robots will be increased to 1,000 and 80 percent 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. Data shows that since the robots came to the factory, the defect rate of products has dropped from over 25 percent to less than 5 percent and the production capacity from more than 8,000 pieces per person per month increased to 21,000 pieces.
This 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" programs by 2016.
With the implementation of "Made in China 2025" strategy, a growing number of "unmanned workshops or factories" will come out.