Terry Gou steers Foxconn towards an Industry 4.0 future

By Glen White
Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry has vowed to move towards integrating innovation design manufacturing (IIDM) from the original equipme...

Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry has vowed to move towards integrating innovation design manufacturing (IIDM) from the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) model, stating that the robot industry will eventually surpass the auto industry.

Since 2014, Hon Hai, trading as Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest electronics contractor manufacturer, has decided to focus on the development of Industry 4.0 following a trend started by Germany.

Hon Hai's transformation has won the recognition of the outside world, having attracted world-class enterprises, including Nokia, seeking cooperation.

Gou said Hon Hai has been in close cooperation with Nokia, saying Nokia's N1, which won the 2014 best Android tablet PC award last year, was the result of bilateral cooperation, in which Nokia is in charge of brand and core telecom technologies while Hon Hai takes care of the rest, including the Internet of Things (IoT), patents, and next-generation wireless technology. This proves that Hon Hai is moving towards the IIDM model.

Hon Hai's Industry 4.0 will focus on integrating cloud computing, mobile devices, big data, smart living, smart work networks and robots, Gou said. He sees a sound outlook in developing robots, saying the robot industry will definitely become bigger than the auto industry in the future.

Hon Hai's developing robots aims to use them to help its workers and facilitate the production process, as the products have become more precise, with human power alone being difficult to complete all the processes. As Hon Hai employs more than one million workers globally, reaching the company goal of a 70 percent automated workforce will take at least three more years, he said.

Facing a transformation period, Hon Hai must increase investments to upgrade its competitiveness, Gou added, pledging to invest an additional NT$70-$80 billion (US$2.2-2.5 billion) in Kaohsiung's flat panel factory. It also plans to set up an 18-story research and development center in New Taipei City's Tucheng district.

Hon Hai will continue to invest in the telecom industry, pledging to join in the bidding for the fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology if Taiwan opens such bidding for the next generation technology.

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