Interview with a factory worker for the new iPad: much easier than making iPhone 4S

| March 10th, 2012

From Sina:


“I thought it’s called iPad 3, we always call it that before.”  Li Qi (not his real name) looked at the news about release of the new iPad on the Internet, felt proud and somewhat worried.  As a Shenzhen Longhua Foxconn factory worker, he was involved in the production of the iPad 2 and the new iPad.

He is worried about the iPad sales, if sales do not increase, he might be sent to help the iPhone production.  He said in an interview with First Financial Daily, right before announcement of the new release, their production line can produce 150 units of the new iPad in an hour.  Currently, he takes one day off per week.  When he worked on iPhone 4S, he only took 1 to 2 days off in a month and often worked overtime until 8 pm.  Ever since March he and his workmates already took three days off.  Which he felt a little uneasy about it.

In Foxconn, Longhua site, where Li Qi worked at has the iPad assembly section and test section.  His daily job is to assemble the keys and cables into the new iPad. “Other than this level, there are several other buildings are also in production of the new iPad, workers on each level have somewhat different jobs. Some are responsible for assembling, packaging and some are responsible for the warehouse.”

“The new iPad” was in mass production starting the beginning of this year.  Initially, each assembly line took one class (of workers), that is, production of 1000 units within every 10 hours.  However after the Spring Festival production gradually increased to 150 units per hour.  Li Qi works 6 days a week and takes only one day off.  Recently he worked 80 hours of overtime each month.  His base monthly salary was already adjusted from 900 yuan to 2350 yuan, plus the overtime money, now he can get 3500 yuan after tax.

From Li Qi’s point of view, the new iPad is similar to iPad 2 which he worked on before, at least the outside look similar, but the new iPad has more powerful features and functions.  “Comparing these two generation products’ pipeline work station setup, now there are over 30 of them.  There were not that many for iPad 2.”  Typically, in each workstation one given action is performed – for example assembling particular connectors or gears.

He told the reporter, iPad production lines are strictly managed.  He has to wear anti-static clothing, and walk through security doors. Inspection procedures are more than any other division.  They are not allowed to talk during work, and definitely no slacking off.  “But compare to iPhone 4S production, it is much easier.”

In May last year, Li Qi and his workmates participated in the Conference to support iDPBG held by the Office of Human Resources.  iDPBG is the place of Apple iPhone production.  They were told, from September 13 to December 31 to help support the latest generation of Apple iPhone, which was the iPhone 4S production.  Foxconn Technology Group Vice President Zhao Shanping said on behalf of CEO Terry Guo, “Due to mass production of mobile phones, the company need to drawn from iPad production line to support it.”

Before going, Li Qi was very excited to enjoy the benefits of free accommodation and salary increase etc.  and also get to see the Apple iPhone.  “Apple iPhone was already very well-known at that time.”  This is his first time in contact with other cell phone production line other than Nokia.  He wrote in his dairy, “First time work closely on iPhone 4S, it is really the best smart phone of the world, both hardware and software are great.”

“We basically worked on Apple’s Tablet PC but never on iPhone before.  As a newbie, we learned by doing.  Already afternoon, the production line I worked at only made over 100 phones.”  After a week, Li Qi fond that the production of cell phones is much more tiring than production of Tablet PCs, the dormitory environment was also worse than before.

“Start working at 7 am, have to get up before 6 am everyday.  Not even 10 minutes of break during a day’s work, 3 hours in the morning and 4-6 hours afternoon.”  Li Qi said, at the iPad production line, there are 2 to 3 10 minute breaks other than lunch time.

Another factory worker Wang Hua (not his real name) at Guanlan district working long term on assembling iPhones told the reporter, each production line will produce more than 3500 phones in a day.  No days off at the factory plant is already the norm.

Transferred back to Longhua iPad production line, Li Qi still recalled in his memory of that period (working on iPhone 4S) as “extremely hard.”  However, he also made the highest wage ever since he worked at Foxconn in the past two years – 5000 yuan after tax.  Considering Li had just bought a house in his hometown in Hubei, it is actually quite a gratifying thing.

Li Qi does not want his life to change too much.  According to his observation, in recent weeks, another 100 workers left the Shenzhen iPad production line, going to Chengdu factory district.  “This is a signal, if we continue to take days off, our division will for sure be transferred to other departments or leave Shenzhen.”  This is obviously not something he can control.


23 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Curren$y says:

    I only got one kIdney left fuck how would I get the new iPad nowwwww???

  2. voiceofhomer says:

    Traders on the Hong Kong stock exchange will see their lunch break trimmed from 90 minutes to an hour from Monday.

    The move has been fiercely resisted by some local stockbrokers, they have organised a number of last-ditch protests in recent weeks.

    In Asia, Tokyo shortened its midday halt to one hour last year, while Singapore recently scrapped its lunch break altogether, joining Australia, South Korea and India on the list of exchanges that have uninterrupted trading days.

    Why China slaves complaining about working so hard, don’t they know Amerikan slaves and illegals are trying to take their jobs away and bring it back to the USA.

    • Stacy says:

      I don’t know what your background is, but the people on Wall Street, some work 140 hours in a week! Yet you’re complaining that Americans try to take back their jobs, while you protest longer work hours? Are you kidding me? Do you know what you should do to get the jobs? GET BACK TO WORK! It’s Capitalism, not charity. If you want free sh*t, go to Europe.

      • Z 5300 says:

        You never went to Europe, have you ? Otherwise you wouldn’t write that shite. Nothing is free wherever you are.

  3. The Foxconn/Apple saga that has been played out in Western media in the last few months is something of a watershed moment in how westerners view the economics of the gadgets they buy.

    People are now much more aware of the effect of the low priced gadgets that they buy. They all want low price items and have been happy to let American and European jobs go overseas to give them that. But now they have to also contend with the human suffering that can go hand in hand with it.

    It could have the same effect that the ‘Nike trainer sweatshops’ had. People will be less willing to buy ‘sweatshop electronics’.

    • Huzhang says:

      BS. The consumer always denigrates to the lower price. iPads could be made by the devil himself and people would still buy it if it was cheaper. The whole Foxconn/Apple thing is really no different than any kind of cheap labor in China or anywhere else, it just gets more attention because Apple has some retarded cult following.

  4. voiceofhomer says:

    Apple’s clout is coming under scrutiny as the U.S. Justice Department considers filing a lawsuit against the company and five U.S. publishers for an alleged scheme that has driven up the prices of electronic books since the 2010 release of the iPad.

    “To attract antitrust attention, you have to be more than just big. You have to be big and bad,” Sokol says. “It was only 2007 when Apple released the iPhone, and only 2010 when it released the iPad. The company hasn’t had that long to be bad yet, if it is indeed bad.”

    Bad bad bad company, Chinese are bad and they belong to each other.

  5. click says:

    Trust me, China knows better.

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