Last week, Foxconn Chairman and President Terry Gou admitted to the Asian press that the company is actively looking into the possibility of setting up factories for manufacturing high-end smartphones and tablets in the United States. Typically, manufacturing has been overseas because it's cheap, but the strengthening of the yuan, the growing wages in China, and the lack of skilled workers have put pressure on the company to look elsewhere.
Now Foxconn Technology Group announced that the company plans to spend $30 million over the next two years to expand its current office located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, including hiring on 500 new employees. The company also plans to provide $10 million to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to help in robotics research.
The IDG News Service reports that Foxconn is taking advantage of President Obama’s push to move the United States into advanced manufacturing. The report states that Foxconn's Terry Gou, who has been visiting the U.S. as part of a Taiwanese trade delegation, wants to establish a "high value" production base in the nation that will use automation.
As previously reported, Foxconn believes it can find a highly skilled workforce here in the States. Problem is, these workers will require larger wages than the over one million individuals sweating in Foxconn factories over in China. To solve this, the company may offset this expense by using highly automated production tools. Thus, the company will have the same output of its Chinese factories, but with fewer workers.
Previously the Harrisburg facility focused on research, but now there’s indication that this plant will actually begin manufacturing high-end products. These will reportedly go beyond the consumer space, and into other sectors like automotive and medical. Bringing more high-end manufacturing to America will actually lower Foxconn’s manufacturing and transportation costs, a price savings that could be seen by consumers.
The IDG News Service also reports that Foxconn is exploring the possibility of building plants in Arizona to manufacture display panels. The company is also considering “technology partnerships” in Virginia and New Jersey. There’s a good chance Foxconn could even consider North Carolina as well, as that’s where Lenovo set up shop earlier this year to manufacture notebooks and desktops.
Last year a Foxconn representative said that Americans want to see their products manufactured locally. Motorola has taken the hint, and purchased a facility in Texas to produce the current Moto X smartphone. Google plans to manufacture the Glass HMD locally next year, and Apple is trying to relocate more of its manufacturing within the United States as well.