Following up on news that Foxconn would soon be deploying robots on assembly lines dedicated to Apple products, a report out of Asia claims the so-called “Foxbots” will have a limited role when it comes to device assembly, claiming that humans are needed for more of the operations. According to industry insiders, Foxconn’s Foxbots will only assist human workers by locking down screws, polishing parts and performing other menial duties when they are finally installed on the production line according to Taiwan’s United Daily News.

The publication’s sources said workers are still required for the final assembly and quality control of various procedures, though the final robot-to-human ratio remains unclear. These people also expect Foxbots to roll out at Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou, which is responsible for manufacturing Apple’s top-tier iPhone products.

Foxconn CEO Terry Gou recently said his company’s Foxbots have reached the final stage of testing and would see deployment in at least one major factory. For its first rollout, the firm is reportedly planning to field as many as 10,000 robots at a cost of $20,000 to $25,000 each. Following the initial 10,000 unit batch, Gou said he expects Foxconn’s factories to get Foxbots at a rate of 30,000 a year.

The Zhengzhou plant supposedly his capacity in making up for low iPhone 5S supplies in November last year by churning out roughly 500,000 units per day on a 24-hour operating schedule. At the time, production of the iPhone 5S was said to require 600 workers per assembly line, compared to 500 people for the previous generation iPhone 5. If the recent report is accurate, Foxconn’s robot initiative may be a move to help accelerate iPhone build times, not replace existing employees as previously thought.

For those of you who didn’t already know, Apple is expected to release two new iPhone models with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes when the usual refresh cycle comes around in September. Bearing the same overall look, both versions are to be completely redesigned with a thinner chassis similar to that of the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. Some analysts believe Apple will attempt to differentiate the larger “phablet” variant from its smaller siblings by adding high-end features such as optimal image stabilization and more onboard storage.

Although Apple hasn’t announced the next-gen iPhone, rumors have already pegged a launch date of either September 19 or September 25. We’ll have to wait and see what turns out to be true.

Source: United Daily News