updated 09:41 am EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Mac Pro, iMac lines said to be mostly automated
Apple is working to get iPhone batteries manufactured on fully automated production lines in 2014, supply chain sources claim. The company is already said to have mostly automated iMac and Mac Pro production, the only exceptions being materials and final assembly. Apple is allegedly interested in reducing the manpower needed for its products; this may be due to rising minimum wages in China, and problems like labor shortages and high turnover rates, linked to the fact that many young people don't want to work in manufacturing. Such jobs can often demand 60 or more hours a week in poor conditions.
The sources comment that although automation could allow Apple to move manufacturing wherever it wants, most of its component suppliers are still in and around China, which may keep it tethered to the region. At the moment, the only Apple product manufactured in the US is the Mac Pro, which is assembled in Austin, Texas.