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Foxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All

Lauly Li, Cheng Ting-Fang, and Gen Nakamura report Foxconn opts to make smaller displays at Wisconsin plant:

OSAKA/TAIPEI — Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn Technology Group, is considering producing small to midsized displays for Apple, automakers and others at its $10 billion factory planned for the U.S. state of Wisconsin, people familiar with the matter said.

Foxconn’s shift to making diversified displays for cars, personal computers, tablets, mobile devices, televisions and niche products represents a change from its previous plan to churn out large panels, mainly for TVs, at the new plant. Production of large panels would have required a more complete local supply chain and greater initial investment in equipment.

Not so high-tech after all:

“Previously, Foxconn planned to build a 10.5th-generation display manufacturing factory, which is more suitable for large-sized displays,” supply chain sources told Nikkei.

“But later they figured out that it might be more feasible and efficient to build a sixth-generation display plant or an 8.5th-generation factory from which they could move some equipment from Asia.”

Sixth-generation panel plants mainly turn out smaller screens for mobile phones, tablets, notebooks and wearable devices, while 8.5th-generation factories are optimal for making displays for tablets, notebooks, monitors and TVs. Both could make some niche products for medical or automotive use.

Whitewater’s local business league invited a state operative to tout this multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-subsidized project only about three months ago, and already Foxconn is scaling the technology level backSee  A Sham News Story on Foxconn.  (Such is the risk of press releases as policy – speculative claims don’t have a great shelf life.)

Someone will now have to ask the Daily Union‘s Welch to type up a fresh set of ludicrous claims from a political operative about the project.

(By the way, credit to Joe, commenting here @ FREE WHITEWATER, for remarking on the technological limitations the plant faces well before today’s Nikkei Asian Review story.)

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair Budget, and The Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the Trough, and Even Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) Workforce.

2 comments for “Foxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All

  1. Joe
    05/24/2018 at 8:06 AM

    Did you notice the write-up about Foxconn in the Cap Times yesterday?

    http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/election-matters/foxconn-refutes-report-that-it-will-cut-back-initial-investment/article_2f0886aa-87eb-588b-9635-c07172b7b0e1.html

    The nugget in the piece is that Foxconn doesn’t know where to get glass for their displays. Corning will be happy to build a glass plant for Foxconn, as long as the state gives them 2/3 of the cost of building the plant. I imagine, although they deny it, that WEDC will eventually comply, to protect their already eye-popping investment in Foxconn.

    The fetid reek in the air that you may be noticing is the smell of a classic oh-by-the-way bait-and-switch move being thrown by Foxconn. It is absolutely inconceivable that, in the process of designing a $10B manufacturing facility, somebody at Foxconn didn’t ponder to themselves “Gee, where are we going to get glass?” Stropping the mighty razor of Occam leads me to the conclusion that Foxconn just forgot to mention it, and WEDC was too effing stupid to ask the question: “You guys got your supply chain shit together??” This is not the first time that WEDC has been blinded by the light. It’s their standard procedure.

    Glass is the biggest deal in making displays. Foxconn will use acres of glass per hour. It won’t be glass from the local beer-bottle factory either. There is no existing precision glass-making infrastructure in SE Wisco-World, although there are plenty of beer-bottle makers. I’m amazed that Foxconn is not planning on making their own glass. That they do not appear to have had a glass-source nailed down in the planning stages of their mega-campus is not a sign of sentient project management.

    Maybe I’m being too hard on WEDC. They are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is transferring public money to private hands in the furtherance of Walker’s political future.

    • JOHN ADAMS
      05/24/2018 at 9:07 AM

      I’d not seen this article, and thanks much for the pointer. Really a solid summary of the unfolding, mendacious mess that this project is.

      More than funny that Foxconn’s efforts to defend the project after these latest revelations amount to promises of “up to” a certain number of jobs. I’m thinking, one of these days, that I might ride “up to” the level of a Tour de France competitor.

      Key point, of course: if the product mix changes, and the investment and jobs estimates don’t, then there’s a problem with the estimates (someone can’t calculate or won’t revise) or with the new product mix (it’s targeted to a false metric rather than actual need).