SRI CITY (ANDHRA PRADESH) :
The moment you enter a production line at Foxconn’s 30-acre manufacturing facility dedicated to Chinese conglomerate Xiaomi at Sri City in Chittoor of Andhra Pradesh, you encounter a world without men.
All the operators here are women — belonging to humble backgrounds who participate in a brief training period and start producing the very device that no one seems to get enough of — the smartphone.
If you do quality check at the raw material warehouse, you could find others checking the components and then putting those in a frame or panel as per the guidelines defined by Xiaomi.
In one room, a batch of fresh recruits would undergo training.
Immediately after completing the process successfully, they are employed in the packing and assembly line cells.
Within the assembly line, they are rotated every three months so that monotony does not set in and they also learn all aspects of their work. Following this, some of them are moved to critical units where the work is a little more complicated.
The minimum requirement for entering the workforce is 10th pass and during the training, the instructions are provided in three languages — Telugu, Tamil and Odiya.
For Foxconn’s India head, Josh Foulger, these women are time travellers.
“We talk about these ladies sometimes being time travellers. They get up in a house with no running waters and live in huts that are something like 300-400-year-old habitation. They get into a bus that is decent but runs on 40-50 year-old technology and come to a factory which is very much 21st century. Everyday, these time travellers come face to face with most-advanced technologies. They are trained in applying these technologies and produce world-class products,” Foulger explained.
For those who come from distant areas, Foxconn has now built dormitories so that they do not have to spend a lot of time travelling. This also helps the facility run round the clock. The night shifts are also done by women that required the Taiwanese contract manufacturer put in extra safety and security measures. “That’s okay with us,” said Foulger, who stressed that the original idea of running the factory by women was floated by his schoolteacher mother.
“The social implications of employing women is more than what I imagined,” he said, adding that most of employees at the factory come from Andhra Pradesh.
In the five years of its operations at Sri City, Foxconn never had the problem of shortage of women workers.
“One of the things we have learnt along the way with team Xiaomi is that in India, there are no short cuts. We did not take short cuts in terms of employing the people, bringing the right technology and expanding in supply chain areas,” said Foxconn’s India head, adding that women from all 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh work in the factory.
Before the products are packed and sent to Xiaomi’s 10 warehouses in India, the phones pass through several stages of testing — both manual and automated.
While at the production line, all the devices are manually tested at three stages, machines do it at 10 levels. Each and every product manufactured at the Sri City facility also goes through an ageing process of eight hours, Xiaomi said, while showcasing the manufacturing facility to a group of journalists on Monday.
“At Xiaomi, we are obsessed with quality. We believe in doing innovation for everyone. Best of specifications, highest quality and honest pricing are the three principles around which our products are built,” said Muralikrishnan B, Chief Operating Officer, Xiaomi India.
“To maintain quality, maintaining and defining the right standards is equally important,” he said, adding that Xiaomi will continue to invest in designing products, keeping in mind the needs of Indian consumers.