Apple supplier Foxconn now using X-ray machines to catch defective products

FoxconnFoxconn, one of Apple’s main manufacturing partners, is in the middle of making changes to its production line with the introduction of X-ray machines designed to spot faulty products before they leave the factory.

According to a Cnet report on Monday, the idea is that the machines will be able to quickly and efficiently examine, for example, solder joints or printed circuit boards. Cnet cited its source as someone “with first-hand knowledge” of the situation.

Foxconn will hope that the introduction of the X-ray machines will mean fewer faulty products ending up in the hands of consumers; good news for gadget-hungry types, but worrying for quality control workers concerned about their jobs.

The Taiwan-based company, which employs around a million people at assembly plants across China, manufactures many Apple products, including the latest version of the Cupertino company’s highly anticipated iPad device, set to be unveiled on Wednesday. Companies such as Amazon, Sony and Microsoft are also known to use the services of Foxconn.

The news comes in the wake of reports late last year suggesting Foxconn was preparing to build an automated worker manufacturing plant, with plans to use “intelligent robots” for assembling gadgets and electronics.

Foxconn is rarely out of the news regarding its workers, whether human or robotic. In May 2011, an explosion killed three employees at one of its factories, and in the first five months of 2010 around 16 factory workers jumped from high buildings, resulting in 12 deaths. Poor working conditions were suggested as the cause of the suicides. The problems culminated in Foxconn getting workers to sign a “no suicide” pledge.

Despite this, the company had to deal with a mass suicide threat by factory workers over a pay dispute in January of this year.

Apple has acknowledged the troubling issues at some of its overseas manufacturing plants and has been working with its suppliers in an effort to improve conditions.