Foxconn’s Zhengzhou factories partially resume production, shipping issues could delay delivery of iPhone 13
Published: Jul 23, 2021 05:28 PM
Workers are seen at a workshop in Longhua science and technology park of Foxconn Technology Group in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Feb 22, 2019.Photo:Xinhua

Workers are seen at a workshop in Longhua science and technology park of Foxconn Technology Group in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Feb 22, 2019. File photo:Xinhua

Foxconn's major factories in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province, have partially resumed production as the impact of floods gradually eased. But production at one factory that mainly manufactures USB cables - which was hit the hardest - was still grounded to a halt, the Global Times learned Friday. 

Flooding across the "world's largest iPhone city" will likely to inevitably delay the production of Apple's new iPhone 13 series in the short-term, industry observers said. While capacity being hampered could rebound soon, a more severe issue has to do with the shipment, as major transportation routes throughout the city were still partly cut off and could take a long period for traffic to return to normalcy.

"Most workers trapped at factories and dormitories at the county have been rescued so far, but it is not clear when the production will resume. We are also not informed on the time to go back to work," a Zhongmou-based Foxconn employee, who asked not to be identified, told the Global Times on Friday.

Among the three industrial parks in Zhengzhou, the one in Zhongmou has suffered the most extensive damage, according to media reports. At the peak of flooding, water levels reached neck height, about 1,000 employees were stranded in the dormitories. Water and electricity supplies were both cut off. And many automatic equipment and machines were flooded, news website reported.

The Global Times learned from sources close to Foxconn that the factories in Zhongmou, which employ around 1,700 employees, mainly produce personal computer connectors. 

A Foxconn recruitment manager also confirmed with the Global Times that production has not resumed at the Zhongmou industrial park due to heavy flooding. She added that other two industrial parks - one near the airport and one in Jingkai district - have returned production on Friday. 

"The flood's impact on major production base for smartphones is limited, and there are only puddles outside the industrial park," the sources said.

A Foxconn spokesperson told the Global Times that staff inside the Zhengzhou industrial park are safe and the group will adjust operation based on the development of the floods. 

However, some industry observers pointed out that compared with catching up production, shipping iPhones could create the biggest headache for Foxconn. According to media reports, Foxconn has received bulk of orders for assembling Apple's new iPhone 13, which is expected to be launched in September.

"It is extremely difficult for products to be transported in and out of the industrial park. Some roads in Zhengzhou have been paralyzed due to the heavy flooding, and clean up roadblocks will take certain time," an industry insider said. 

Luffy Lin, chief analyst at Witdisplay, an electronics device consulting platform, told the Global Times on Friday that the sheer size of Zhengzhou factory and a short of workhands could further cast clouds on the timely delivery of iPhone 13.

Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory produces half of the iPhones in the world with 90 production lines, three plants and around 350,000 workers, according to media reports.

Apple has not responded to the interview request of the Global Times as of press time. Apple's CEO Tim Cook said on Sina weibo that the company will be donating to support relief efforts in Zhengzhou.

Foxconn has been on a hiring spree over recent days, offering a record-high cash rewards up to $1,237 for workers, to elevate capacity in the peak production season ahead of iPhone 13 launch. 

The recruitment manager said that the company is still scaling up hiring plan. "If applicants passed the interview, they will be able to start working the same day," she said. 

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