- Major Apple manufacturer Foxconn is diverting part of its production line to make medical masks and clothing, rather than the usual iPhone parts, in its Shenzhen facility.
- Employees at the Shenzhen facility received a text from the company telling them not to return to the factory on February 10, as was originally scheduled, Bloomberg reports.
- These new adaptations by Foxconn are bad news for Apple, whose supply chain has already been dented by the coronavirus outbreak.
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Foxconn, the chipmaker that fuels production of Apple’s iPhone, has made two huge decisions to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The company is diverting its usual supply chain to start producing medical masks and clothing instead at its Shenzhen factory in China, Reuters reports. The company initially said the masks it makes will be for internal employee use. The outbreak of the virus has led to a huge spike in demand for masks, resulting in shortages in China and beyond.
A Foxconn Technology Group spokeswoman confirmed the move to mask production in an email to Business Insider:
“Foxconn has begun the production of masks at one of its facilities to support its workforce of over one million employees while at work. As part of a second phase of production, the company will look at expanding output by the end of February to produce up to 2 million masks per day,” she said.
Bloomberg also reported on Friday that the company told employees at its Shenzhen factory telling not to return to work on February 10, when work was originally scheduled to resume.
A memo to that effect was distributed to employees via text message:
“To safeguard everyone’s health and safety and comply with government virus prevention measures, we urge you not to return to Shenzhen. We’ll update you on the situation in the city. The company will protect everyone’s work-related rights and interests in the duration. As for the happy reunion date in Shenzhen, please wait for further notice,” read the message.
Foxconn said last month that the virus outbreak would not affect iPhone production, but these new adaptations suggest the company has gone into overdrive. Earlier this week Nikkei Asian Review reported production of Apple’s wireless AirPod earphones has taken a dent due to the crisis.
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