Foxconn making 137,000 iPhone 4's each day

BusinessWeek this morning has an interesting read — a profile of the head of Apple’s main iPhone manufacturing partner, Foxconn’s Terry Gou. Gou notes on Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, “I forced him to give me his business card”.

Foxconn now produces 90 iPhone 4’s a minute, 137,000 per day at its Longhua plant.  That extrapolates down to 1.5 per second or up to 50 million/year.

“Foxconn founder Terry Gou might be regarded as Henry Ford reincarnated if only a dozen of his workers hadn’t killed themselves this year,” the report observes, before launching into a full-scale exploration of the man whose factories produce more than their fair share of techno-heaven.

The report begins during a celebration (of sorts), where employees and management got together to put on a show to lift damaged morale at the factory, following those suicides which marred the year.

Read it and you’ll find a thorough deconstruction of how Gou built his empire from scratch using cash borrowed from his mother, how Apple and the firm almost parted company over employee conditions in the past, and how Dell cut the cruelest low to no profit manufacturing deals.

On the iPhone 4: “When Apple’s iPhone4 was nearing production, Foxconn and Apple discovered that the metal frame was so specialized that it could be made only by an expensive, low-volume machine usually reserved for prototypes. Apple’s designers wouldn’t budge on their specs, so Gou ordered more than 1,000 of the $20,000 machines from Tokyo-based Fanuc. Most companies have just one.

“Terry is a strong leader with a passion for excellence,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer. “He’s a trusted partner and we are fortunate to work with him.”

Read the rest right here.

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