We all know that the majority of our technology gadgets are produced in China, but the supply and manufacturing process isn’t quite as simple as it might appear.
Apple more than most is a master at using the supply chain to its advantage, sourcing suppliers that can turn out parts in the most cost effective way whilst still adhering to the company’s quality requirements.
It estimates that an iPhone would cost $4 more if it was built in the US, but crucially for Apple it would also mean the company had to pay a lot more tax on its profits (35 percent as opposed to two percent).
There are many small components that do not go directly from the supplier to the final assembly, it must first pass through many previous phases where the equipment forming part weapon. A clear example are the pieces of fingerprint sensor of the latest iPhone. For this part of the device is ready to be assembled, there are parts that are traveling more than 19,000 kilometers.
An example of this is the iPhone Home button, as this gives a trip around the world that you could not imagine. It all starts in the Chinese province of Hunan, specifically in the city of Changsha. There is the factory of the company Lens Technology, which is responsible for making the part that touches the user when you activate your terminal. Your employees are responsible for converting the sapphire crystal (as strong as diamond) on the cover of the button.
Then they reach to that factory the metal rings that cover this element. Production of these is on LY Technology company, which is based in Jiangsu Province, located 885 kilometers over Changsha. When both parties have already been combined, together they must travel 1,600 kilometers to the premises of the firm NXP, where they join a controller chip come from a factory in Shanghai (which has had to travel another 650 kilometers to get there ) and the Touch ID sensor, which is responsible for fingerprint recognition. This component is not developed in China, but comes from the factory that NXP has in Europe. Therefore, it has had to make a trip of over 8,000 kilometers to meet with their peers.
It does not end there. To these elements be joined the button itself, whose production will be commissioned to a subsidiary of the Japanese firm Panasonic located more than 2,400 kilometers. This piece already includes a component known as “booster” that leads behind a journey of 965 kilometers from the American company Molex will package at its factory in Shanghai. All these iPhone parts don’t joined eache other bind to any of the above factories. It’s Mektec, a Taiwanese company, who is in charge of that and also puts its bit by incorporating a flexible circuit handles.
The result has to travel by boat more than 2,400 kilometers to a call at a laser welding plant located in Japan, owned by the firm Sharp, who takes charge of sealing the Touch ID module. Then, fully functional and ready to be incorporated into the assembly of the iPhone, the component must travel the 2,092 kilometers that separate it from the Foxconn factory located in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou. That is where some of the 128,439 employees of Apple supplier controversial finish assembling the device.
When he joined the other parts of the phone, the iPhone Home button and takes her back more than 19,300 kilometers. But there has not finished everything. Until you reach the end users, we still expect the occasional trip by land, sea and air bound for stores distributors and from there to the pockets of the fanboys.