Apple splashes out $10.5b on robots and lasers

Apple is plunging a record $10.5 billion [£6.5 billion] into work on new technologies most of which the everyday consumer will never end up seeing.

The Cupertino based company is investing the money on technology that will help to improve its supply chain such as assembly robots, lasers and milling machines, all designed to assist manufacturing the best devices possible.

“Their designs are so unique that you have to have a very unique manufacturing process to make it. Apple has so much cash that they can invest in cutting-edge, world-class machinery that is typically used for aerospace and defense,” said Muthuraman Ramasamy, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

People with knowledge of the company’s supply chain told Bloomberg that the money will be spent on equipment to polish the iPhone 5C’s plastic casing, lasers and milling machines to carve the MacBook Pro’s body, and testing gear for the iPhone and iPad camera lens.

Samsung is reportedly outspending Apple when it comes to capital outlays with expenditure of $22 billion [£13.7 billion] and both firms are a long way in front of other competitors with Hewlett-Packard, in third place, spending just $3.7 billion [£2.3 billion].

Apple’s manufacturing process is a complicated one due to the fact its engineers spend a chunk of time at Asian factories to make sure machines are working properly. This contrasts with its competitors, most of whom design the product then send it over to China for its engineers to complete the engineering work on devices.

The engineers at Apple have also been known to design machines if they don’t exist with equipment to test the iPhone 4 gyroscope and one that contributed to the 2012 iMac redesign both created by the company’s teams.

There is added speculation that much of the capital expenditure is being spent on technology that will help it to create the new products alluded to by CEO Tim Cook on a results call last month, such as its first trip into the wearables technology market.