Kyoto-based Nidec will start offering factory automation robots by this year end, to stem the worker drought affecting the Asian continent.
The electronic parts maker, which aims to do away with overtime for its workers by fiscal 2020, will first test the productivity-boosting equipment at its own facilities.
Internet of Things (Iot) has already brought about a revolution in American and European factories and the same is now being seen in Asia. It allows for automatically adjusting output volumes to meet demand, and offers domestic manufacturers the possibility of competing on the cost front with cheap labor in the Asia region, even while producing at home in Japan.
Nidec aims to directly sell systems based around factory robots and including linked components such as reducers, sensors and cameras, offering its artificial intelligence (AI) technology together with its robotics technology.
The Kyoto company has already begun jointly developing automated carrier machines with a startup based in Ibaraki Prefecture. The two have produced carrier robots that navigate spaces using wireless communication, as well as ones equipped with automatic following functions.
A Nidec factory to be built in Vietnam could present an opportunity to test the technology. Nidec will gather data in such areas as cost savings and productivity boosts on its own turf before offering its systems to major manufacturing plants.
Precision motors for computer hard-disk drives have been among Nidec’s bread-and-butter products, but through acquisitions, it has been shifting toward mid- and large-size motors for industrial and consumer-electronics applications.
Factory automation robots have drawn demand not only from Japanese manufacturers – who face a labor crunch triggered by a shrinking population and other factors – but also from overseas companies looking to raise productivity.
According to marketing research firm Fuji Keizai, the global market for next-generation factory automation devices and systems may nearly triple by 2022 to around 63.5 billion from about $22.3 billion in 2017.
Image credits and content: Nidec/Nikkei Asian Review