Canon wants to eliminate humans from production lines

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by RichA, May 14, 2012.

  1. RichA

    RichA Guest

    But is there a specific robot to apply the electrical tape??

    Associated Press:

    Canon seeks full automation in camera production

    Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press
    TOKYO - Canon Inc. is moving toward fully automating digital camera
    production in an effort to cut costs - a key change being played out
    across Japan, a world leader in robotics.

    If successful, counting on machines can help preserve this nation's
    technological power - not the stereotype of machines snatching
    assembly line jobs from workers, Jun Misumi - company spokesman, said

    The move toward machine-only production will likely be completed in
    the next few years, perhaps as soon as 2015, said Misumi, although he
    declined to give specific dates.

    Japanese manufacturers have been moving production abroad recently to
    offset the earnings damage from the soaring yen.

    And fears are growing about a hollowing-out of Japan Inc. as jobs move
    to China, India and the rest of Asia, where labour costs are cheaper.

    Misumi was adamant that jobs won't be cut at Canon.

    "When machines become more sophisticated, human beings can be
    transferred to do new kinds of work," he said.

    Toyota Motor Corp. is also working on beefing up automated production
    not only to cut costs but achieve better quality.

    In a recent plant tour for reporters, Toyota showed how welding got
    much faster and more precise through instantaneous laser-welding.

    Toyota used that technology to make Lexus luxury models move and
    withstand sharp turns better.

    Despite growing pressure from the high yen, Toyota is innovating
    production efficiency to keep annual Japan production at 3 million
    vehicles, about a third of its global production, by reducing costs
    through boosting robotics use.

    Akihito Sano, professor at Nagoya Institute of Technology, said Japan
    needs to do more to fine-tune its sophisticated technology so robotics
    can become more practical, and was doing some soul-searching lately
    about practical applications.

    Japan has tended to focus on research and come up with razzle-dazzle
    humanoids and then get been beaten in simple but practical products
    like the Roomba vacuum cleaner by iRobot Corp. of the United States,
    he said.

    Honda Motor Co.'s walking and talking Asimo human-shaped robot comes
    with voice recognition, pours juice into a cup and can run around on
    two legs. But, unlike Roomba, it has yet to enter a real living room
    to do actual vacuuming and it merely plays mascot at events.

    Since the late 1990s, like other manufacturers, Canon began using the
    "cell" production method, in which a team of workers or one worker
    puts together a major part, rather than doing a simple task over and

    In recent years, robots have become so much a part of this cell
    production, Canon calls it "man-machine cell." Eventually, human
    involvement will be phased out in making some products, according to

    In the U.S., Inc. is buying Kiva Systems, which makes
    robots and software to help companies fulfil orders, for $775 million.

    Amazon has been using automation at its order fulfilmentcentres for
    some time. But Kiva's technology is designed to lower costs and will
    be used to help workers pick and pack books.

    Sano, the academic, stressed the need for a system so workers can
    communicate with robots. He also stressed that there will always be
    room for human intelligence, using the Japanese for "craftsmanship,"
    or "takumi."

    "Human beings are needed to come up with innovations on how to use
    robots," said Sano. "Going to a no-man operation at that level is
    still the world of science fiction."
    RichA, May 14, 2012
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