Written by Jonny Williamson
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Canon Inc. has set itself the ambitious task of making the production of digital camera completely machine automated by 2015, without resulting in job losses.
Canon’s announcement sums up the changes sweeping Japanese manufacturers currently as they seek to become more efficient and productive in the face of recent challenges, such as the soaring yen, with many moving production overseas.
A spokesman for Canon, Jun Misumi, assured current employees that the change to automation didn’t mean jobs would be lost; rather that labour would be refocused elsewhere:
“When machines become more sophisticated, human beings can be transferred to do new kinds of work,” Misumi commented.
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Misumi went on to indicate that the assembly line workers displaced by the new robots would be engaged in production-control jobs, or “new divisions in growth fields.”
Canon believe that fully-automated production processes will help keep domestic manufacturing in Japan, and are looking to take inspiration from other home-grown companies like Toyota. The automotive company has been increasingly raising the level of robotic-automation within its assembly lines in a bid to lower costs and achieve a better quality end-product. After recently installing instantaneous laser-welders, Toyota has seen welding become much faster and more precise, enabling them to make luxury models for Lexus which are more aerodynamic and can withstand sharp turns better.
Canon plan to start plant upgrades with its sites in Japan, but if successful, the company will no doubt replicate the process to its three overseas facilities. If Canon manages to achieve its goal, it will become the world’s first maker of cameras to replace all of its workers in favour of robots.