updated 11:04 am EDT, Mon May 14, 2012
Canon looks to move to fully-automated camera production by 2015
Electronics maker Canon will transition to the manufacturing of its digital cameras entirely by robots rather than human workers, company spokesperson Jun Misumi told SeattlePI. Such a move would reduce costs and isn't relegated to just Canon, as other Japanese companies are moving towards the same. Canon is aiming to have the process fully automated by as soon as 2015, though this is the best case scenario and no specific dates were revealed.
Despite this change, jobs won't be cut at Canon, Misumi promised. The human workers will be transferred to do new kinds of work when their tasks are taken over by machines, Misumi said.
Companies in Japan are facing challenges from a strong yen exchange rate and growing fears that manufacturing will move to Asia, China, and India due to lower labor costs.
Canon began using the so-called cell production method where workers put together a major part rather than sitting on an assembly line to perform a single task over and over. More recently, robots are getting involved into this cell production, a process Canon now calls man-machine cell. The human element will be phased out in making some products, Canon said.