Ja­pan Inc. at the fore­front of the fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion

From ‘smart’ health­care and au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, to ro­bot­ics and fac­tory au­to­ma­tion, Ja­pan Inc. is ready to lead the world into this new era that will trans­form how we live and work.

Newsweek International - - PERISCOPE -

With the emer­gence of tech­nolo­gies such as ro­bot­ics, ad­vanced au­to­ma­tion, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and

the In­ter­net of Things, the world is wit­ness­ing the dawn of a new era hailed as the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion (or In­dus­try 4.0). Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, Ja­pan is un­der­go­ing a pe­riod of eco­nomic re­vi­tal­iza­tion that is un­der­pinned by tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion.

The con­sumer elec­tron­ics and au­to­mo­bile in­dus­tries played a ma­jor role in turn­ing Ja­pan into a global eco­nomic pow­er­house in the 1970s and 80s, be­fore the on­set of what is known as the “lost decade.” But The Land of the Ris­ing Sun is ready to rise again, lever­ag­ing on its tech­nol­ogy pedi­gree to put it­self at the fore­front of the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion.

“The fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion im­plies ro­bot­ics and other hard­ware fields where Ja­pan is

lead­ing,” says Takahiro Hachigo, Pres­i­dent of Honda Mo­tor Co.

Honda is be­hind one of the most iconic fig­ures of Ja­pan’s ro­bot­ics in­dus­try: Asimo, the world’s most ad­vanced hu­manoid ro­bot. Although in July, Honda an­nounced it was stop­ping pro­duc­tion of the friendly-look­ing ro­bot in order to fo­cus on us­ing Asimo’s tech­nol

ogy for more prac­ti­cal use cases in nurs­ing and road trans­port.

This Oc­to­ber the com­pany also an­nounced that it was in­vest­ing $2.8 bil­lion in GM sub­sidiary Cruise Hold­ings to de­velop au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

Beyond the fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment for end users, Ja­pan’s man­u­fac­tur

ers are also adopt­ing In­dus­try 4.0 tech­nolo­gies in their fac­tory lines to help im­prove ef­fi­ciency, qual­ity

and safety, as well as to ad­dress the prob­lem of the shrink­ing work­force. But for Sanyo Ma­chin­ery Works, a com­pany that pi­o­neered au­to­ma­tion in fac­to­ries back in the 1960s, this is noth­ing new.

“Ev­ery­one is talk­ing about how ‘In­dus­try 4.0’ is on the hori­zon and

that we have to brace our­selves for ground-break­ing changes that will shake up in­dus­tries; but the re­al­ity is that we have been do­ing this for over 30 years,” says pres­i­dent, Keita Horiba.

“We have de­vel­oped a new state-of-the-art IT sys­tem and in­cor­po­rated it into a num­ber of assem­bly lines to im­prove the over­all qual­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity of our man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, while also pro­vid­ing quick and de­tailed

in­struc­tions to our em­ploy­ees re­gard­ing pro­duc­tion ma­te­ri­als, meth­ods and sched­ules as­signed to spe­cific assem­bly lines.

“Thanks to these im­prove­ments, our pro­cesses are now more ef­fi­cient and sys­tem­atic. So IOT

and net­work in­te­gra­tion into man­u­fac­tur­ing is noth­ing new to us. We have been do­ing this for a long time now and are look­ing to fur­ther de­velop what we al­ready know.” Hideki Lino, CEO of Of­fice FA, says ro­bot­ics is the field that

gar­ners the most at­ten­tion. But more em­pha­sis is now be­ing put into de­vel­op­ing sys­tem in­te­gra­tion tech­nolo­gies.

“Over the last cou­ple of years, the value of sys­tem in­te­gra­tors has dras­ti­cally risen,” he says.

“We are ex­perts in sys­tem­atic pro­cess­ing, in­te­gra­tion and de­vel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies. Our core ac­tiv­ity is to com­bine tech­no­log­i­cal de­vices to­gether. For ex­am­ple, we com­bine ro­botic tech­nol­ogy with IOT de­vices to en­hance ma­chine op­er­a­tion. We have also linked ro­bot tech­nol­ogy to lithium-ion bat­ter­ies; or ro­bot­ics with new-era semi­con­duc­tors. Our ob­jec­tive is to ex­ploit the po­ten­tial of au­to­ma­tion by cross­ing tech­nolo­gies to­gether.”

In­dus­try 4.0 will rev­o­lu­tion­ize so­ci­ety, in­dus­try and busi­ness. And from ‘smart’ health­care and

au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles, to ro­bot­ics and au­to­ma­tion, Ja­pan Inc. is ready to lead this enor­mous change.

“The fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion im­plies ro­bot­ics and other hard­ware fields where Ja­pan is lead­ing” Takahiro Hachigo, Pres­i­dent, Honda Mo­tor Com­pany

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