Japan had already made it a priority to increase automation, artificial intelligence, and digitalization in a variety of sectors, due to its aging population and shrinking workforce. But after the coronavirus upended the world of work, many now see these as necessary factors in helping the country recover from the economic impact of the pandemic - and a number of firms are well-positioned to aid in this transformation.
A McKinsey & Company Tokyo report, The future of work in Japan: Accelerating automation after COVID-19, highlights how the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated Japan´s shift to automation. "Japanese leaders have long promoted productivity improvements to drive economic growth", write partners Maya Horii and Yasuaki Sakurai. "That task has become a more urgent priority as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced an unprecedented drop in economic activity. That movement could prove to be a catalyst for Japanese employers to automate their operations...to deliver more value."
KEBA Japan, a producer of controller systems for robotics and automation, is one company that is welcoming the calls for accelerated industrial automation. "Ever since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began pushing to accelerate the use of robotics as a way to mitigate the effects of a declining working-age population, the Japanese automation market has been very active, especially over the past six months," says Masakazu Murakami, representative director. "As a way to prevent physical contact during the Covid-19 pandemic, robots are increasingly being used in medical, food, and other non-factory applications, where industrial robots have been less common."
Murakami is proud of Japan´s strong track record in the fields of automation and robotics, but he notes that there can be drawbacks to this legacy. "KEBA produces controller systems for robotics and automation, which enable faster development of robot and machine manufacturing. Japanese robotics has a long history, but this means that as the base systems become older, it gets harder to adapt to today´s technology," he says. "We help our clients to develop new systems with our modular-designed controller platform that they can integrate into their processes in a very short time. We have longstanding partnerships with businesses all over the world and have worked with Japanese clients for decades - so no matter what their requirements are, we can help them to see successful outcomes."
Despite the disruption to international cooperation over the past six months, Murakami believes that European and Japanese businesses working together will be able to overcome any number of obstacles to automation.
"There are many opportunities for collaboration with European companies," he says. "Japan´s automation industry is very advanced, but Europe has more advanced technology and experience in other areas. I believe there are great opportunities for European companies working in industrial automation, expecially in the service, medical, food, and agriculture sectors."
KEBA Japan's broad product portfolio: KePlast i-series, the optimized solution for all injection molding machines types - from standard machines up to complex, multi-component machines with integrated robot take-outs.
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More about the article for the magazine 'Eurobiz Japan'
This article appears in the September issue of the magazine 'Eurobiz Japan' by 'European Business Council in Japan' at www.ebc-jp.com
Masakazu Murakami Country Manager, KEBA Japan Co., Ltd. | Industrial Automation+81 (3) firstname.lastname@example.org