In an effort to save money, Canon are looking to use robots to fully automate the production of ink and toner cartridges (and possibly camera lenses too). With other companies such as Foxconn increasingly employing robots to do the jobs of humans, I imagine it won't be that long (10-15 years?) until the majority of low-paid workers in the Far East are replaced by fully-automated machines. What happens to them then?
Canon looking to reduce costs by using industrial robots
With a surging yen and a struggling Europe, Canon is looking to cut costs — and it's doing it with robots. According to Japanese paper Nikkei, as reported by Reuters, Canon wants to save 400 billion yen ($4.82 billion) over the next four years. And to do that it will be increasing its use of industrial robots, which will be used to produce printer toner, and possibly camera lenses. No other cost-cutting measures were revealed, and it's unclear how this move will affect the company's current workforce. In addition to reducing costs, Canon is also reportedly hoping to boost sales by around 41 percent over the next four years. (Source)Canon's Approach to Robot Technologies
In Canon's system for producing laser printer toner cartridges, every single process from component supply to final inspection is automated. This approach is also being implemented in the manufacture of ink cartridges, and the company is working to realize totally unmanned production lines and to apply this technology in component assembly and inspection processes for cameras and printers.
Canon has put a focus on vision in its approach to robot technologies, and in line with this approach, development of the Intelligent Vision System got underway in 2000. Since then, CMOS sensors and other internally-produced LSI circuits, proprietary image-capture technologies, and original recognition technologies have all been deployed in the quest for a next-generation system. (Source)
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