tech in the spotlight
Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 15, 2012 11:52 AM
The assembly-line process made famous by the Ford Motor Company that ushered in an era of mass production that enabled consumers across the globe to have the same products at the same time is about to change.
Assembly-line jobs used to be the backbone of the working class. But now robots are entering the picture more and more and Canon claims that it will have its digital-camera assembly line in Japan completely automated as soon as 2015, according to The Toronto Star. As it is now, jobs have been moving out of the country to China, India, and elsewhere in Asia due to the high price of labor expenditures.
Employees of Canon needn't be alarmed. “When machines become more sophisticated, human beings can be transferred to do new kinds of work,” said Jun Misumi, a spokesman for the company, commented to the Star.
Canon won’t be the only Japanese company moving in this direction. “Toyota Motor Corp. is also working on beefing up automated production not only to cut costs but achieve better quality,” the newspaper reports. The car manufacturer has shown recently that welding is far more quick and precise when automated than when a human pulls down the welding mask and picks up a blowtorch.
This more practical use of robotics is a change for Japan, according to Akihito Sano, professor at Nagoya Institute of Technology. The professor claims that Japan “has tended to focus on research and come up with razzle-dazzle humanoids and then get been beaten in simple but practical products like the Roomba vacuum cleaner by iRobot Corp. of the United States.”
Sano also told the site that there is no need to worry about human beings getting totally worked out of the picture just yet: “Human beings are needed to come up with innovations on how to use robots,” said Sano. “Going to a no-man operation at that level is still the world of science fiction.”
[Image via Shutterstock]