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The labor force is declining. Productivity is also declining.We are pioneering the transformation of the manufacturing industry for the future society. The labor force is declining. Productivity is also declining.We are pioneering the transformation of the manufacturing industry for the future society.

Dispatching Robots “Who” Can Coexist and Work in Cooperation with People

In April 2016, we launched our industrial robot dispatch (rental) business together with Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Double-armed SCARA robot, duAro was selected as the first commemorable introduction in this new business. duAro is a robot designed for coexistent operation with people and was released in October 2015 by Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Outfitted with two coaxial arms, duAro robots can replicate the actions and movements of a person within the scope necessary for work. In other words, one duAro robot can fit into a single-person space to do the same work as a person with two arms. Using low power motors and equipped with collision detection, duAro robots can exist and work in cooperation with people. Above all, duAro robots include a direct teaching function, so that operators can directly teach them movements which allows easy operation for small and medium sized companies that have hesitated about introducing robots.

Making It Possible to Introduce Robots with Drastically Reduced Initial Costs

Labor shortages are growing worse while product production is growing more diversified. Securing sufficient production line capacity is becoming more difficult year by year for small and medium sized companies. If it continues, it is even feared that the production market could contract due to an inability to meet demand in several years or decades. What will halt this trend is Tokyo Century’s robot dispatch business. Without learning complex robot programming languages or difficult teaching systems, the stress involved in starting operation is drastically reduced. Best of all, It becomes possible to introduce robots with the dramatic initial cost reduction, as robot purchase is not required. With a six-month contract, rental costs are around ¥200,000 per month. Truly not expensive at all if put in place of human workers operating 24 hours a day. With the elimination of high initial costs, no fixed asset allocation, and increased flexibility to handle production fluctuations, Tokyo Century’s robot dispatch business can offer ideal solutions, which resolve numerous problems all at once.

The New Robot Strategy Propelled Our Project Forward

Tokyo Century started this project in April 2016. However, we had been looking into the robot industry long before then. In order to promote the introduction of robots designed to collaborately work with people, in December 2013, the regulation that required a safety fence between people and robots with motors exceeding 80 watts was abolished. In January 2015, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced its New Robot Strategy, aimed at the realization of a new industrial revolution using robots. In terms of specific figures, the New Robot Strategy aims for doubling the field of manufacturing segment and increasing the non-manufacturing segment twentyfold to expand the size of robot market to over ¥2 trillion nationwide. Needless to say that, the context for this movement lies in declining working force. In order to make up for a labor pool losing some 720 thousand work forces yearly on average, a national policy was established to increase the introduction of robots. This development was a significant locomotive, which promoted our launching of this project.

[ Japan’s labor population ]

Demand not only in Japan but from markets around the world.

Although Tokyo Century’s robot dispatch project has only just come into full operation, we have been receiving inquiries from numerous companies already. In addition, these interested companies are not only in Japan but also throughout Asia. In order to meet as many of these companies’ needs as possible, we are now looking to determine robot types and directions for customizations. We would also like to increase awareness of the term “robot dispatch” in this market. What we are aiming for is to grow the market to a scale of tens of billions of yen. We know there is a market that needs robot dispatching. Now we just have to expand that market and contribute to production systems not only in Japan but all over the world. The reborn Tokyo Century will continue to create innovative businesses and aggressively promote ventures food, medicine, cosmetics and others. The robot dispatching industry still has a long way to go, so we want to work to continuously make new moves and promote its development.

[ Global and Japanese Robot Markets ]

Annual units sold

Cumulative units worldwide (2015) : 229,261

Region 2014 2015
Japan 29,297 40,000
China 57,096 150,000
North America 31,029 44,000
Europe 45,559 66,000
Asia 52,951 85,000

Cumulative units in operation

Cumulative units worldwide (2015) : 1,480,778

Region 2014 2015
Japan 295,829 291,800
China 189,358 614,200
North America 236,891 323,000
Europe 411,062 519,000
Asia 299,841 511,000

Source : IFR 2015

Toshifumi Takashima

Managing Executive Officer
President, Corporate Business Unit I

Joined Tokyo Century in 2013 after working for the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank (Mizuho Bank), Mizuho Securities, and Mizuho Corporate Bank. Appointed as managing executive officer in 2017. Also president of Corporate Business Unit I, which is in charge of key clients such as major domestic manufacturers, financing, and insurance companies.

(The contents of the article and the position titles are as of the date posted)