May 2, 2017

OMRON Corporation has announced its plan to successively incorporate artificial intelligence (AI)/ internet of things (IoT) technologies into its factory automation (FA) equipment up to 2020 in a bid to offer solutions to the social issues facing many manufacturing businesses, such as the shortage of skilled engineers and rise of labour costs.

By equipping FA equipment with optimal AI algorithms to replace the knowledge and intuition of skilled engineers with AI, OMRON aims to realize the ‘manufacturing floors of the future’ in which ‘machines bring out human capabilities and creativity’. OMRON is the only FA equipment manufacturer in the world that has all of the necessary equipment for automating manufacturing sites under one umbrella, including sensors and other input devices, motors and other output devices, safety devices, and robots. So far, OMRON has constantly provided its customers with a variety of benefits made possible by the world’s cutting-edge information technology.

Such initiatives include renovation of programmable logic controller architecture into one that is software-based and suitable for informatisation, and proactive use of EtherCAT, IO-Link, and other open networks. Based on its many years of experience and knowhow in developing FA equipment to help its customers to solve their manufacturing issues, OMRON believes that it is important to implement optimal AI algorithms that are carefully selected for each piece of equipment in order to replace the skills of experienced workers with AI on manufacturing floors.

Work in progress

At present, OMRON is conducting demonstrations at its own and customers’ factories in the Netherlands, China, and Japan to determine how different types of FA equipment can be equipped with AI algorithms and how such equipment can be made IoT-capable.

Following its 2015 statement that it would make all of its 100,000 varieties of FA equipment IoT-capable, OMRON has begun releasing related equipment. Simultaneously it started acquiring knowhow on AI-equipped mobile robots and other industrial robot types, as well as the world's finest motion control technology, and offering such technologies globally. This April saw the release of a temperature controller featuring AI, the first of its kind in the FA industry. By integrating the world’s most extensive FA equipment line with AI, IoT, robotics, and other state-of-the-art technologies, OMRON is enhancing its products and technologies that help to solve issues on manufacturing floors.

The rise of the machines

Going forward, in order to make IoT and AI technologies into handy tools on manufacturing floors, OMRON plans to equip sensors, as well as machine automation controllers, with optimal AI algorithms in order to complete its plan to make all of its FA equipment AI-/IoT-capable by 2020. OMRON will remain committed to realizing manufacturing processes that ‘produce no defects and do not stop’. It will do so by using its original AI-equipped, IoT-capable, devices to monitor the status of equipment and processes and assure product quality in its ongoing effort to resolve the social issues that trouble manufacturing businesses, including the shortage of skilled engineers and the rise of labour costs.


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