japan\'s robot king wins again no point fighting fanuc. general motors caved in first. now general electric has joined up with the world\'s leading maker of electronic factory help.

by:Gewinn     2020-06-06
Fortune magazine)
-Future scenes can serve the James Bond thriller.
In the giant bumblebee.
In the pine forest at the foot of Fuji in Japan, the yellow assembly plant, the yellow robot of the hair section Co. , Ltd.
Work late into the night in the terrible darkness.
The hidden clueless person who presided over all this, doctor.
Seiuemon rice leaf, 62-year-
Compared to the old chief executive of Ian Fleming.
No, because of his authoritarian way and the decoration around him. They ;
Cave-like meeting rooms including a huge electronic projection screen and stunning views of snow-
Top of the mountain, a yellow helicopter near the landing table, yellow
Young women smoking low waist deep, running to perform the master\'s soft movementsOral order.
Everything about that subject (pronounced Fa-NUKE)is yellow.
In the words of Inaba, this is \"the color of the Emperor \".
Unlike a doctor
No character was defeated in his plan to take over the Earth, Dr. Inaba --he has a Ph. D.
Major in engineering--
It proved successful in his limited conquest plan.
The family has become the number one in the world.
Equipment suppliers that control automation factory machines around the world.
It is also the main producer of industrial robots and has been making money in this area; U. S.
The profits of competitors are sporadic or non-existent.
At a time when the growth of the factory automation business was disappointing, finaco was taking advantage of the weaknesses of its competitors to further consolidate its control.
The most recent victory took place in January.
GE, the main competitor to digital control of computers in finaco, by forming a 50-fifty U. S.
Joint venture with Inaba.
Computer digital control, referred to as CNCs, is a box filled with electronic devices that act as the brain and nervous system of tools such as lathes and milling machines.
In the words of an expert, under the guidance of CNC, they became \"as flexible as a group of belly dancers\", able to sculpture anything from aircraft wings to submarine propellers.
Through the joint venture, Fanuc also obtained so-
Called a programmable logic controller or plc, it has not done so before.
These electronic boxes are not complicated than CNCs, but are more widely used.
The joint venture was a considerable failure for executives at GE\'s factory automation division, who had vowed years ago to overwhelm the company and other Japanese rivals.
Isn\'t GE more software experts than it is all day long? But the big U. S.
The company lost at least $0. 2 billion in its failure to become an \"automated supermarket (
Fortune, November 11, 1985).
GE will now stop producing its own CNC equipment.
The joint venture, called GE Fanuc Automation, will be launched next year.
It will be transferred to the GE factory in Charlottsville, Virginia to produce the Fanuc model.
They have integrated what GE executives call \"awesome\" improvements.
Just five years have passed since another American industrial giant worked with the small Inaba.
GM is unable to expand the production of industrial robots at a fast enough pace to meet its own needs and sell to others, nor is it able to find the right American enterprise. S.
Partner, a joint venture called GMFanuc robotics.
Soon became the world\'s largest supplier of robots.
The recent coup d\' état in Fanna has brought the whole industry to focus on --eyed amazement. Says Dennis E.
Vicsnowski, president of Wizdom Systems, a factory automation company based in Neville, Illinois, said: \"inaba has both GE and GM selling his products.
Can you do better?
\"Even when the automation business is in the doldrums, the company is profitable, at least compared to previous expectations.
Glen Allen dingg, president of Boston\'s Port research company that tracks the industry, estimates that automation devices, including computers, are sold globally
Running machine tools rose from $24.
It was $7 billion in 1982.
1986 8 billion.
Sales of industrial robots climbed from $0. 16 billion to $0. 38 billion.
While this growth will spark a binge in a mature industry, it is disappointing in an industry that is counting on the rocket to rise.
To make matters worse, in the US, robot sales are expected to decline in 1987. S.
If not in Europe and Japan
Security analysts have given many explanations.
For example, Eli Lustgarten of Paine Webber noted that manufacturers who have purchased automation equipment in recent years have found themselves weak in cash flow;
Survival rather than investment has become synonymous with people.
Other analysts point out that big automation efforts such as General Motors are not paying off well.
Robot users are often sold for performance that has never been achieved in the factory.
Part of the reason is GM\'s cut, which saw sales fall by 29% in the fiscal year ended March 31. At the late-
Exchange rate in April, income figure of $0. 8 billion;
Measure the percentage of the decline in yen units to eliminate the impact of the sharp decline in the dollar.
Inaba says he doesn\'t care because he feels the downturn in the industry is temporary and sales will recover.
He is proud of the fact that Fako continues to make good profits for Japanese rice --paper-
Thin Standard: 28% of pre-tax sales in the last fiscal year,
Fiscal 37% 1986.
Despite the fact that the company has kept prices unchanged in the United States, this is still true. S.
The dollar fell despite.
\"I think Fanuc is the only Japanese company that can do this,\" Inaba said. \'\' Its secret?
Of course not advanced technology: Fanuc gets most of the technology from other companies.
Inaba hopes to tap a new source in his joint venture with GE, just as he continues to acquire technology from GM.
No, Fako beat his competitors with the lowest score.
Cost producers of unmatched quality key automation components.
The success of Fanucs and Dr.
As we all know, he is Inaba.
He used to be a cannon design student at the University of Tokyo and later went on to pursue a doctorate. D.
From Tokyo Institute of Technology.
In 1955, a few years after working for Fujitsu, a large Japanese electronics company, Inaba was selected to lead a team of 500 engineers leading Fujitsu into the factory automation business.
The new organization is named Fujitsu Fanuc and the second word is acronym, the initials of Fuji automatic CNC.
The first word was deleted in 1982, although Fujitsu continues to have 41.
8% of the company
Other major shareholders are Fuji Electric, holding 4 shares. 8%;
Two Japanese banks with one home6% each;
Siemens, Germany, 1%
And Chase Manhattan\'s London subsidiary to 0. 9%.
In a land known for its detour, Inaba is very direct.
When asked about some Americans who accused him of putting the family at the foot of Fuji so that visiting dignitaries could take pictures in the background with the Japanese symbol Inaba substance --of-
In fact, he replied, \"I do have the idea.
His actions can also be pointed out similarly.
He once told his engineers, \"No matter how well the product is produced, we won\'t be able to win the war if we can\'t sell it at the right time.
He gave a wall clock to the product development lab in funako, running at ten times the normal speed.
He said: \"This made a speech in our province . \"
Delay decision without seeking consensus
Because Inaba manages it like a military organization.
Subordinates will not speak unless they speak at the meeting.
But he paid them very well: managers earn 50% more than their counterparts in other Japanese companies, and engineers earn 30% more than other companies.
In return, Inaba gained amazing loyalty.
In Japan, where workawayers are, Fanuc research engineers are probably the busiest;
They often sleep on the beds provided by the hotel. Inaba\'s 39-year-
One of them is Yoshiharu, the old son.
\"I have never seen him take a vacation,\" the father boasted . \".
\"I have never seen him rest.
At the tenako complex, employees and managers can commute on weekends and visit their families in Tokyo, 75 miles from the factory.
They work until 9 or 10 in the evening. M.
An American executive said, then returned to their office at 6: 30 in the morning.
Inaba attributed Fanuc\'s success to what he called \"a narrow path \".
The range of products produced by the company is quite extensive, including some machine tools.
However, control equipment and robots account for 75% of sales, and Inaba is very concerned with control technology and motors running robots and other factory machines.
\"It is on this narrow path that I am trying to innovate and I think that is why I am competing,\" Inaba said . \".
I have never tried these two basic techniques.
Few companies can cut costs more relentlessly.
The company has automated its own factories to some extent, which may be unknown elsewhere in the world.
Behind the Yellow Wall is a paradise for manufacturing engineers, where robots install electronic visual lines through the motor housing, and night production of machine tool parts is supervised by a single human controller on the TV screen.
Inaba claims that the number of robots in the Fuji plant is slightly higher than that of production workers, with more than 400 units.
The rest of the 1,700 workers are research engineers, management and sales.
Five years ago, AmericaS.
The National Science Foundation has funded a study by Carnegie Mellon University on possible methods for automatic assembly of electric motors.
By that time, Fanuc had assembled 10,000 electric motors per month in a fully automated factory;
With 70 workers and 130 robots, the plant has since increased production to 18,000 motors per month.
The factory cost $32 million to build, about one
The cost of traditional facilities is one in ten, and only one in ten workers are needed.
In order to make this Assembly possible, the company had to redesign the motor and significantly reduce the number of parts.
German engineering slogan \"Wen Ge Taili \"(fewer parts)
Prominently displayed in Fanuc;
Inaba is a precise and efficient admirer of Germany, who speaks German very well.
Inaba said that in the current \"rationalized\" effort to resist the yen impact, his engineers reduced the number of parts in the motor controller ---
Device for adjusting motor speed--
Eliminate all cables and metal from 1,070 to 573
Stamping process.
The robot now assembles the controller in six minutes instead of the previous 90 minutes.
INABA\'s insistence on product reliability is also uncompromising.
Everything is tested to a certain extent and may be unknown elsewhere.
Gordon Richardson, industrial electronics consultant at Arthur D, said
Small and long-time finaco Observer: \"The United StatesS.
The manufacturer was caught snoozing.
They hyped all kinds of progress, but they did not complete the fundamental work of making reliable systems.
Just like Japanese cars, the CNC equipment of the company runs longer between repairs than its competitors.
Fanuc aims to sell anywhere in the world, including the Soviet group.
In fact, with the help of Uncle Sam, Inaba helped to establish the CNC industry in Eastern Europe.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, in the 1970 s, was funded mainly by the United States. S.
Help the Third World countries to develop the machine tool industry.
The idea is to enable backward farming countries to make their own rakes and hoes.
Bulgaria was selected as the main recipient of the EU. N. \'s largess.
Efforts to help make simple agricultural tools in Bulgaria have not stopped.
In 1974, finaco issued a control and motor manufacturing license to the Bulgarian and later helped to set up a production plant in Sofia-
A replica of Mount Fuji plant in yellow color.
Since then, Bulgaria has developed into a major supplier of civil and military machine tool control for the Eastern European group.
Next to a small technical museum at headquarters, Inaba displays his decorations and awards from around the world.
The first degree is Madarski Konnik (
Equestrian activities in Madar)
Medal awarded by the People\'s Republic of Bulgaria.
The devices in fanko are much more complex than those that have been licensed in Bulgaria and seem to have found the way behind the Iron Curtain as well.
With America. S.
Like some Western European countries, Japan is a signatory to these countries. called Cocom (
Coordination Committee)
Agreement prohibiting the sale of advanced manufacturing equipment to the Soviet bloc. But Richard W.
Kuba, International Marketing Director, National Machine Tool Manufacturers AssociationS.
He recently spent three weeks visiting the Soviet machine tool factory, where he reported the use of advanced Fanuc control systems.
When asked about this, Inaba said that Fako insisted on \"faithful\" export controls, which are administered by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in Japan.
MITI was \"very enthusiastic and diligent in the implementation process\", he added \".
Robot market in the United StatesS.
Since its partnership with General Motors, the company has been an oyster for the family.
The market has been bad recently, with billions predicting
It turns out that the dollar robot industry is at best too early.
In addition to the company, the industry has lost half of its sales.
When the GMFanuc robot enters the battle--
Took the biggest customer in the industry. -
Competitors are in chaos.
Westinghouse bought the original US Treasury bonds in 1983. S.
Robotics, Unimation Inc.
Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut is closing Danbury\'s business and moving the remainder of the business to Pittsburgh.
GE quickly pulled out of the robotics industry, and Asea in Sweden ended production in the United States. S.
At present, GMFanuc is also in trouble, laying off 220 of the 700 employees.
Eric Mitchell Stadt, president and chief technology officerE. O.
Sales are expected to reach $1 billion by 1990;
Now he hopes to reach that goal by 1995.
This year, the company\'s sales will drop by about 35% to just over $100 million, with little profit at best.
Both Mittelstadt and Inaba, chairman of the joint venture, claim to be optimistic about the future.
\"Once sales hit the bottom, they can only rise,\" Inaba said.
In order to win in the field of computer digital control, the company does not need to align with GE.
In the 1970 s, Japanese machine tools began to penetrate into the U. S. market, most of which were equipped with the control units of the family. S.
Effective market.
In 1980, finaco presented a wide variety of CNC equipment at a large trade show, which surprised GE, its main competitor.
The operation is simple and has such a \"user friendly\" function, such as a picture of the socket on the button, instead of the word \"coolant\", in 18 months, fanuc\'s CNCs account for nearly third of GE\'s 65% market share.
Today, Fanuc has a 70% market share in the world.
The rest of AmericaS.
Producers of CNCs are scrambling.
Including Alan.
Bradley, milarone, Cincinnati, gilding and Lewis, and Westinghouse.
Although a second
CNCs ranked player, Alan-
Bradley and Gould together became one of the major producers of programmable logic controllers.
Will GE just be Sears selling Japanese products?
\"GE has a nationwide distribution network, and farnko has the best products,\" said Frank Curtin, a former GE executive . \". Robert P.
President and Collins in Washington, D. C. E. O.
In the North American division of the new joint venture, General Electric Financo automation achieved profits with global sales of $0. 25 billion this year.
Collins aims to grow at least 15% a year.
GE executives condemned the sale. Says Marion S.
Richardson, executive vice president of the company in charge of factory automation products: \"God knows, we have heard enough comments.
It is a very natural marriage that will make the field one of the most competitive businesses in the world.
That\'s simple.
The industry has begun to speculate that the company will one day abandon the US market. S. partners.
Wizdom Systems\'s smart Sky says that fazko will be able to get rid of GM and GE in five to ten years and become a comprehensive American.
Headquartered in factory automation, we are invincible in both robotics and control.
\"Dr. snowski said
At that time, Inaba will had done what GM was trying to do on robots, and did what GE was trying to do in terms of control, neither of which could do it on its own.
They need him.
If GM decides that it doesn\'t want to work in the robotics industry and sell the business to GE Fanuc venture, then GE may say, \"it\'s too much trouble and he ends up getting it all.
Officials at GM and General Electric insist they will stay at the company.
FA na ke has his own reasons to maintain marriage for a long time.
From GM, Inaba has acquired more advanced robotic control technology than he has in the fanko.
He can also upgrade a level in the robot hierarchy to better integrate the robot into more advanced automation systems that will be used in tomorrow\'s factory.
From GE, Inaba gained more: to participate in a potentially huge new market, Fanuc does not have products and technologies, including not only programmable controllers, but also Factory ground computers.
GE obtains them from IBM and digital devices and modifies them to run automated production systems.
Japanese are still not as good as American in factory automation software.
So when the American engineer at GMFanuc developed an advanced programming language that controls the motion of the robot,tech windfall.
The programming language was named Karel in honor of the Czech playwright Karel Capek, who introduced the word \"robot\" at the beginning of the century and gained wide recognition in the industry.
Now, as the Doctor\'s Little Giant\"
Inaba likes to call himself a competitor, he has successfully eliminated GE and GM, and his only tough enemy is his old age.
But he looks healthy.
Unless there is an accident, he still has enough time to paint the rest of the world as a unique pinako yellow.
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