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Contributing to the Next Generation of Manufacturing

Canon is Changing the Production Floor with Its Proprietary Technologies

Canon's 3-D machine vision systems enable industrial robots to carry out picking work faster and with greater precisionCanon's 3-D machine vision systems enable industrial robots to carry out picking work faster and with greater precision

Issues and Approach

The declining working-age population is considered to be a major issue of the future facing not only developed countries and their aging societies, but developing countries as well. The question of how to secure a sufficient number of workers to ensure that products and services can be delivered without loss of quality is of prime concern to companies today, prompting them to seek out new systems of production that optimize the skills and abilities of an increasingly smaller workforce.
In response to this issue, Canon is introducing automation technologies that include industrial robots and artificial intelligence to bring about structural changes on the production floor. Canon believes these changes will facilitate the shift of human labor from simple tasks to value-added work that requires a higher degree of decision-making.
For example, Canon developed 3-D machine vision systems that automates the picking process of randomly piled parts, which until now was a weak point of industrial robots, by utilizing its leading-edge image-recognition, information-processing and optics technologies. This new system is transforming the production floor. Canon also developed MREAL, a solution featuring mixed reality technologies that delivers a new visual experience by seamlessly merging the real world with virtual computer-generated (CG) images in real time. This makes it possible to conduct full-scale simulations and evaluations for those working on the front lines of design and manufacturing. Companies will thus be able to develop products without prototypes and shorten development lead times while also cutting costs and raising resource efficiency. Canon will continue to pursue such innovations with the goal of creating new value on the production floor.

Working-Age Population (15-64) as Percentage of Total Population(%)
  2014 2025 2050
Japan 61.2 57.9 50.9
United States 66.2 62.4 60.4
Canada 68.0 62.7 58.8
U.K. 64.6 62.5 58.7
Germany 65.7 61.8 54.7
France 63.5 60.6 57.6
Italy 64.5 62.0 53.1
Russia 70.8 66.2 62.4
China 72.8 69.2 61.3
India 65.9 67.6 67.8
Brazil 68.6 69.0 62.2
  • Source: Created from data found in the Databook on International Labour Statistics 2015 published by the Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training

Case Study

3-D Machine Vision Systems Solve Issues of Automated Production Lines

Industrial robots have become an integral part of manufacturing today. However, picking work that involves selecting an individual part from randomly piled parts on a pallet or in a box requires people to reposition the parts to make it easier for robots to work. This situation created a bottleneck, hindering efforts to streamline processes and further advance automation.
To address this issue, Canon developed machine vision systems featuring a 3-D recognition function that enables industrial robots to pick up randomly piled parts faster and with greater precision. By combining the system, which acts as the robot's “eyes,” with existing robotics technology, industrial robots will be able to identify the positioning and orientation of randomly piled parts with greater precision, making parts supply work faster and more efficient. In 2015, new products were added to the lineup that makes it possible to pick up even smaller parts. These new products will be widely introduced for lines that handle small parts, such as those used in the electronics industry. Canon will continue to meet the needs of its customers in various industries that utilize automation in manufacturing, and to support advancements resulting in greater precision and higher quality on the production floor.

Randomly piled parts are picked up and supplied to the welding processRandomly piled parts are picked up and supplied to the welding process

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