African Fusion

For the third year in a row, Yaskawa technology group is in the list of Top 100 Global Innovators, an accolade that recognises the world’s most innovative companies.

The Top 100 Global Innovators’ award’ was initiated by the Thomson Reuters Media Group in 2011, which uses a set of selection criteria to place the most innovative companies in the world. These criteria include global reach, the number of patents applied for, and the sustained impact of inventions on shaping the future.

Founded more than 100 years ago, Yaskawa is a pioneer in the fields of drive technology, industrial automation and robotics. Then as now, the focus is directed primarily on solutions for tomorrow’s industry. “We invest heavily in areas associated with Industry 4.0 and sustainable energy use,” explained Manfred Stern, CEO and President of Yaskawa Europe and Corporate Vice-President of Yaskawa Electric, on the occasion of the award. “Many projects are currently being conducted in this area throughout all the company’s divisions, and this has been seen by Thomson Reuters and recognised by this award.“

Yaskawa Mini car assembly line demo

Yaskawa’s mini car assembly line demonstration.

Yaskawa is a leading robotics company with over 300 000 Motorman robots, 10-million servos and 18 million inverter drives installed globally, The company provides automation products and solutions for virtually every industry and robotic application; including arc welding, assembly, coating, dispensing, materials handling, cutting and removal, packaging, palletising and spot welding.

The robotics product line includes more than 150 distinct robot models and a full-line of pre-engineered ‘World’ solutions that are complete application-specific work cells that include robots, process and safety equipment.

As well as the robotics business, Yaskawa activities cover drives/inverters, motion control, systems engineering, and software-based products.

VIPA, which specialises in visualisation and process automation, has also been part of Yaskawa since 2012 and, in October 2014, the company acquired Switch Engineering, which does business in the wind turbine sector.

This makes Yaskawa one of the few global companies able to supply components and solutions for almost all industries from a single source.

Extensive investments in research and development have yielded numerous inventions, patents and innovations. These technological aspirations have enabled the Drives & Motion and Robotics divisions to achieve a leading market position in various industries including manufacturing systems and plant engineering – packaging machines, pumps/compressors, textile machines, digital printing machines, cranes and hoisting gear, equipment for semiconductor and electronics production, machines for producing and processing wood, glass, metal and stone as well as lift, automotive, assembly and handling technology.

i3-Mechatronics

With its i3-Mechatronics solution concept, Yaskawa is spanning a bridge between traditional mechatronics and digital technologies. ‘i3’ stands for integrated – intelligent – innovative, and i3-Mechatronics strives to increase productivity and quality by accessing new-generation machine and process data.

Yaskawa’s i3 solution was originally proposed back in the 1970s by director and president, Hiroshi Ogasawara as an ‘unmanned factory’ concept, where digitally controlled and digitally connected machines work systematically. Since then, Yaskawa has been offering an array of automation solutions that include: AC servos, AC drives, and robots for improved productivity and for high quality standards.

i3-Mechatronics was recently announced as the vehicle for further advancements and implementation of automation through the management of digital data. Enhanced productivity and quality through data acquisition and analysis is being realised though artificial intelligence (AI), which offers real-time visualisation of manufacturing status, links and conveyances between devices, and reduction of tact times by leveraging big data for improved productivity.

To secure and maintain high quality, analytics is also being used on data pertaining to manufacturing quality to improve standards of accuracy by automating inspection procedures.

“What Yaskawa is about to offer are new solutions that merge software with hardware, and this is sure to create new value for its customers,” says Stern.

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Title: Editor
Name: Peter Middleton
Email: peterm@crown.co.za
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