Industry 4.0 Only a Small Investment AwayBy Alejandro Enríquez | Thu, 10/08/2020 - 13:00
Q: What have been OMRON’s best-selling products in the Mexican market?
A: We have been very successful in different segments, particularly regarding Industry 4.0 implementations. Our solutions are simple, transparent and the initial investment is not that much. We usually create a demo solution for the customer to test it. Companies can see the effect that monitoring quality and efficiency can have, representing millions in savings. Our technology allows companies to collect data from their existing equipment and integrate it into dashboards without needing to modify their existing layouts.
Traceability solutions have also been really popular in the Mexican market. The automotive, health and food industries demand solutions that range from laser markers to bar code scanners to ensure quality and norm compliance. Since our equipment allows the easy storage and management of data, most of these solutions have been really popular.
Q: How did OMRON adapt to customers’ new needs resulting from the pandemic?
A: OMRON just launched HD-1500, one of the most robust mobile robots, which can support up to 1.5 tons. With integrated cameras, it is a flexible model that adapts to the customer’s needs. While mobile autonomous robots were originally designed for material transportation, they have helped companies in this new normal. Moreover, we have integrated solutions where mobile robots use UV to sanitize facilities in a safe manner.
Due to the COVID-19, we have shifted toward virtual showrooms. This allowed us to demonstrate the technology we offer in Leon, Mexico City, Chicago or Toronto, for instance. We schedule a presentation with our customers, we have a person in siteand throughout our video system we livestream how the technology works.
Q: How do you show the market that implementing Industry 4.0 solutions does not mean a large investment?
A: We do this through demos, presentations and seminars. Typically, Industry 4.0 solutions are complex in hardware and software required to collect, manipulate, store and normalize data. Our solutions allow customers to get to the same goal in a very clear and secure way. Often, potential customers do not believe that what we are telling them is possible. Once they try the demo, they want more. Demos have helped a great deal in our strategies.
OMRON continues to bet on innovation. Along with our sanitation robot, we also launched a cabin equipped with artificial intelligence that allows companies to check their employees’ temperature, identity, the times they are accessing the plant or work area, among other variables. Information can be stored in a database to create a dataset for the AI algorithm to predict when it is more likely for someone to present COVID-19 symptoms. These products are new but we are already busy with many interested companies.
Q: What is the best approach to developing the talent needed for data analysis?
A: There are different ways. Some companies are specialized in offering data analysis services, while there are others that prefer doing this analysis in-house. We have created partnerships in both cases. We have enabled infrastructure for companies to store, manage and manipulate the data at their plant. Data analysis companies have approached us to integrate our solutions to their portfolio of cloud data services. Some other companies choose to have an operating dashboard without the need for analysis. I see a scenario where companies will choose to develop their talent while others will choose to hire external services.
Q: How will USMCA influence OMRON’s operations in North America?
A: We have followed closely the automotive clusters’ projects in this regard. We initially believed that there were going to be relocations due to the Labor Value Content rule that establishes salaries of US$16 per hour. However, it is very interesting to see that Japanese companies are choosing to stay in Mexico and increase their wages rather than going to the US. This makes total sense considering the large investments made in state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. Mexican manufacturing quality is often better than in the US. What we are expecting is greater automation levels, higher wages and consequently higher quality for auto parts manufacturing.
Q: What are OMRON’s plans for 2020 and 2021?
A: This year was a period to innovate and adapt to what companies needed; we will remain close to our customers. We are a Japanese company with a high-quality offering. We are telling our customers we are here; we support them by not increasing our prices and with new solutions for them to adapt to the pandemic. When companies face a situation in which they need to reduce costs while assuring quality, they are looking for alternatives that best fit their needs.
We have also conducted a series of webinars during the pandemic to raise awareness in terms of digitalization. More than offering a product, we are displaying solutions that require little investment while supporting companies’ already installed capacity. OMRON will continue to support its current and potential customers through innovation, demonstrations and fixed prices.
OMRON is a Japanese manufacturer and supplier of industrial automation equipment and medical devices. The company offers an extensive variety of automation equipment including robots, sensors and CNC machines