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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers

Daiwa Securities America Inc.

Page -31-

separate from the robot main body, controls three robots.

A study of two years of operation of the BBS welding in an auto plant indicated that its investment efficiency was 30% greater than a conventional robot system. The floor space required was reduced almost in half. The downtime of a BBS robot was one third of the downtime of a conventional robot.

BBS is the aim of most of the makers of sophisticated robots. How many of these building block systems are now operative in Japan is not known, but the several years of experience and the concen- tration of private research laboratories on the BBS would tend to sub- stantiate the Japanese expectation of a substantial increase of the BBS far beyond application only to spot welding. Toyoda Machine Works and Toshiba Seiki have developed successful BBS robots but detailed pro- duction information for these companies and other BBS makers is currently unavailable.

FROM ASSEMBLY ROBOT TO FLEXIBLE MACHINE SYSTEM

The ultimate aim of the assembly robot is the creation of a com- prehensive flexible manufacturing system (FMS) sometimes called the “ unmanned factory”. Such a system as exemplified by Fuji Electric’s turnkey noodle factory would combine industrial robots with an auto- mated warehouse, unmanned transport vehicles, belt conveyors, and computers which would simultaneously operate and record production.

Fujitsu Fanuc has invested Y 8 billion to create such as factory at Fuji to serve both as an automated manufacturer and a showroom. Its production capacity can be expressed in terms of monthly sales of Y 1.5 billion or in terms of production output-- 100 industrial robots, 150 electric discharge wire cutting machines, 100 numerical controls. The total number of employees is 100--19 machine processors, 63 assemblers, 4 inspectors, and 14 management and clerical personnel. A factory of this scale normally requires five times as many people.

The Japanese argue that the FMS actually results not only in reduced labor costs but reduced capital investment. Fuji operates 24 hours a day (unmanned at night) and equipment utilization ratios

are close to

easily.

With

the maximum. Furthermore, model changes can be robots, machines need not be replaced or rebuilt;

made only

the program must robots, factories

be changed.

Prior to the introduction of industrial

often

shut

down

for

months

to

make

the

required

alterations peripheral

for a model change. In addition, a substantial amount factory equipment such as lighting (the robots run at

of night

in an unlighted plant)

unnecessary,

at least

in proximity.

Finally,

, air conditioning and atmosphere in those areas where robots work the miniaturization of industrial

control became without humans robots, which

90-240

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