Japanese household goods maker Iris Ohyama is installing about 100 industrial robots yearly at its factories in China as a way to deal with rising wages and promote automation.
“So far, 100 to 200 articulated-arm robots used in transportation and assembly have been introduced each year. Currently, we have approximately 1,600 units,” said Naoki Kuramoto, manufacturing director for the company’s operations in China. More robots of the same kind will be added in the future.
The company runs 10 factories in China, with seven in its production hub of Dalian and the rest in Tianjin, Suzhou and Guangzhou. They churn out mainstay products like plastic storage containers and appliances.
China boasts the Iris group’s largest output by value, followed by Japan and the US. The Chinese factories generally are increasing production because sales in Japan, the main destination for their products, remain strong.
“So long as the external environment stays unchanged, China will continue to be the biggest production country” for Iris Ohyama, Kuramoto said.
Even with automation, Iris Ohyama plans to retain its same level of roughly 5,000 workers in China, with about 4,000 in Dalian. Employees who no longer perform the same work are reassigned to other areas like the production of new items and new businesses, Kuramoto said.