Panasonic partners with autonomous robotic startup Linkwiz to enhance welding processes in manufacturing
Panasonic, a worldwide leader in the development of diverse electronics technologies and solutions for customers in the consumer electronics, today announced it has signed a partnership agreement with Japan-based startup Linkwiz. The agreement, which will be undertaken by Panasonic’s Connected Solutions Company, will help to accelerate Panasonic “Gemba Process Innovation.”
Founded in March 2015 and led by its President, Go Fukino, Linkwiz specializes in the development and sales of autonomous robotic system software and technical consulting. Linkwiz has been developing and selling industrial-use robot control system software which utilizes proprietary algorithms. Linkwiz’s main products include software to control robots used for welding and paint application, and software for conducting automated inspection of each piece coming off a production line. Linkwiz’s products have already been adopted by a number of major enterprise customers.
Under its “Gemba Process Innovation” vision, Panasonic is expanding its B2B solutions business. “The ‘gemba,’ or physical site for frontline operations, is where value is generated and problems must be confronted,” explained Yasu Higuchi, CEO of the Connected Solutions Company. “By applying our 100-years of experience and expertise gained in the manufacturing industry with our sensing technologies and edge devices, Panasonic aims to co-create with our customers and partners to solve problems at the gemba. We are advancing the Gemba Process Innovation vision with offerings to the three main areas of manufacturing, logistics and retail.”
In recent years, these industries in Japan in particular are facing pressure to improve and innovate processes as they become impacted by societal issues including a rapidly declining labor force, stagnant productivity, a drastic increase in the volume of logistics, a shift to a smarter and more automated society, and demand for work style reforms. Under such conditions, especially in the welding processes for automotive manufacturing, there is a shortage of expert workers due to difficulties in passing on technical knowledge. Moreover, with heightened environmental concern driving the expanded use of EVs, there are additional challenges to make vehicles lighter in weight and higher in strength by integrating new materials; and from a safety standpoint, to maintain a high level of quality over the long term and to strictly control manufacturing traceability.
Panasonic began its welding equipment business in 1957, and over the past 60 years has been providing welding systems and robots for the automotive, construction machinery and shipbuilding industries.
Through this collaboration, Panasonic will combine its expertise in manufacturing operations cultivated over its long history with Linkwiz’s knowhow in autonomous robotic system software to optimize welding processes in the three stages of cutting, welding and inspection; and through this, make a contribution to the advancement of the manufacturing industry by addressing the pressing issues of labor shortage and quality enhancement.
Panasonic plans to further expand its partner ecosystem in order to promote its Gemba Process Innovation vision, becoming a total integrator for frontline operations in diverse fields.
Below is a video of Panasonic Gemba Process Innovation.