The coronavirus pandemic has forced many manufacturers to rethink their approaches to both the geographical concentration of enterprises and the degree to which manual labor is used. Having suffered from the shutdown of enterprises outside the country, many Japanese companies decided that it was cheaper to equip local enterprises with robots than to rely on foreign branches.
Japanese developer of semiconductor components, Rohm Semiconductor, after the first months of the pandemic, rethought the geographic structure of production. His businesses in the Philippines and Malaysia were shut down due to restrictive measures related to coronavirus. Naturally, logistical problems were added to this, so the Japanese company organized experimental production in Fukuoka Prefecture, which replaces manual labor at the final stages of microprocessor manufacturing. Previously, it was more profitable to entrust such operations to employees of foreign enterprises who earned less than their Japanese counterparts.
Now the difference in the income level of workers in Japan and abroad is decreasing, and the cost of labor automation is decreasing, especially when transport costs are taken into account, which, when all technological phases are concentrated in one country, are significantly reduced. Mass production of microprocessor products on the new Rohm automated line will begin in the second half of next year.
The supplier of liquid crystal displays Japan Display (JDI) adheres to a similar tactic – the final operations for processing panels are planned to be carried out in Japan, for which lines with a high degree of automation will be organized. Murata Manufacturing now releases up to 65% of production in monetary terms in Japan, and the company abandoned plans to transfer production outside the country after an outbreak of coronavirus. Along the way, it is supposed to increase the share of products manufactured in the country.
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