Business / Technology

Epson to step up pace of innovation to meet Chinese demand

By Fan Feifei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-05 07:27

Epson to step up pace of innovation to meet Chinese demand

A model poses with 'Moverio BT-200' smart glasses of Epson on the media day of Photokina, the world's largest fair for imaging, in Cologne, September 15, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

Japan's Seiko Epson Corporation is stepping up its pace of technological innovation to better meet the changing demands of the Chinese market, not only in traditional fields such as printer and projection equipment, but also by expanding its robotics and wearable devices activity.

"China is changing dramatically," said Minoru Usui, Epson's president and CEO.

"It has been growing for the past few years and is now very stable. We are focusing on two categories: production and sales in China."

Usui said his confidence in China is based on strong sales of Epson products, including inkjet printers and projectors, which have enjoyed sustained steady growth.

According to company figures, Epson's share of the Chinese inkjet printer market reached 30 percent last year, while its projector business has continued to rank top for the past five years, at a steady 20 percent.

Usui said it will continue to promote its inkjet printers, which are more environmentally friendly, instead of its laser versions, and using its PaperLab technology that takes used paper and creates fresh new sheets to provide buyers with a complete office printing and papermaking ecosystem.

Faced with an ongoing labor shortage and a requirement for more elaborate production, however, he concedes more robots are needed to make its manufacturing processes smarter.

Industry figures show Epson's robot sales surged 78 percent compared to 2014.

Its devices, mainly used in the manufacturing of electronics products, are claimed to help factory operators deliver more quality products and improve the efficiency and accuracy of assembly lines.

"We not only concentrate on smart solutions for customers, but also provide information how to use the robots that could help clients enhance their productivity," said Usui, meaning the company is not just selling products, but also advising and instructing.

It will also tap into the wearable devices sector, Usui added, such as smartwatches and glasses.

Zhu Sendi, a consultant with the China Machinery Industry Federation, said: "China's manufacturing industry is facing a transformation and upgrading toward automation and intelligence under the Made in China 2025 action plan.

Zhu said Epson is likely to expand its business from traditional fields to robot production because it has mastered advanced core technologies, such as sensing technology and image processing technology, and believes its robots business will witness growth in the future.

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