Karel Čapek introduced the word “robot” to the modern language when he wrote R.U.R., subtitled Rossum’s Universal Robots. Čapek’s play became immediately popular around the world. Many more robots followed in fiction and film, with perhaps the most famous, R2-D2 and C-3PO, helping the Star Wars franchise
earn box office revenues of more than USD 6.5 billion to date.
Today, there are millions of robots in service around the world in industrial and consumer settings – vacuuming floors, blowing up landmines, manufacturing semiconductors and exploring Mars. In recent years, consumers have been able to purchase robotic dogs and other mechanized companions. Soon robots will care for elderly people.
The Japanese company DENSO CORPORATION began developing industrial robots in 1967, and in the early 1980s it developed 4-axis and 6-axis robots that have almost
unlimited freedom of movement. DENSO subsidiary DENSO WAVE now develops the company’s robotics technologies – robots that are productivity tools, designed to maximize
the efficiency of processes in the manufacturing of precisely engineered products, including medical instruments and automobiles.
Masatoshi Kojima, Director of DENSO WAVE’s Controller Business Engineering Division, explains that the company aims to develop robots that are progressively safer, more durable and simpler to use. “In designing robots, we look at our customers’ goals,” Kojima says. “Faster robots allow improved productivity, well-designed robots
allow efficient use of factory space, and we always strive for improved usability and maintainability.”
DENSO WAVE’s need for leading-edge technologies and solutions laid the foundation for its partnership with Trelleborg. In demanding industrial environments, DENSO
WAVE’s 6-axis robots must be impervious to elements that might degrade their operational efficiency. Trelleborg’s sealing technology provides world-class performance in a wide range of environments.
Yoichi Higuchi, Managing Director of Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in Japan, explains that support for the robotics industry is a major focus for Trelleborg in Japan.
“In general, Japan is among the leaders in global robotics development,” he says. “And while the focus of the industry is global, with the Olympics to be held in Tokyo
in 2020, and other events such as the Rugby World Cup before then, there is a strong feeling in Japan right now that the country has a unique opportunity to develop and showcase its technological ability.”
Higuchi continues, “In Japan there are many companies that can supply technologically sophisticated products, and in that environment, price becomes the main differentiator. Our relationship with DENSO WAVE is much more solutionsfocused, which is the way DENSO WAVE works with its own customers globally. DENSO WAVE is always looking for a very high-quality – and often, mission-critical – solution, and our ability to collaborate closely with them to find the best result, appropriate to a wide range of customers and applications worldwide, is our main strength.”
Kojima adds, “Our relationship is extremely collaborative; we are not simply asking Trelleborg to supply to our specification. In developing unique solutions for our
customers, we rely on our partners to tell us what is possible and what is not possible, while at the same time striving to continually improve our specifications.”
Higuchi says the growth potential of the robotics industry appears unlimited. “Since the start of factory automation, robotics manufacturing has grown steadily
but not spectacularly,” he says. “Today the situation is changing. Artificial intelligence and other technologies will greatly expand the ways in which robotics can support manufacturing and operations. It’s an exciting time to be working in this area.”
DENSO WAVE is a subsidiary of automotive components manufacturer DENSO CORPORATION, which is headquartered in Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
Spun off from TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION in 1949 and still 25 percent owned by the auto manufacturer, DENSO CORPORATION employs more than 130,000 people across nearly 200 subsidiary companies globally. In addition to industrial robots, DENSO WAVE manufactures automatic identification products (bar-code readers and related products) and programmable logic controllers. The company is noted for having invented the two-dimensional QR code.