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Business deals

Omron to buy US bar code reader maker Microscan for around $160m

Deal brings tech to enhance Japanese company's factory automation products

A porter robot zooms through the aisles of an Omron plant.

KYOTO, Japan -- Omron, a Japanese producer of factory automation equipment, will acquire U.S. peer Microscan Systems for roughly 17 billion yen ($156 million) in a bid to capitalize on growing demand for labor-saving production technology.

Microscan holds the third-biggest global market share in 2-D bar code readers, which provide a way of tracking products as they move through increasingly automated factories. The American company also produces bar code verification equipment as well as industrial cameras. Omron aims to purchase by early October all of Microscan from British parent Spectris, a maker of specialty measuring instruments.

Microscan's technology will supplement Kyoto-based Omron's core factory automation business. The Japanese group plans to add readers to the robotic arms it manufactures, enabling the equipment to read data even off elaborately designed components.

Omron also will develop a small, high-precision reader that incorporates technology from Sentech, a Japanese maker of industrial cameras acquired in July.

The Japanese group will use its sales channels to supply Microscan readers in Asia, where the U.S. company has only a slim market share. 

In connected factories, 2-D codes lend to efficient production by giving robots and other equipment instant access to information on a product's components and assembly process. The innovation also gives rise to traceability of products based on the time and place of production, helping pinpoint the source of defects and other problems.

Omron seeks sales of roughly 480 billion yen for its factory control device segment in fiscal 2020, up 40% from fiscal 2016. The company has earmarked 100 billion yen to 200 billion yen for acquisitions through fiscal 2020.

(Nikkei)

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