OSAKA -- Panasonic will develop factory automation systems with Taiwanese manufacturer Advantech, the latest in the Japanese company's efforts to strengthen business solutions operations.
Advantech provides circuit boards and control systems -- which are the heart of industrial robots -- to semiconductor and electronic parts manufacturers.
Panasonic, on the other hand, is strong in motors -- an expertise cultivated in making refrigerators and other home appliances. For business customers, it supplies such products as servomotors, which are used to position components in manufacturing lines.
The two will combine their expertise to develop control systems that save energy and manpower. The main customers will be electronic parts makers in Taiwan and other parts of Asia.
Panasonic in April moved its motor business unit from its in-house appliance company to the automotive and industrial systems unit -- a step aimed at beefing up factory automation operations.
Panasonic aims to increase sales from business solutions to 2.5 trillion yen ($20.5 billion) in fiscal 2018, up 600 billion yen from fiscal 2014. It is vigorously seeking partnerships in this effort. Last year, it formed a tie-up with Atos of France in security systems, among other fields.
As Chinese and other Asian smartphone makers focus on higher-value handsets, manufacturing processes have become increasingly complex. Demand for factory automation is expected to keep growing, with help from the rise of the Internet of Things. Panasonic hopes that the latest collaboration will add momentum to its business expansion.