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Shiseido Deploys Humanoid Robots on Cosmetics Assembly Lines

The process allows for more supple high-mix, low-volume production and to safeguard against a declining workforce.

PARIS — In a move that it’s calling a first among cosmetics companies, Shiseido Co. Ltd. has launched a pilot program that deploys industrial, humanoid robots on assembly lines in one of its factories.

Starting this month in its Kakegawa, Japan-based plant, two humanoid robots — working with one human — assemble parts of various shapes and materials for makeup products. While the person focuses on inspecting minor defects, the robots are involved in procedures that are difficult to automate with traditional machines and industrial robots.

Shiseido explained the collaboration is aimed at safeguarding its future “by providing against changes in the social environment, such as declining workforce.” The company said it aims to establish “a new form of manufacturing that responds to the market changes more swiftly and flexibly.”

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In cosmetics manufacturing, it is key to manage high-mix, low-volume production to meet consumers’ ever-diversifying needs, Shiseido said.

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In light of this, the company has applied for a program led by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, called “FY2016 Demonstration Project for the Introduction of Robots,” and introduced a new manufacturing system in partnership with Glory Ltd., a robot system developer.

Shiseido said it will keep developing the program for effective product manufacturing and reducing the workload of people on site.

The company said it believes that amid growing concerns about Japan’s shrinking workforce, “companies can develop a new manufacturing style in which human capabilities are fully engaged on-site, including cases when one on-site worker is in charge of management, inspection and assessment across multiple production lines.”

“Going forward, Shiseido aims to further advance innovation in technology, enabling robots to team up on more complex, high-dimensional operations by applying artificial intelligence technology,” it continued.

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