Hitachi to Merge Hitachi Automation, Kyoto Robotics

Hitachi Ltd. will merge Hitachi Automation, Ltd. and Kyoto Robotics Corporation on April 1 to strengthen its robotic systems integration (SI) business in Japan and countries in ASEAN. This forms part of efforts to accelerate the global development of its line building business leveraging industrial robots (the robotic SI*1 business). The two companies are under Hitachi’s Industrial Digital Business Unit.

Hitachi Automation began operating within the Industrial Digital Business Unit in April 2022*2. Since then, it has been accelerating the fusion between digital solutions. These solutions analyze and optimize data leveraging Lumada*3 handled by Hitachi and robotic SI, which involves a massive amount of data from the shop floor.

Meanwhile, Kyoto Robotics was founded in 2000 and acquired by Hitachi in April 2021.*4 Since its foundation, it has been developing and providing intelligent robotic vision systems, which do not require teaching*5, and master data*6, which recognize objects with an accuracy of 99.99%*7 using three-dimensional (3D)  vision like humans and think and carry objects using AI control systems.  These solutions were developed aiming for full automation of the manufacturing and logistics field. Due to its high-level technological development capabilities, it has partnerships with a range of robot manufacturers.

Aims for Leadership in Global Robotic SI Business

Following the merger, Hitachi will expand its ability to comprehensively propose solutions to customers to move forward with the automation and digital transformation of manufacturing and logistics. It will combine Hitachi Automation’s front engineering capabilities in its robotic SI business in the fields of manufacturing and logistics; Kyoto Robotics’ differentiating technologies in intelligent robotic vision systems; Hitachi Industrial Digital Business Unit’s digital solutions in the fields of OT*8 and IT; and the development capabilities of Hitachi’s Research & Development Group. At the same time, Hitachi will unite its domestic robotic SI business resources, including the companies’ customer bases, expertise, and human capital to enhance sales and development functions and to increase business efficiency.

Additionally, Hitachi will also strengthen collaboration with JR Automation, which operates its robotic SI business mainly in North America and Europe, and Hitachi Automation. It aims expand its ability to provide full turnkey solutions. Taking advantage of its solution proposal capabilities that combine digital technologies, Hitachi will contribute to solving customers’ issues. In this way, Hitachi aims to become a global leader in the robotic SI business.

*1 SI: Systems Integration

*2News release issued by Hitachi and Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems on January 27, 2022: “Hitachi to Establish Hitachi Automation to Reinforce Robotic SI Business in Japan and ASEAN Countries”

*3Lumada: A collective term for solutions, services and technologies based on Hitachi’s advanced digital technologies for creating value from customers’ data accelerating digital innovation

*4News release issued by Hitachi on April 8, 2021: “Hitachi Acquires Kyoto Robotics, a Start-up Developing Intelligent Robotic Systems”

*5Teaching: Programming the robot so that it can perform the desired movement

*6Master data: Information such as the weight and size of the object to be registered in advance

*7In case of single depalletizing. Capacity measured using boxes selected by Kyoto Robotics in an environment specified by Kyoto Robotics

Background Behind the Merger and the Strategy of the Robotic SI Business

In recent years, in industry, particularly in manufacturing and logistics, demand for automation at the shop floors using robots is increasing. This reflects a labor shortage due to the declining birthrate, aging of the population, and a decrease in the working-age population, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, boundaries between operations, organizations, and companies became obvious. To solve these issues seamlessly and create new value, digital transformation using advanced technology is being accelerated.

Strengthening the structure of the robotic SI business

Hitachi’s Connective Industries Sector focuses on the global development of TOTAL SEAMLESS SOLUTION*9. Specifically, it solves issues existing in boundaries between operations and organizations by leveraging Lumada and Hitachi’s combination of products, OT and IT. Against this backdrop, the need for automation through the use of robots on the shop floor is increasing. Moreover, the field of robotic SI, which involves a huge amount of data, plays an important role in connecting management to the shop floor to achieve comprehensive optimization. In this environment, Hitachi strengthens its global business structure in this field for the last few years. Specifically, Hitachi acquired JR Automation in 2019*10 and Kyoto Robotics in 2021.

Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems Co., Ltd. (“Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems “) acquired KEC Corporation (“KEC”) in 2019.*11 Subsequently, KEC and the robotic SI business of Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems were reorganized and integrated, becoming Hitachi Automation in April 2022. Now, Hitachi decided to merge Hitachi Automation with Kyoto Robotics to increase the competitiveness of the robotic SI business in Japan and ASEAN countries.

Previously, Hitachi acquired U.S.-based Flexware Innovation, Inc*12 which is engaged in a system integration business in the fields of OT and IT in August 2022. It promoted the provision of TOTAL SEAMLESS SOLUTION through the integration of robotic SI and digital technology in North America.

*9TOTAL SEAMLESS SOLUTION is a registered trademark of Hitachi, Ltd. in Japan and U.S.

*10 News release issued by Hitachi on April 24, 2019: “Hitachi Agrees to Acquire JR Automation, a Robotic System Integrator in the U.S.”

*11 News release issued by Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems on March 22, 2019: “Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems Entered into Agreement to Acquire KEC, Robotic System Integrator”

*12 News release issued by Hitachi on September 6, 2022: “Hitachi Acquires Key Industry 4.0 Systems Integrator–Flexware Innovation”