Canon to automate plants
Japanese office equipment maker Canon Inc plans to fully automate a quarter of domestic production in order to counter cheap labor in China and other overseas manufacturing centers, a spokesman said yesterday. Canon plans to carry out 25 percent of its domestic production on unmanned lines by the end of 2007, the company spokesman said, adding the Canon group's production in Japan total about ?1 trillion a year (US$9.7 billion). The effort would involve relocating about 5,000 workers to lines harder to automate such as electronics parts for digital cameras, he said, adding that the move would not involve job losses. There is a possibility that Canon will automate all copier-manufacturing lines in the future, he said.
■ Mobile Phones
LG reports record sales
LG Electronics Inc rang up record monthly sales last month after shipping third-generation (3G) mobile phones to Hutchison and Orange, and forecast it would become the top plasma television maker by 2006. The 15 percent rise in sales from September partly reflected the popularity of its mobile phones designs, with features such as swivelling cameras, and its early lead in selling pricey 3G phones to operators such as Hutchison Whampoa and France Telecom's Orange. LG, which is also the world's top maker of air conditioners, recorded sales of 2.35 trillion won (US$2.2 billion) last month. The company, the world's fifth-largest mobile-phone maker, sold 5.09 million phones last month, up 27 percent from September and 68 percent from a year earlier.
■ Mobile Phones
NEC plans system LSI chips
NEC Corp and NEC Electronics Corp will partner to develop parts to be used in cellphones capable of working with existing and next-generation high-speed services, also known as third-generation networks. The companies will jointly develop a semiconductor known as a system LSI, they said yesterday in Tokyo. Handsets equipped with the chip will be able to operate on different cellphone standards used in different parts of the world. NEC Corp is predicting a loss at its handset business this year, partly because of higher-than-expected fees relating to fixing software in phones. The partnership with NEC Electronics is intended to produce a chipset, or group of chips and software, more suited for NEC Corp's most advanced phones, executives said.
IBM, Honeywell sign deal
International Business Machines Corp, the world's largest computer maker, signed a 10-year contract to develop military electronics for Honeywell International Inc. Under the accord, Armonk, New York-based IBM agreed to provide research and development, as well as engineering and manufacturing expertise to Honeywell, which will give IBM access to military and aerospace resources and customers, the companies said in a statement. IBM said the contract may be worth several hundred million dollars. IBM chief executive Officer Sam Palmisano wants to use partnerships with other corporations to capitalize on the company's technologies. Honeywell, which is the world's biggest maker of electronics used in cockpits, said that it will use IBM's resources to make high-speed communications and computer-networking equipment for aircraft, weapons and space and surface vehicles.