Epson launched sales of high-capacity ink tank printers in emerging markets to meet the need in these markets for low-cost prints with genuine Epson print quality. The company progressively rolled out sales and today also sells these printers in Western Europe and the U.S. Unit shipments in the 2014 fiscal year (ended March 31, 2015) were strong, showing 40% year-on-year growth, and the company foresees even higher demand in the home and office markets.
The popularity of Epson's high-capacity ink tank printers is fueling demand for large ink bottles, which are used for ink refills. An Epson manufacturing affiliate in Indonesia is supporting this supply by increasing ink bottle production so that customers never have to worry about running out of ink.
Producing ink bottles of stable quality at high speed requires automated solutions. Foreign-owned companies in Indonesia usually bring in people from outside Indonesia to automate their factories. The automation effort at Epson's ink bottle production site in Indonesia, however, is being led by local employees who know the local manufacturing processes and situation best. Having local personnel intimately involved in automating processes is an advantage because it allows us to continuously improve production lines and to strengthen our long-term manufacturing capabilities.
Local employees began working with machine tools in around 2010 and have gradually accumulated knowledge and expertise in production automation. This proved to be a boon to ink bottle production, where they succeeded in sharply increasing productivity by closely observing line operations and then automating tasks. Among the many tasks they automated were the weighing of ink, the attachment of ID labels to ensure traceability, and the bottle capping process.
Epson has programs in place to develop the technical skills and deepen the manufacturing acumen of employees. Among these are skills certification programs and a training program in which Indonesian employees are sent for an extended period of time to train at Epson's ink cartridge development and production sites in Japan. These programs have also enabled Epson's local employees to contribute in various ways to the development of human capital in Indonesia. For example, as workplace leaders they provide technical instruction and mentorship to others. They have also taken charge of educating interns from technical high schools. Some have even served, at the request of the Indonesian government, as judges at technical skills competitions for high school students. Programs such as these that promote the development of local employees are demonstrably strengthening manufacturing capabilities and will lead to improved productivity in the future.
Says the leader of the local production engineering team, "I am proud to be of service to our customers around the world by designing and building sophisticated automated systems that raise productivity. Going forward, I will strive to continue to improve our production processes, develop our younger people, and raise the technical skills of the team with the ultimate objective of providing our customers with a stable supply of high quality products into the future."
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Source: Epson Innovations
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