EDGE&LINK Linking people to the future with OMRON’s perspective on cutting edge technology

How automation is driving sustainable growth and healthier lives

This content was paid for and produced by OMRON in partnership with the Commercial Department of the Financial Times.


Omron's innovations in automation and healthcare support ESG efforts across industries and geographies

Society is at a critical juncture, with the severe disruption of lives and economies brought about by climate change, the pandemic, supply chain chaos, worsening inequality and reduced food security. At the same time, a stream of technological advances in fields ranging from biotech to quantum computing promises to meet such challenges.

More than ever, future solutions will be found by matching science to social needs, and by never losing sight of the goal of growth with sustainability. As a company guided by such a vision, Omron is well-placed to play a key role in creating a sustainable world.

Since its founding in 1933, Omron has innovated in how it responds to social needs. The company's original product was a high-precision timer used to limit exposure to radiation from X-ray machines. Its inventions since then have included the automated ticket gate in the 1960s, the ATM in the 1970s and, more recently, the wearable blood-pressure monitor.

With these and other innovations the company has "sought to build a future where the success of society and individual fulfilment are mutually compatible", says Tim Hill, manager of investor relations, Omron Management Center of America, Inc. And Omron is now seeking to spread its message -- and extend its vision -- even further afield.

In March, chief executive Yoshihito Yamada said the company would make a "clear directional shift to become a solutions-driven company", identifying three social issues in which to create value: achieving carbon neutrality, realising a digital society and extending healthy life expectancy. Not only do these areas promise significant social impact, they all benefit from Omron's core competency in automation.


Empowering people through automation

Many companies have adopted Omron's automation solutions across a range of industrial processes. They are used in many industries to maximise throughput and quality, minimise waste and help industry move towards net-zero manufacturing.

"Omron has the broadest portfolio of innovative automation technologies in our industry, which work together in an integrated, intelligent and interactive manner," says Mark Sadie, vice president of marketing, Omron Automation Americas.

"For example, we have an automation platform [Sysmac] that provides comprehensive control for all devices in a machine or work cell, often focused on energy conservation, enhanced machine efficiency, waste reduction and improved quality as part of our commitment to sustainability.

"This controller and all connected devices are programmed from a single software environment that enables an enhanced user experience through simplicity in programming, plug-and-play connectivity and effortless troubleshooting."

Equally significant is how automation improves the safety and wellbeing of workers. "We help provide a safe work environment, empowering people to focus on high-value activities that tap into their intellect and creativity while tackling the dangerous, ergonomically strenuous or monotonous tasks with innovative solutions," says Sadie. "A safe and enjoyable workplace is a critical element of sustainability in our industry."

Designing machines that support people will be invaluable in an automated and sustainable future. According to the World Economic Forum, even as some 85mn jobs are expected to be lost by 2025 as labour shifts from humans to machines, 97mn new roles are expected to emerge in the transformed economy.


Omron aims to accelerate industrial automation in five key industries that have experienced an upshot in demand with the planet's growing and ageing population: semiconductors, electric vehicles, food and household goods, medical devices and logistics.


'Going for Zero' in cardiovascular events

Ensuring better health for all will be vital in the coming world, and Omron is already the leading manufacturer and distributor of personal heart health products, including medical-grade blood pressure monitors (BPMs) for use at home. These devices -- already available in 110 countries, with over 300mn units sold -- have played a part in the prevention of strokes and heart attacks by creating a home diagnostic and contributing to the treatment process.

The company is now building on this foundation with its bold "Going for Zero" campaign that aims to eliminate all cardiovascular events on the planet. Currently, an estimated 1bn adults worldwide have hypertension, and 17.5mn individuals suffer from cardiovascular disease caused by hypertension. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of deaths globally, with serious side effects and severe costs for both individuals and society.

"We aim to realise a society where everyone can receive high quality medical treatment anywhere by building a new preventative medicine framework that can prevent the onset of medical events," says Yamada. To achieve this, Omron aims to develop more devices that measure vital sign data in daily settings, using them to provide remote medical and preventative medicine services.

At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Omron launched its new remote patient monitoring services alongside its connected BPMs and an advanced mobile app. The new services in the US, the UK and Singapore take medical data collected at home and share it with healthcare professionals.

"What differentiates Omron in its healthcare solutions is an understanding of what is required by healthcare providers and taking it to the next level," says Ranndy Kellogg, president and chief executive officer, Omron Healthcare, Inc. "That means accuracy, reliability and ease of use for the providers and their patients, and the relationship between them we help foster."

And with telehealth set to expand after the recent pandemic, the kind of home-monitoring health devices that Omron is developing will become vital tools for physicians to interact with their patients, says Kellogg. "There would be a benefit to every house having a blood pressure monitor in the same way that one has a [weight] scale," he says.


Shaping the future together

In all its initiatives, Omron has promised to make ESG a top priority. It has also made its partnerships with employees, customers, investors and the local communities in which it operates an essential component in its drive to create social value.

"In our next long-term vision, 'Shaping the Future 2030', we will continue to create innovation driven by social needs with automation that empowers people," says Yamada.

As everyone on the planet increasingly faces the challenge of balancing growth and sustainability, companies with a clear commitment to social value will be needed to empower us for the future.