Green Business

Epson's 10 year plan involves making you more eco-friendly

Epson has a plan. The Japanese giant wants to make your business more sustainable and eco-friendly. It also wants you to do more things with robots.

Speaking at an event in the company’s German offices in Düsseldorf this week, Epson’s Global President Mr Minoru Usui laid out the company’s new 10 year plan, “Epson 25”.

“Our ambitions go beyond the technology that reduces the environmental impact of our products. We want to fundamentally change the behaviour and businesses of our customers by providing products, services, and functions to enable a more efficient office and a better and more sustainable future.”

The four key areas the company plans to focus on in this 10 year plan are Printing, Visual Communications, Robotics, and Microdevices. The company’s goal is to be generating revenues of ¥1,700 billion ($15.6 billion), up from ¥1,000 billion ($9 billion) in 2015.

Since taking on the role of President in 2008, Mr Usui has made sure Epson not only stays innovative, but makes technology that helps contribute to a better world. And a big part of the next 10 years will be making that better world greener. The company seems to have backing from friends in high places. “We need the effort of companies like Epson to push business to be more sustainable,” said Johannes Remmels, Minister for Climate Protection and Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. “IT decision makers have a huge role to play”

Printing green

Printing is a key part of Epson’s plan. Epson’s German office has a bicycle hooked up to a dynamo that is powering one of its printers. A quick, brisk cycle enables you to print out a page, but we’re told a laser printer would take around three to four times the effort to print out the same page. A year’s use of ink using the company’s Replaceable Ink Packs (RIPs) technology is compared to the equivalent in print cartridge; three bags versus a pile of cardboard and plastic easily five feet high.

Paperlab, the office-based paper recycling unit the company announced late last year, is a good example of both Epson’s commitment to the environment and innovation. The device is due to go on sale in Japan later this year, with a wider release due at some point after that. Although currently the Paperlab is very large, the eventual aim to make them small enough to fit next a printer in the office.

Epson also recently announced Print 365, a Managed Print Services aimed at SMBs that also tells you how much energy you’re saving compared to the same jobs done on laser-based technology. If all the businesses in Germany switched from laser to Business Inkjet printing technology, says Epson’s MD of UK and Ireland, “It could save enough power to run 170,000 homes, reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to 11 million trees, and save 70,000 tons of waste.”

Robots as relief

Another key pillar of the Epson 25 plan is robotics. This week saw the announcement of the company’s latest “Force Sensing” bots; 6-axis arms that that are not only very accurate, but also able to apply variable amounts of force and move very gently when required. Mr Usui said his company wants to make robots that “see and feel like humans do” so that they may “free people from repetitive manual work”.

The new robotics are filled with sensors which mean tasks that previously required human sensory perception - an example I’m told is threading resistors through circuit boards – can now be automated, “significantly improving productivity.”

The force sensor is part of Epson’s plan to “lower the barriers to automation,” according to Mr Usui. In the future, the company has plans to move these robots out of factories and into the home, helping the elderly or sick with delicate or fiddly tasks.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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