TABLE 1 Mechatronics Ratio and Growth Rate

Category of Machinery

Percentage of Mechatronized Machines

Growth of Production 1983/1977

Industrial robots

80

10.67

Machine tools

60

2.52

Bending machinery

30

7.00

Printing and bookbinding machinery

30

2.44

Forging machinery

20

0.76

Sewing machines

20

0.99

Woodworking machinery

10

1.35

Plastics machinery

10

2.18

Food-processing machinery

3

1.71

 

SOURCE: MITI, Vision for Industrial Machinery (Tokyo: 1984), p. 200.

and printing and bookbinding machinery. Those categories of machines that are not yet widely mechatronized are sewing machines, woodworking machinery, plastics-processing machinery, and food-processing machines.

Moreover, we can observe a significant difference in the growth of production between these two categories of machinery, as shown in Table 1. As the table clearly shows, the group with a diffusion rate of mechatronics higher than 30 percent has a higher growth rate. On the other hand, the group with diffusion of less than 30 percent has grown more slowly. Thus there seems to be a positive correlation between the diffusion rate and growth. This indicates the possibility that the group whose growth is stagnant may regain a growth momentum with the introduction of mechatronics technology.

Optoelectronics: An Emerging Capability

In the 1980s, optoelectronics, a marriage of electronics and optics, has been yielding important commercial products such as optical fiber communications systems. It united the electron with the ephemeral photon, the particle of light, to attain greater efficiency in data processing and transmission than electronics can achieve by itself. It is drastically revolutionizing the communications system and is widely expected to form the next generation of information-based technology.

In 1986, Fortune magazine asked 10 scholars, business executives, government officials, and foundation leaders in each field to rank the state of research and development in the United States, Japan, Western Europe, and the USSR on a scale of 1 to 10. The focus of the study were the following four technological fields: (1) computers, chips, and factory automation;



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