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Rise of the robots: Automating factories creates $100 billion Japan corporate giant

The Japan Times

It's the rise of the robots: Japan's second-largest company is now a maker of industrial automation systems, highlighting the rising importance of a less visible sector to a nation long associated with consumer-facing brands. Keyence Corp., a maker of machine vision systems and sensors for factories, has jumped 17 percent this year to become Japan's second-largest company by market value. At a valuation of almost ¥11 trillion ($100 billion), it has overtaken telecommunications giants SoftBank Group Corp., and NTT Docomo Inc., which have jostled for the honor to sit behind Toyota Motor Corp. over most of the past decade. Keyence is famed for its dizzying profitability with an operating profit margin of more than 50 percent, among the country's highest. That's enabled by its "fabless" output model, according to analysts, with production of its array of pressure sensors, barcode readers and laser scanners outsourced to avoid high capital costs.