Canon Looks to Save 400 Billion Yen With Help from an Unlikely Ally

By Steve Anderson March 14, 2012

400 billion yen sounds like a pretty big number, and there's no getting around it, it is. It works out to about $4.84 billion US, and that's how much Canon's looking to eliminate from its spending over the course of the next four years.

Staring down the combination of a strengthening yen and a European market that's steadily losing ground, Canon's moving to cut its costs ahead of the impact of this two-pronged attack on the balance sheet. And Canon's primary weapon in its cost-cutting blitz will be a surprising measure indeed: robots.

Canon plans to bring in industrial robots to use in its toner production operations, but Canon's also considering bringing them into play in production of interchangeable lenses on their single-lens-reflex camera line, which isn't a step that Canon had used previously. Canon expects a drag on profits thanks to the strength of the yen against other currencies, but Canon sees a light at the end of the tunnel, looking to lift its sales to fully five trillion yen, a 41 percent hike from the 2011 fiscal year.

Some might call that a little optimistic—some might even call that extremely optimistic—but considering that we're looking three years ahead, it's not out of line to suggest that unexpected things could happen. Forward looking statements are always tough to call wrong, because, simply put, you never can tell just what will happen in the interim.

If the yen softens against other currencies, if the global economy rights itself around, or if other competitors find themselves in worse positions than Canon, the expanded sales Canon projects could be entirely possible. And Canon's dependence on robots to accomplish its cost-cutting plans could end up more trouble than it's worth; in a business environment where layoffs and downsizing are the order of the day, Canon's plans could easily be perceived as a method to make workers obsolete, which won't be well-received by the legions of factory workers and potential camera buyers out there.

The results of Canon's aggressive cost cutting and sales projections remain to be seen, of course, but I look forward to seeing if they can actually pull it off. They've set themselves up for big things, but only time will tell if they end up elated...or disappointed.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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