Sony to sell battery manufacturing unit to Murata
The two companies announced that they have entered into a...
Murata Manufacturing looks set to buy the battery manufacturing business of tech giant Sony.
The two companies announced that they have entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding that confirms their intent to negotiate the transfer of the Sony Group's battery business to the Murata Group.
Following due diligence and negotiation of detailed terms and conditions of the transfer, Murata and Sony are aiming to execute binding definitive agreements by the middle of October 2016, and to complete the Transfer by the end of March 2017, subject to required regulatory approvals.
Although the scope of the Transfer remains to be finalised, the parties expect the transfer to include the battery business conducted by Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Sony's wholly-owned subsidiary in Japan; Sony's battery-related manufacturing operations located in China and Singapore; and assets and personnel assigned to the battery business at the Sony Group's sales and R&D sites in Japan and worldwide.
Business operations related to consumer sales of Sony-branded USB batteries, alkaline batteries, button and coin batteries, and mobile projectors, as well as certain other products, are not expected to be included in the Transfer.
The background and aims of the Transfer are as follows:
- Sony has operated its battery business since 1975, and in 1991 commercialized the world's first lithium-ion battery. Until now, Sony has continued to pursue the development and business launch of various advanced battery products, primarily as key components for electronics products. Recently, Sony has focused on enhancing the profitability of its lithium-ion polymer battery business for smartphones, an area where the competitive environment is significantly changing, while it also has shifted its resources to cylindrical lithium ion batteries for power tools and other high-power applications where it possesses significant technological advantages.
- Murata is a global leader in the area of electronic components. To achieve the business goals set out in its "Mid-term Direction 2018" strategy, Murata is engaged in efforts to enhance its competitive edge in the communications market, while also creating new business models and customer value in its focus markets of automotive and healthcare, as well as the energy market. Given these circumstances, Murata was drawn to the technological strengths, and knowledge and experience of international markets of Sony's global battery business. Following the Transfer, Murata intends to position the global battery business as a core operation within its energy business in order to target further business growth and expansion.
- From the perspective of each of their portfolio strategies, and in order to increase the competiveness and ensure the sustained growth of the battery businesses while also continuing to secure appropriate investment to achieve such competitiveness and sustained growth, Murata and Sony determined that it would be mutually beneficial to proceed with negotiations towards the transfer of the technological strengths and business experience Sony has accumulated in the battery business to Murata, and for the business to be operated within the Murata Group.
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Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.