Pursuing Customer Satisfaction
Epson undertakes various activities to provide our customers with satisfaction that exceeds their expectations through our products, services, production and sales. This is a representative example of Epson's activities.
Innovating Manufacturing with New Force Sensors
In creating labels for displaying products to their best advantage, there is a need to be able to design color labels with photographs and text for each product, and print them attractively at high speed, on demand. On learning of this customer requirement, Epson developed the TM-C7500 color label printer.Manufacturers, faced with labor shortages and a need to increase productivity, are rapidly automating their assembly processes with robots. However, there are still many difficult, precision tasks that rely on human sensory perception and skilled workers due to task complexity, the fragility of components, and the need for fine adjustments. Epson is making it possible to automate even these challenging tasks with a new series of S250 robotic force sensors.
Force sensors sense the direction and magnitude of force applied to a robot end-effector to precisely control robot movements. Robots that have the ability to sense force can be used to perform tasks that once relied on humans.
Epson visited dozens of companies that use its robots to identify customer needs. What we found was that users wanted to automate even some of the most complex and delicate tasks. The majority of force sensors on the market have a flexible component that elastically deforms when a force is applied to an object. Force is measured based on the degree of deformation of this component, so the sensor has to readily deform for the sensor to have a practicable level of sensitivity. The problem with sensors that readily deform under light pressure, however, is that the position of the robot end-effector, which is attached forward of the force sensor, becomes unstable. Conversely, sensors that do not readily deform typically have low sensitivity and are unable to accurately measure small forces. For this reason, manufacturers have been unable to automate precision tasks that require high end-effector positional accuracy and the ability to measure very small forces, such as tasks that require fragile components to be inserted in confined spaces. Solving this problem required the development of a new force sensor with conflicting properties: minimal deformation and high sensitivity.
Epson used its expertise in crystal devices, which deform very little but can still detect extremely small changes in pressure, to develop the S250 series of force sensors. These force sensors are far more sensitive than other force sensors despite extremely low deformation.
The S250 series of force sensors enable robots to perform difficult-to-automate tasks that in the past have always relied on humans. Examples include:
- High-precision assembly of fragile parts, such as tiny electronic components with bendable pins.
- Advanced insertion tasks in extremely narrow spaces, such as the insertion of precision components and automotive parts.
- Deburring, sanding, polishing and other finishing tasks that require delicate force control.
Epon was uniquely positioned to develop S250 series of force sensors because it designs and manufactures crystal elements, has material analysis capabilities, and uses robots on its own manufacturing lines. Epson will continue to drive innovation in manufacturing by providing customers with smaller, lighter solutions with enhanced usability that allow users to more easily automate tasks of all kinds.
The TM-C7500 Revolutionizes the Printing Environment
In creating labels for displaying products to their best advantage, there is a need to be able to design color labels with photographs and text for each product, and print them attractively at high speed, on demand. On learning of this customer requirement, Epson developed the TM-C7500 color label printer.
First, we sought to learn how businesses make and use labels, and ascertained what difficulties they encountered. For example, when making GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals) for chemical containers, we discovered that customers followed a two-step procedure.
First they would ask an external printing contractor to make several varieties of preprinted labels showing the company logo and the red diamond for the picture symbol, in the places designated in the GHS standard.
Then, using their own barcode label software, they would print barcodes, product information, and picture symbols for each chemical on the preprinted labels using a monochrome thermal label printer. As a result, we discovered that customers faced the following issues.
- It was necessary to prepare several varieties of preprinted labels for the different types of chemical. Also, the printing contractors imposed minimum print runs, resulting in inventory management headaches.
- The cost of disposing of labels that became obsolete through design changes.
- Printing the barcodes took time.
In order to solve these problems faced by customers, the product plan for the TM-C7500 was developed with a focus on achieving color, high speed and high resolution, and the ability to move to an environment enabling smooth, on-demand color label printing leveraging customers' existing label printing environments.
- To achieve color, high speed and high resolution, the printer is equipped with PrecisionCore lineheads with print speeds of up to 300 mm per second.
- The internal memory of the printer comes with a stock of images. Equipping the printer with a function for combining this image data with the text and other print information sent from the barcode label software significantly reduces the volume of data sent from the barcode label software. This substantially cuts down the waiting time while data is being sent and read.
- In order to leverage customers' existing label printing environments, the printer is equipped with ZPLII commands which are standard in the monochrome thermal label printing environments, and ESC/Label commands including Epson's proprietary commands for achieving color printing with an inkjet.
- By working with companies that produce three types of barcode label printing software popular with customers, we incorporated the three types of software in the TM-C7500 native driver to achieve an environment that enables on-demand color label printing without customers having to change their systems.
The printer is highly regarded by customers in the healthcare packaging business who have been able to simplify product identification with highly expressive labels through high-resolution color printing with highly water and alcohol resistant pigment inks. They value the ability to cut costs through on-demand printing, reducing use of preprinted labels, as well as reducing the impact on the environment over the product life cycle.
Epson will continue to revolutionize the world of label printing by delivering label printing environments that meet wider customer needs.
* For more about Epson's initiatives to achieve high-speed, high-resolution printing, see;
Incorporating the Voice of the Customer :Quality Control Improvement in Manufacturing Processes
The role of manufacturing processes is to create products that accurately reflect the voice of the customer captured in product plans and designs. In manufacturing processes, we build products that meet specified quality requirements. We specify a lot of quality controls for product components and processes. Quality control engineers are sent to manufacturing sites worldwide to introduce quality improvement activities so that we can strictly manage required controls at the sites and assure quality.
For example, to further improve the manufacturing quality of printheads for inkjet printers manufactured at Epson Engineering (Shenzhen) Ltd. (ESL, China), we shared quantitative information that shows the relationship between the work environment (cleanliness) and printhead quality to specify how each manufacturing process should be. We have allowed staff to visualize issues that occur, improved technology and the work environment, and achieved the highest level of quality as a result.
We collaborate with local engineers to solve problems logically, develop the talents of manufacturing professionals, and improve quality at plants around the world.
Providing Easy-to-Follow Video Manuals
To provide Epson printer users with easy-to-understand guides for using their products, Epson in Japan began, in November 2013, uploading PC- and smartphone-accessible video manuals to video-sharing website YouTube™.
Epson has found, however, that some things that cannot be completely explained in a paper manual can sometimes concern customers. First-time printer users are not the only ones susceptible. Even experienced users who are used to operating earlier Epson printers or printers from other companies can get stuck even after reading the manual because of difficulty in intuiting or imaging new operating procedures. The first aim of a video manual is to provide users with a vicarious experience. Users who first watch operations being performed in a video are likely to have an easier time understanding paper manuals.
You can access the Epson Video Manuals channel at the following link: