Since its launch in 1994, Sony’s PlayStation game console has sold hundreds of millions of units worldwide. But only a few people know how this success has come from a factory in their bay area of Tokyo.
On the outskirts of Kisarazu, an office building with a tall tower stands out in the landscape of the suburbs. But when inside, visitors will be greeted by the screech of the engines of dozens of different robots assembling PlayStation 4 gaming consoles.
The Kisarazu factory is the factory that produced the PlayStation from the first version in 1994 so far.
The whole factory only had a few people in it to do some unimportant things – two to put the circuit boards into the production line and two to pack the complete gaming console.
But all the remaining work in this assembly plant is done by robots provided by Mitsubishi. Completed in 2018, the 31.4-meter-long production line can now assemble a PlayStation 4 every 30 seconds.
This Kisarazu plant is operated by Sony Global Manufacturing $ Operations, or SGMO, the Sony group’s production division. It works with Sony Interactive Entertainment to develop the most advanced technologies on this production facility.
8 memory chips surrounding the main processor chip on PlayStation 4.
One of the factory’s outstanding accomplishments is the use of robots to attach wires, ribbons and other flexible components to game consoles. Up to 26 of the 32 robots at the Kisarazu factory are dedicated to this mission, a job that requires ingenious skills that most robots will find too difficult to do.
For example, to attach a flat and flexible cable, like a tape, to the game board, one robot arm will be needed to hold the cable and another to twist it. The cable will then need to be mounted in a certain direction with moderate force – a simple thing for humans but extremely complicated for robots.
The robot fingers cleverly attach the wires to other flexible components.
“Perhaps no other factory can be controlled by robots in the same way, “an engineer said. Every stage – except the stage of putting the circuit board and packaging the finished product – is automated. The mix of people and machines is meticulously optimized with the Firstly, return the investment capital to the company.
“I have created a profitable production line“The general architect of SGMO, Mr. Hiroyuki Kusakabe said.
A robotic arm grabs a PS4 from the production line to take to the test area.
The origins of this highly automated production came from the launch of the first PlayStation in 1994. Mr. Teiyu Goto, the designer of this first console, always focused. into creating a game console that could easily be mass produced.
Therefore, Mr. Goto always urges the engineers at Kisarazu plant to improve productivity. The manufacturing technology is always refined to be then transferred to other production contractors.
When a console nears its end of life, this device version will fall victim to sales decline and competition in the market. Therefore, the fact that production lines can continue to be profitable is due to continuous improvements in production activities.
Every 30 seconds, a completely assembled PS4 comes out.
The PlayStation 4, released in November 2013, has sold more than 100 million units throughout its life cycle. The network of paying subscribers is over 41.5 million.
In those years, the console brought in 10,000 billion yen (about 93 billion USD) in revenue and 1,000 billion yen (9.3 billion USD) in revenue. These numbers underpin Sony’s structural reforms initiated by Mr. Kazuo Hirai, who served as president and CEO of the group from 2012 to 2018. This console now plays the central role of a new Sony, along with movies, music and more.
Even so, there is no guarantee of future console success. Previously, although the PS2 was a hit on the market when it was launched in 2000, when the PS3 launched, it was lost to rival Microsoft Xbox.
Moreover, the pressure on these gaming consoles is now bigger than before. Unlike the past, Sony Group’s next decade will depend on how well the PS5 will be marketed when it launches during the holiday season.
See the Nikkei Asian Review