Partner of the Month - Keyence

IRIS Factory Automation & Keyence

Who is Keyence and what are they doing differently than the rest of the market?

Keyence is a supplier of factory automation controls and equipment. We have a large range of products and product experts in each of these product lineups. One thing we do differently than suppliers in the market is that we are direct to customers. We do not go through distribution. This gives us an advantage in a couple of different areas for both our builders and the factory floors. Because we’re direct, we’re interfacing directly with the customer, so we are able to understand the customer's needs a lot more efficiently and faster than going through a partner or distributor. We can produce and innovate the next wave of products based on that direct relationship with our customers. We know exactly what they say they need, we can get that information directly from them, and that’s why we are so innovative, including being featured in Forbes’ most innovative companies in the world.

How big is Keyence?

We are a global company based in Osaka, Japan. Just in the United States alone, we are approaching 40 sales offices and about 1,000 sales engineers.

What has changed in the world of safety that you’ve seen at Keyence?

Generally speaking, people just want safety to be easier and don’t want to have to deal with it. It’s a product or device that goes on the machine. Sensors are not like a camera or measurement devices, performing quality control inspections or making the machine run, it’s something that actually stops the machine if someone is in the wrong area, etc. Customers want safety to simply work and not have to deal with it. Some things that have changed on the device level when it comes to safety are easier ways to install and integrate more environmental ease-of-use (dusty dirty environments) but still work efficiently without causing downtimes. There have been innovations when it comes to this such as going longer between cleanings, for example. Overall, I think customers want something that is simple and easy to install, they don’t want to have to troubleshoot it often, and if they do there are clear troubleshooting steps. Keyence has done this very well to allow the customer to focus on higher-level tasks.

What is the most interesting way you’ve seen safety sensors applied?

I think one trend in safety that is really interesting is the use of safety in more collaborative environments. For example, collaborative robots work in a way where an operator needs to be standing near the system, working collaboratively together. The safety scanner allows that to work seamlessly. The logic of it is very simple and is easily demonstrated by the influx of case studies demonstrating an operator working adjacent to a robot without perceived concern, knowing he or she is going to be safe.

What is your favorite thing about working at Keyence?

I’ve worked for Keyence for 11 years and have enjoyed it. It’s fun to know that
I have a very good product, and that makes the job fun. The people I work for and with have been great, and Keyence has a lot of awesome systems in place that automate the sales job, so I have great customer support and customer management. Response times for customers are always fast, and we’ve also been able to weather the supply chain very well. For all of those reasons I really enjoy working at Keyence. I think we do a good job of trying to innovate not only our products but also the buying experience every day as well. 

—> Stay tuned to see how IRIS factory automation works with Keyence with a series of videos to follow! 


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