In 1955, Fujitsu Ltd approached Seiuemon Inaba, who was then a young engineer, to lead a new subsidiary dedicated to the field of numerical control. This nascent form of automation involved sending instructions encoded into punched or magnetic tape to motors that controlled the movement of tools, effectively creating programmable versions of the lathes, presses, and milling machines. Within three years after spending heavily in R&D, he and his team of 500 employees shipped Fujitsu’s first numerical-control machine to Makino Milling Machine Co. In 1972, the Computing Control Division became independent and FANUC Ltd was established. The next phase of expansion would be computer numerical control, which relied on G-code,a standard programming language. At the time, the 10 largest CNC companies in the world were based in the U.S., however by 1982, FANUC had captured half of the world CNC market.
In 1982, FANUC entered into a joint venture with General Motors Corporation (GM), called GMFanuc Robotics Corporation, to produce and market robots in the United States. The new company was 50 percent owned by each partner and was based in Detroit, with GM providing most of the management and Fanuc the products. In 1987, Fanuc entered into a joint venture with General Electric Company (GE). The two companies formed GE Fanuc Automation to manufacture computerized numerical control (CNC) devices. GE stopped making its own CNC equipment and turned its Charlottesville, Virginia, plant over to the new company which produces Fanuc CNC devices. Fanuc made the German engineering slogan Weniger Teile, which means “fewer parts,” machines with fewer parts are cheaper to produce and easier for automatons to assemble to provide high reliability and lower manufacturing costs.
The company’s clients include numerous U.S. and Japanese automobile and electronics manufacturers. Use of industrial robots has allowed companies like Panasonic in Amagasaki to run factories which produce 2 million television sets a month (mostly high end plasma LCD screens) with just 25 people.
FANUC has over 240 joint ventures subsidiaries, and offices in over 46 countries. It is the largest maker of CNC controls by market share with 65% of the global market. and is the leading global manufacturer of factory automation systems