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Anjani Trivedi

Are Robots All Hype? One Company May Have the Answer

Japanese motor maker Nidec, a bellwether for manufacturing trends, has been investing heavily in automation. 

Shigenobu Nagamori, Nidec’s founder, has a good track record of predicting business trends.

Shigenobu Nagamori, Nidec’s founder, has a good track record of predicting business trends.

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Will robots run the factories of the world? There may be clues in Japan.

Tokyo-listed Nidec Corp. makes motors of all sizes that show up in just about everything: your car, your washing machine, even hard-disk drives from back in the day. The company was founded in 1973 by Shigenobu Nagamori, an acquisitive and ambitious Japanese billionaire who counts Masayoshi Son, SoftBank Group Corp.’s chief, among his inner circle.