Canon shows off innovation at its Newport News facility

Canon shows off innovation at its Newport News facility

Daily Press | June 5, 2019 | By Tara Botizk

Folks driving by Canon Virginia Inc. in Newport News may not realize the company is a manufacturing innovator that works to solve problems for other businesses, a company official said.

When people think of it, they tend to think of cameras and copiers, Canon Virginia executive Thomas Keegan told about 80 attendees of the on-site Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s Spotlight on the Peninsula event May 31.

“We like to think of Canon as a technology company,” he said.

Tokyo-based Canon ranked third worldwide for the number of U.S. patents issued last year, he said. Canon Virginia is a manufacturing, engineering, recycling and technical support arm for the company.

Making custom tools and equipment is a Canon Virginia niche. Company leaders have focused on diversifying through contract manufacturing that has been outsourced and tool manufacturing to support multiple industries, said Keegan, who is the manufacturing engineering group vice president.

The Newport News campus helps industrial partners not only with prototyping and product development, but with figuring out the manufacturing process, according to its website. That includes expertise in using robots, he said, citing the campus’s automated manufacturing of toner cartridges for laser printers.

Canon Virginia is a contract medical device manufacturer and works with medical startups to bring their products to market, Keegan said. Canon Inc. acquired Toshiba Medical Systems Corp., a developer and maker of diagnostic imaging systems, in late 2016 although the company said it first entered the medical equipment business in 1940.

The company also is a big proponent of giving customers prepaid shipping labels online so they can return toner cartridges to its Gloucester facility to be recycled, Keegan said.

Canon Virginia has a zero-landfill policy and can offer help to other businesses on “reverse manufacturing” or repurposing materials.

Since Canon Virginia’s founding in 1985, the company has invested about $900 million in Newport News and Gloucester and has about 1,700 employees in the area, Keegan said. Because of the various skill sets needed, workforce development is a priority.

“We’re constantly training people for their next job here at Canon,” he said.

Master craftsman Brandon Gwathney in camera manufacturing services started working at Canon in 2008 after working as a photographer in the Marines. The Hampton resident trains junior technicians and runs the broadcast and cinema services department.

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