Fujitsu's largest event, Fujitsu Forum Tokyo, was held on Thursday May 14 and Friday May 15, 2015 at the Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho. One of the special seminars held during the event investigated business innovation through co-creation with customers and was highlighted by specific examples relating to the IoT (Internet of Things) from RT.WORKS co., ltd. RT.WORKS is a product and service developer that uses robot technology to assist both individuals and society.
Keys to IoT-driven Business Innovation: Corporate Partnerships and Data Integration
We are in the IoT era; everything and everyone is connected on the Internet, and new value and business is generated from the huge volumes of data being collected. By 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, over 50 billion sensors and devices are expected to be connected together over the Internet.
At the beginning of the seminar, Takaaki Suga, Head of the IoT Business Division at Fujitsu Limited, noted that Japan's IoT market was predicted to dramatically grow. "Three types of innovation triggered by the IoT is contributing to high market growth," stated Suga. As he listed these three innovations in the areas of "corporate activity," "corporate collaboration," and "data integration," he announced the company's future direction, "The faster we can propose how new value is generated for customers through these three innovations, the harder it becomes for competitors to enter the market. The primary challenge is how fast we can build this model for proposals."
Innovation in On-Site Manufacturing: Improving Productivity with Production Line Visualization
Fujitsu is implementing IoT-based innovation in numerous business fields. Takaaki Suga gave a presentation on the effective use of IoT technology at Fujitsu's Aizu Wakamatsu, Yamanashi, and Shimane Plants, saying that, "Data collected through IoT is analyzed, used to make predictions, and translated into specific actions. Applying this process flow to manufacturing will significantly change the supply chain."
In Aizu Wakamatsu, lettuce is grown in the clean room of a converted semiconductor plant. Production and management are optimized through the effective use of data integrated between primary data from the production site and secondary data from the management and administrative divisions. Data including plant power consumption and production results is also tabulated and collected in Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure. Furthermore, overall factory operation optimization has begun through the centralized management of the data in the Environmental Management Dashboard system running on Azure.
The PC plant in Shimane was used as an example of production line visualization. Specifically it is the 'outside' of the production line that is being visualized. Details of what happened during the production process is visualized when a defective product is returned. The relationship between the production process in question and returned products is analyzed to provide feedback to the plant, thereby decreasing the number of product returns. "Visualization is required not just for the production line, but also for all production operations, including final tests outside the production line and repair processes for rejected products. A huge amount of data is collected at the plant, but it is difficult to manage all of it on a server or in the cloud. A system is therefore used that processes data then and there," explained Suga. To be more specific, Fujitsu's cloud and Intel's gateway are linked together for data analysis.
He also mentioned an IoT-based business innovation in the field of logistics. A device installed on a truck collects vehicle and road related data to feedback to the driver as a guide to support safer driving and improved mileage, as well as automatically creating delivery reports for logistics companies to gain an advantage.
IoT-enabled Management of a Motorized Cart Including Parts and the User's Health
Sei Kohno, Chief Executive Officer of RT.WORKS, gave a presentation on an IoT-enabled motorized walker as an example of IoT-based business innovation in the lifestyle industry. A motorized walker named "Assist Cart" helps elderly people safely walk on sloped surfaces without falling. It was developed to enable elderly people to travel around independently, and ensure they can safely and easily participate in a wide variety of social activities.
Fujitsu's IoT platform is also used with the motorized "Assist Carts". It can track a user's location, manage walking data, manage its user's health and send emergency alerts if, for example, the user falls. While the current device features fall prevention and safety monitoring functions, Kohno wishes to expand its features to provide services that further promote social involvement for elderly people.
Kohno also illustrated wider IoT applications with regard to the motorized Assit Cart. IoT can be used to manage the supply chain by giving unique URLs to individual Assist Cart parts and visualizing the process between order placement and the sale of the product to end users. At the same time, it can check the distance traveled by the cart and the remaining battery power. The use of IoT is also spreading to the product management system; for example, it can tell when the battery or other parts need to be replaced.
IoT can be used in customer management, too. For example, a call center can quickly retrieve information on the past usage of a motorized cart including the cart's current status and any faults that have occurred. Kohno described the future direction for IoT saying, "With IoT, we can manage the entire supply chain, including not only support for customers but also products and parts too. We can even involve our parts suppliers in this management scheme. I believe the IoT's framework allows such management to be efficiently achieved."
IoT-Based Business Co-Creation with Customers
Suga reiterated the key points from the seminar commenting that, "Forming partnerships with many vendors leads to the building of a business ecosystem based on a robust IoT platform." In the case of the partnership between Fujitsu and RT.WORKS, a plan starts off small, its business feasibility is tested, and the decision is made as to whether to make the plan into a business or not. To support the business generation process, Fujitsu offers IoT usage proposals comprising models and concepts, infrastructure for business feasibility testing, and commercial infrastructure to support business creation." Through these services, Fujitsu intends to co-create new IoT-based business with our customers"
CEO, RT.WORKS co., ltd.
Head of Office, IoT Business Division, Fujitsu Limited