The Next Generation of Manufacturing as the Key Focus of Japanese Industry - Latest Trends and In-house Practices

[Fujitsu Forum 2016 Event Report]

Fujitsu Forum 2016 was held for two days on May 19 and 20, 2016 at the Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho, Tokyo. On May 19, a conference was held entitled "The Next Generation of Manufacturing as the Key Focus of Japanese Industry - Latest Trends and In-house Practices." In the conference, Keita Kawamori, Deputy Director of Manufacturing Industries at the Policy Office of METI, talked about the "direction of the manufacturing industry and national policy for the IoT society" while Seiji Miyoshi, the Head of Technology & Manufacturing at Fujitsu Limited, and Ryuichi Usami, President and Representative Director at Shimane Fujitsu Limited, Hideaki Takahashi, Director and Corporate Senior Executive Vice President at Fujitsu Peripherals Limited introduced the "next generation of manufacturing that Fujitsu practices."

Changes in the Environment Surrounding the Manufacturing Industry Brought by IoT and the Future of Manufacturing

Keita Kawamori
Deputy Director of Manufacturing Industries
Policy Office, METI

Keita Kawamori, Deputy Director of Manufacturing Industries at the Policy Office of METI, gave a presentation under the theme of the "direction of the manufacturing industry and national policy for the IoT society."
First, Mr. Kawamori explained the changes in the environment surrounding the Japanese manufacturing industry as follows: "The manufacturing industry's contribution to the GDP has declined from its 1997 peak (of around 114 trillion yen), and in recent years it has hovered around 90 trillion yen. In particular, the rate of decline for electrical machinery is high." He emphasized that "Japanese industry has not properly responded to the changes in the environment surrounding manufacturing," citing this as one cause of the decline in electrical machinery. He noted: "IoT and AI may be major factors behind significant environmental changes, so the Japanese manufacturing industry must respond firmly to these changes."

It is not just Japan where the environment surrounding the manufacturing industry has changed significantly. Citing examples in the US and Germany, Mr. Kawamori continued: "The US uses service data, such as operation and maintenance data, to improve manufacturing, and Germany uses manufacturing data to improve services. Although they have opposite vectors, both place importance on services while focusing on what users want. The Japanese manufacturing industry must also adopt such a perspective and successfully compete internationally by leveraging its specialty fields."

Next, he talked about what companies can actually do now using IoT: "It is important to focus on specific areas, such as visualization and efficiency improvements at production sites; however, today an increasing number of companies are focusing more on using a variety of types of data by transcending the boundaries between areas to create new businesses. Companies that take advantage of open innovation across departmental and corporate boundaries can effectively share data with other industries and companies as well as improve their competitiveness."
Then, he explained the current status of IoT deployment by companies based on the results of a survey of about 20,000 companies in the Japanese manufacturing sector: "Some major companies have already applied IoT in the areas of visualization of production processes and so forth, but IoT has yet to be deployed in the areas of operation and maintenance."

Given this situation, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established the Robot Revolution Initiative (RRI) Council in May 2015 and set up a public-private sector working group on reforming business models through the use of robots and IoT. METI plans to establish support bases for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to introduce IoT. Also, METI's IoT Promotion Laboratory provides matching support for new business creation across industries. Thus, he introduced METI's various activities aimed toward the realization and practice of next-generation manufacturing.
Mr. Kawamori concluded his presentation by referring to the joint statement on IoT/Industry 4.0 co-signed by METI and the German Federal Ministry of Economics Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and remarking about expanded international collaboration in the future.

Fujitsu's In-house Manufacturing Practices Using Big Data, IoT, and Robots

The Next Generation of Manufacturing Practiced by Fujitsu

The latter half of the conference concerned Fujitsu's in-house practices. First, Seiji Miyoshi, Head of Technology & Manufacturing at Fujitsu, introduced the "next generation of manufacturing practiced by Fujitsu."
Miyoshi explained the Fujitsu Production System (FJPS), Fujitsu's smart manufacturing concept: "By promoting digitization using IoT, product development can be optimized at development sites and supply chain management (SCM) can be optimized at production sites, which facilitates efficient manufacturing while ensuring appropriate quality."

Next, as a practical manufacturing solution, he introduced a robot system integration service. Miyoshi described its defining characteristic as the way that experts provide on-site support for robot installation using the technologies that Fujitsu has developed through its in-house practices.

Innovation in Manufacturing of Ubiquitous Client Products

Next to the podium was Ryuichi Usami, President and Representative Director of Shimane Fujitsu Limited, who gave a talk under the theme of "innovation in manufacturing of ubiquitous client products" and introduced activities at an actual manufacturing site.
Shimane Fujitsu engages in integrated manufacturing of notebook PCs in Japan. As its practical manufacturing activities, President Usami talked about how the company uses collaborative development and simulations to carry out practical manufacturing activities: "For example, Shimane Fujitsu has improved efficiency by standardizing parts and promoting automation in collaboration with the Design & Development Department of Fujitsu Laboratories in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture."
With regard to simulations, he explained that the company uses the Global Protocol for Manufacturing (GP4) to enable production-line simulations.

GP4 verifies production lines where operators and machines work side-by-side by simulating the layouts of work stations and equipment.

Usami also introduced some practical improvements at Shimane Fujitsu: parts picking that used to involve manual procedures and consumed about 10,000 sheets of paper per day has now become paperless, and the number of picking errors has also been reduced by introducing RFID and tablets. Combining these improvements with GP4 allows the company to design the optimal movement lines for operators.

A Manufacturing Process Revolution Using Automated Machines and IoT to Double Productivity

Hideaki Takahashi, SEVP of Fujitsu Peripherals Limited and the last presenter at the conference, spoke under the theme of a "manufacturing process revolution using automated machines and IoT to double productivity" and introduced Fujitsu's in-house practices. Fujitsu Peripherals Limited mainly handles mobile personal products as well as proprietary business and ODM products. The company develops and manufactures a wide variety of made-in-Japan products, including consumer products and mission-critical system products. Takahashi described what distinguishes the company as follows: "Fujitsu Peripherals Limited is a manufacturer that actively works on automation and robotization with its wealth of development technologies in the mechanical, electronic, and software fields."

As achievements in practical automation, he presented cases in which productivity had been doubled by automating an entire production line and in which ROI was improved by establishing an automated production line with Virtual Product / Factory using 3D CAD before prototyping.

Takahashi also introduced the company's efforts to apply automation still more, such as using IoT to optimize shelf arrangements and flow lines for warehousing and distribution operations as well as using big data stored in real time in automated machines in order to analyze trends in imported parts having varying levels of quality and to reflect the results in processes in a timely manner.

Takahashi concluded his presentation as follows: "From consulting to field support, we will continue to support customers' automation efforts with our services based on the experience we have acquired through these practices."

  • Keita Kawamori Deputy Director of Manufacturing Industries
    Policy Office, METI

  • Seiji Miyoshi Head of Technology & Manufacturing
    Fujitsu Limited

  • Ryuichi Usami President and Representative Director
    Shimane Fujitsu Limited

  • Hideaki Takahashi SEVP, Fujitsu Peripherals Limited

Experiencing Next-Generation Manufacturing in the Exhibition Area

At the manufacturing booth in the Fujitsu Forum 2016 exhibition area, visitors experienced cutting-edge manufacturing solutions, including those introduced at this conference.

Taking the development of a cooling device as an example, the "Human Centric Virtual Workspace Created with ICT" enabled visitors to experience stereoscopic review images of existing products and "Space UI," which enables users to freely display designs and review information on the surfaces of tables or walls. Using Space UI, users can write comments by hand on digital sticky notes displayed on desks and visually display the results from cloud-based analysis software, which is effective for sharing issues during design review and facilitating quick decision making.

Wearing special glasses, visitors can view products stereoscopically as if the products were near at hand. Visitors can see the sizes of products and determine how to attach or remove parts as if the products were real.

Handwritten sticky notes that can be freely moved about the desk attracted visitors' interest.

"Optimizing All Factory Operations" showcased the Intelligent Dashboard, which visualizes all factory operations using IoT, as well as a dashboard that displays worker conditions, statuses, and locations via sensing technology using the UBIQUITOUSWARE IoT Solution.

This dashboard facilitates total factory optimization using IoT.


There was also a demonstration of the FUJITSU Cloud Service IoT Platform, which monitors factory status using AI and resolves problems through dialogues by identifying situations and causes.

In the "Manufacturing Process Revolution Using Automated Machines and Robots" area, visitors watched Fujitsu Virtual Factory Tour videos featuring the companies Fujitsu Isotec, Fujitsu Peripherals, and Shimane Fujitsu.

Fujitsu Virtual Factory Tour

In addition, there were a variety of other demonstrations, including on line optimization, the use of robots and automated machines in assembly and inspection processes, control of two single-armed robots as one two-armed robot, parts picking using RFID, automatic insertion of cushioning materials by automated machines, and visualization of workers' flow lines within warehouses. Fujitsu will continue to support manufacturing in Japan using the technologies of AI and IoT.