The Internet of Things (IoT) is amazing, isn’t it? The things that likely come into most people’s minds at the mention of the IoT are pretty exciting, anyway – smart cars, smart clothing, appliances that talk to each other – it’s glamorous, futuristic-seeming, and overall fantastic. The less glamorous aspects of the Internet of Things, however, are just as important – the average person may not spend a lot of time thinking about how the IoT impacts manufacturing processes, but manufacturing is a great example of the massive changes and improvements smart technology can create.
Information and communication technology company Fujitsu has developed a new IoT solution called the FUJITSU Manufacturing Industry Solution VisuaLine. It’s been in the works for a couple of years; the company began a joint trial initiative in 2014 at the Kutsasu, Japan factory of electronic components manufacturer Omron. According to Fujitsu, manufacturing facilities in Japan consistently review their their production line processes and designs; however, because action is only taken to fix issues like malfunctioning equipment when it stops working, production efficiency and lead times are still affected. VisuaLine, on the other hand, collects log data from every piece of manufacturing equipment used in a particular production process and visualizes the operational status for each product in a variety of formats such as graphs. By comparing these graphs from day to day, users can quickly see if portions of the production process are taking longer than usual, alerting them to potential equipment problems long before the equipment actually stops working or sets off alarms.
The trial at the Omron factory found that VisuaLine improved production efficiency by 30% over six months. Another trial, carried out this year in the SMT process at the Yamanashi Plant of Fujitsu I-Network Systems Limited, found that downtime was reduced by 25%.
Based on the successful results of the trials, Fujitsu is now offering VisuaLine as a solution for manufacturing facilities that want to incorporate IoT capabilities to improve their efficiency. In addition to processing the log data from each piece of equipment and translating it into graph format, VisuaLine also links the information from those graphs to video cameras installed in the facility. Users can click on anomalies in the graph and be shown video footage from that point, allowing them to see what may have caused the anomaly. A comparative visualization function also allows users to compare process goals with actual results to see where improvements can be made, and an equipment visualization function enables users to study the most efficient processes by checking the production line for each product.
It may sound complicated, but VisuaLine is actually very easy to install, as the system utilizes performance data from existing equipment as it is. Facilities that would like to implement the system can start immediately. Starting today in Japan, the system can be licensed for ¥79,000 per month for a basic license, or ¥24,000 per month for an option license. Fujitsu’s goal is to reach 3,000 licenses by fiscal year 2019. If your company is interested in implementing the VisuaLine system or in learning more, you can contact Fujitsu here. Discuss in the Fujitsu forum at 3DPB.com.