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Fujitsu Ushers in the Next Generation of Manufacturing with Human-Robot Collaboration

Offers a reference model based on the company's own internal implementation

Fujitsu Limited

Tokyo, March 06, 2015

Fujitsu has announced the start of a new initiative to implement a next-generation manufacturing ICT environment in which humans can cooperate at a high level with robots and other machines, and in which all forms of manufacturing data are connected.

Fujitsu already has a track record of developing robotic systems with the autonomous control to flexibly respond to variations in components and automatically generate control programs that quickly respond to process changes. It can also monitor manufacturing facilities using Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology and predict manufacturing quality based on factors that include characteristics of components and humidity. Using its own in-house implementation as a reference model, Fujitsu will begin rolling out new solutions starting in October 2015.

Fujitsu is also working with robot manufacturers to support the deployment of robots, previously used mainly by large-scale business, to small and mid-sized customers as well. To promote these activities, the company is setting up a specialized internal group, the Manufacturing Solution Operations Promotion Office, on April 1, both to enhance its own manufacturing capabilities and to promote these developments to customers in the manufacturing industry.

With this initiative, Fujitsu will promote ICT, automation, and networking among customers in Japan's manufacturing industry to realize continuity of know-how, appropriate quality and shortened development and manufacturing lead times, through which it aims to create new value. Fujitsu will work with numerous companies involved in domestic manufacturing, and will support them by using ICT to realize globally competitive manufacturing.

About Next-Generation Manufacturing ICT

The German concept of "Industrie 4.0," or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, promotes automated and networked production, and by linking various manufacturing-related information and production facilities, shows promise in improving manufacturing and the ability to significantly reduce manufacturing costs.

However, to achieve a sustainable recovery to production in Japan's manufacturing sector, it will be necessary to respond quickly to fluctuations in supply and demand, to cut lead times from development and design to manufacture, to maintain and improve quality, and to bolster Japanese manufacturing to realize international competitiveness. This will require pressing forward on systems that can collect and analyze manufacturing-related data, and that realize collaborative production, at a high-level, between humans and machines. In short, it will be essential to build an era of next generation manufacturing.

While the Japanese government is studying programs to boost Japan's economy and manufacturing competitiveness in ways such as its "New Robot Strategy," Fujitsu is launching its own initiative to help its customers achieve next-generation manufacturing.

About Fujitsu's Initiative

To provide its customers worldwide with a broad range of high-quality products on a tight schedule, Fujitsu has undertaken efforts to further raise the level of its development environment and production techniques. In addition, the company has since 2013 offered customers the group's products and services, derived from the know-how it gained from its own experiences, in a systematic approach called "Monozukuri Solutions," in reference to solutions for manufacturing.

To further strengthen Japanese manufacturing, Fujitsu is now advancing into the next generation of manufacturing, increasingly using the IoT at manufacturing sites and moving forward on linking manufacturing-related data and analysis. In the areas of robotics and control systems, where Fujitsu lacks a presence, it is actively partnering with other companies.

Overview of Next-Generation Manufacturing Environment Support Initiative

1. Providing manufacturing solutions that incorporate the company's internal know-how

Fujitsu has already put into practice smart manufacturing technologies at its own development and production sites, and is taking the next step with the following development technologies.

  • At production plants undergoing changes, bringing autonomous and cooperative-control technologies to robots that learn tasks and make appropriate movements.
  • Using Fujitsu's platform for IoT technology to predict manufacturing quality and to perform real-time tuning of production equipment for predictable quality.
  • Dynamic manufacturing allocation that can reallocate production plans without stopping production lines.
  • Integration of a variety of manufacturing-related data, regardless of it being real (assembly) or virtual (design simulations), using "virtual large-room technology" or other techniques to realize remote communication between people and data.

By using these technologies, Fujitsu aims to achieve efficient manufacturing while controlling quality appropriately. The know-how, tools, and techniques gained in the process will be made steadily available as new solutions to customers starting in October 2015.

2. Allying more closely with robot manufacturers to support factory deployments

The benefits of robotic automation have been held back by the need for specialized technicians and incompatibilities and different standards in the control programming languages used by different robot manufacturers.

Fujitsu is strengthening its alliances throughout the range of robot manufacturers so that different robot control languages will be the same from the perspective of users. This will benefit small and mid-sized businesses as well as large ones by making it easier to deploy robots and automation equipment.

Fujitsu will also be offering system-integration subcontracting services for robot deployments as well as promoting robot deployments.

3. Establishing a new Manufacturing Solution Operations Promotion Office to support the creation of a next-generation manufacturing environment

On April 1, 2015, Fujitsu will establish a new Manufacturing Solution Operations Promotion Office to support the creation of a next-generation manufacturing environment. This organization will develop the company's internal practices into a reference model, smooth the way toward tailoring the reference model into solutions, and provide solutions that will help customers build their own next-generation manufacturing environments.

Examples of anticipated solutions:

  • Using robots to minimize production-plan switchovers and task switchovers
  • Predicting manufacturing quality and real-time tuning of production parameters
  • Data sharing without limitations to space and time by using virtual large-room meetings

About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Approximately 162,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.8 trillion yen (US$46 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2014. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.

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All company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.

Date: 06 March, 2015
City: Tokyo
Company: Fujitsu Limited