Special | Report
Smart Factory
Smart Factory Starts to Roll in Manufacturing Field
Major equipment companies have installed their smart factory systems and started operation as industrial internet of things and machine-to-machine production goes mainstream.

owadays, industries are undergoing major innovations. Starting with Industry 4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution advocated by Germany, the manufacturing industry’s interest in internet of things (IoT)- and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled production system has been increasing. Smart factory, which has been advocated by mounter and manufacturing equipment manufacturers, are being installed widely. Most industry professional recognize this year as the first year of the proliferation of smart factory.

Consumers’ preferences have become increasingly diversified, and the life cycle of consumer products has become shorter, necessitating immediate start of low-volume production of variable product items. In addition, with the increasing integration of electronic components in vehicles and the advancement of autonomous driving technology, further advancement of production technology is required. Moreover, labor shortage is also becoming an issue as the surge of manpower of conventional production has become difficult.

Production styles have become diversified, requiring innovations in manufacturing technology and manufacturing equipment, including variable-mix, variable-volume production.

Industrial IoT (IIoT), which brings about production innovation by connecting tangible things and intangible things through the wide use of evolving internet technology, is attracting global attention.

Full capacity of production line can be unleashed through connection of machines via local area network (LAN), exchange of digitized production data [machine-to-machine (M2M)], and storage and processing of data on cloud or edge at the production site. Thus, IIoT enables smooth management from the preparation of processes for next production plan and arrangement for shipments.

This year is dubbed the First Year of Smart Factory.
Photo 1: This year is dubbed the First Year of Smart Factory.
Examples of Installation of Smart Factory

IIoT, which has been advocated by manufacturing equipment and factory automation (FA) equipment manufacturers over these several years, has begun to spread on full scale.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has been promoting eF@ctory integrated production system, which merges FA and IT. The company has installed eF@actory at Nagoya Works in Aichi Prefecture in Japan, and has been operating it as a model factory.

Yaskawa Electric Corporation has established Yaskawa Solution Factory, a state-of-the-art next-generation production factory, at Iruma Plant (Saitama Prefecture). It produces the Σ-7 Series AC servo drives, which are the main models of the company’s motion control business. The company has commenced full-scale operation of the factory.

Hitachi, Ltd. has installed and is operating a high-efficiency production model, which supports variable-mix, variable-volume production by using IoT, at Omika Works in Ibaragi Prefecture in Japan.

JUKI Corporation has reported results on its smart factory, following its installation and verification at JUKI Industrial Equipment Technology Co., Ltd., its production subsidiary in Akita Prefecture.

Irrespective of overall optimization or partial optimization, cases of the installation of IIoT have been expanding across Japan, and furthermore overseas.

Smart Factory Continues Evolving

Smart factory promoted by chip mounter manufacturers has been continuing to evolve. In addition to enrichment of hardware that realizes smartification, encompassing mounters and pre- and post-processes, including components warehouses and insertion machines for odd-formed components, the advancement of implemented software has also been accelerated in line with requirements of the production site.

FUJI Corporation has expanded the functions of Nexim integrated production system, which forms the base of FUJI Smart Factory, in which IoT and M2M are used. Now, Nexim can create data necessary for the start of the production of multiple product items and production plans, has a scheduling function for the entire mounting process, prepares necessary components, and estimates the predicted production completion time on the production line with high accuracy. The scheduler function accurately simulates the numbers of necessary components and supply timings through linkage with a component management system. It has been improved to easily output production plan, taking into consideration components supply, which is difficult to do manually, and setup changeover time.

As a solution for the entire manufacturing process that realizes smart factory, Panasonic Corporation provides iLNB integrated line management system, which is based on PanaCIM-EE integrated production management software [manufacturing execution system (MES)] and makes use of IoT and M2M.

In Oct. 2018, Panasonic started accepting orders for PanaCIM-EE Gen2, which features expanded functions of MES software PanaCIM-EE, which tracks the status of each process on the mounting line and supports the operator. PanaCIM-EE Gen2 can collect, analyze, and control information for each line in real time, including other company’s equipment, on a single personal computer.

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. proposes Intelligent Factory, an integrated system using IoT and M2M with a mounting line at the core. Functions, such as programming and scheduling, and production assistance, are made available in package software, allowing users to select necessary functions from each package and introduce them in stages in accordance with investment scale.

Panasonic's PanaCIM-EE Gen2 can collect
Fig. 1: Panasonic’s PanaCIM-EE Gen2 can collect, analyze and control information for each line in real time, including other company’s equipment, on a single personal computer (Source: Panasonic Corporation).

JUKI Corporation has been globally promoting the proposal of JUKI Smart Solution, which is based on JaNets core software for SMT Total System.

In collaboration with Hitachi, Ltd., JUKI has newly developed Printed Circuit Board Production Optimization Solution, which optimizes variable-mix, variable-volume production by further advancing Juki Advanced Network system (JaNets).