• Proposal2 Recommendation of " Initiative"

    9. From supply chain to engineering chain (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

      Due to the impact of the weak yen by unprecedented level of monetary easing in Japan, it is said that Japanese manufacturing that once went overseas is gradually returning to Japan. In China and in ASEAN countries, labor costs are not as low as before, and this may help to transfer the domestic production system back to home. However, that doesn’t mean that mass-production of low-selling, high-volume products would not be done again in domestic factories.

      Diversification of consumer behaviors, in response to the flow of individualized, in production lines, high-mix low-volume productions, small-lot more and proceed for variant variable productions, in order to respond to intense demand trends of change, product life cycles are becoming shorter and uncertain. It’s not enough to procure the necessary amount of the necessary supplies when one needs them, by the traditional supply chains. In order to cope with such situations, it is necessary to collaborate across the boundaries of companies, including engineering viewpoints, what is essentially necessary and how to make it.

      In the engineering chains, the optimum production method is determined according to the required product shape and characteristics, and a production system for that purpose is designed and prepared. Information exchanged there is product shape and structure data, material and functional property data, production process specifications, quality inspection parameters, equipment operation requirements, test result data, QC process table and FMEA sheet.

      Compared to supply chains, engineering chains were characterized by a long PDCA cycle. In terms of product model changes, new product development, new factory establishments and expansions, it might be said as cycles about several times a year. However, in the world of production products, tailor-made design production has already progressed, and as described above, the frequency of consumer goods is increasing due to the shortening of a product life cycle. There is a need to speed up the engineering chain and to create a new structure with highly added value that makes full use of the ICT that supports it.

      The contribution to the engineering chain brought about by “Connected factories” will be enormous. First, before discussing between factories and companies, we can fundamentally review the engineering chain within the company. For example, suppose you would use a simulation model to analyze a process design for a new product. The models used there are almost always ad hoc. The reality is that at the time of production preparation, it is actually fine-tuned at the production site and further changed by KAIZEN activities (Tuning processes by engineers at the site) after the start of production, but each department in charge uses each data. Since there is no mutual relationship, it is not possible to cooperate. In other words, even within a company, PDCA related to the engineering chain is not connected as data.

      What happens if this in-house engineering chain is connected in terms of data or models? First, when performing simulations using models in process design, it is possible to use existing equipment data and performance data of the past obtained through production management, etc. The reliability of the product itself is greatly increased. In addition, if the model used in a simulation can be used in production management, more detailed and visual production instructions and monitoring will be possible, and real-time feedback to process design may be possible. Then, in the conservation and management, and operational experience and the future of the operation plan of the facility that will be performed by using the actual equipment inspection and actual data cooperation with the maintenance, preventive maintenance, and accuracy of predictive maintenance should increase in the level.

      In this way, by digitizing the engineering chain within a company, it will be possible to further develop cooperation between companies. First, not only engineering data such as CAD data is exchanged between the order side and the contractor side, but also two-way data exchange such as process history data, quality test data, and chemical substance data will be realized.

      n particular, the exchange of equipment data is attracting attentions in IoT applications. On the manufacturer side, the performance data and shape data of equipment and devices that make up the production line are obtained from the supplier. This data is used when creating equipment management and cost control master data, and can also be used in production line design and simulation. On the other hand, suppliers can obtain operational data of equipment and use it for after-sales services such as remote maintenance of equipment.

  • Proposal2 Recommendation of " Initiative"

    10. Integrated model of production technology and production management (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

      There is a need for a structural shift in Japanese manufacturing. The manufacturing industry, which initially consisted of simple acts of buying raw materials, processing them into products, and selling them, gradually became functionally differentiated as its mechanism increased in complexity. The manufacturing seems to have been divided into things and making. I feel that production sites that simply pursue cost and efficiency have become a bit boring and dull. To say abstractly, units that are made with things and making has become organically coupled objects, like amoeba, that is, I wonder if dynamic manufacturing organizations are possible to be established. In order to be a cool production site and to continue to be a brilliant production site from the young people’s point of view, it is needed to be not just “making ” but “things and making ” as one set and to stay together without leaving each other.

      One clue to getting there is proper use of standpoint of making final products and standpoint of creating a “structure” for making the products. There should be ways of manufacturing, such as making production machines and devising the production line system by oneself which have similarity with Karakuri (Traditional handmade methods). The functions such as process design, production technology, and production preparation as shown by the JSME-MSD model are established with people at the center, and they are being integrated with production sites to reconstruct a brilliant site.

      Another effective aspect is digitalization of manufacturing sites with ICT. The world of manufacturing is similar to the world of Atoms, and on the contrary, the world of information is said to be the world of Bits. Both worlds are based on different principles. It is the world of Atoms when actual processes on things are being done at the factory. The world of logistics for delivering products from factories to consumers is also the world of Atoms governed by physical laws. On the other hand, the world of bits of information is not governed by physical laws. Information can be replicated indefinitely, and it can move through the space at once. In a cyber-physical world where Bits and Atoms are fused, things that couldn’t be imagined currently may become possible.

      The argument here is who will take the lead in such a world, that is, who will take the initiative. Western companies are completely ahead of ICT currently, and Japanese companies are busy catching up with them. On the other hand, Japanese companies have superiority in the world of manufacturing. In other words, companies who could lead in the ICT and manufacturing integration area could be Japanese companies. That is to say, the Bits side is quicker to understand the world of the atom, or the Atoms side is faster to proceed than the Bits side.

      For the factory side, that is, the Atoms side, the Bits world, that is, the ICT world, is already a familiar area in terms of utilization of information systems. However, the fear of the ICT world is that it works only when it is connected to counterparts. For example, a telephone does not have a conversation unless the other one is using the same protocol. Due to the nature of network externality, the more connected partners, the higher the utility value of the product. In addition, since the replication cost of digital data and programs can approach to zero, it is necessary to understand the relationship between manufacturing costs and sales prices with a completely different idea from the current understandings. Furthermore, intellectual property management is extremely important to manage the asset value of the ICT developed.

      This intellectual property management technique is closely related to building an “ecosystem”. As products are unable to function on their own operation and are positioned as one part of a large system clearly, products will not spread in the market unless publishing some of their internal mechanisms. This trend has become increasingly prominent as the ability of connecting is gradually shifting its weight from hardware to software.

      A factory, as products can, can show its performance only when connected to other factories. If a factory does not connect, expensive equipment and machinery in the factory won’t work well. Much of the connection between connected factories is information and software in a broad sense. In engineering chains such as design process and maintenance process as well as in supply chains, digitalization will continue to develop in the future, and further tactics regarding “Connected factories” will become stronger8).

      In a world dominated by network externalities, the predecessors will gain enormous profits, and the followers no longer have the power to control the market. In the world of manufacturing that drags Atoms by half, even if it is not so remarkable, but in the future, if you focus on the followers in the process of integrating ICT and manufacturing, you will have to fight with significantly disadvantageous game rules.

      Considering this situation, the volunteer members of “Connected factories research subcommittee”, beyond the positions of the companies and the organizations, undertake to establish the framework of cooperation at first. The Industrial Value Chain Initiative (IVI) takes the form of declaration that the advanced engineers who know much about manufacturing in Japan will take the initiative as leaders, not followers, for a new era.

      There are various first steps, such as what kind of issues should be dealt with, and what sort of partners to form alliances with, for companies that agree with “Connected factories”. However, each company does not tackle the issues independently as before, but decides the direction while forming multiple clusters, and at the same time uses elemental technologies and standardization technologies of each cluster that are shared throughout the consortium. By making such activities open to the outside as much as possible and disseminating information overseas, human resources and wisdom from overseas are actively taking into the consortium.

      Rather than with top-down movement in accordance with the national policy, rather than with companies or group of companies’s behavior, with many of Japan’s manufacturing companies, with gentle cooperation in the spirit of Wa (spirit of cooperation), if we can design a framework that takes action and at the same time incorporates a framework of competition and cooperation, it will become a major international trend of frameworks. Industry, academia and government will cooperate in their respective positions, from the beginning, without providing barriers, such as domestic and foreign barriers, advancing in glare both global and local domains, that will expand their activities to the borderless, international of manufacturing proposed in Japan and the presence will be established.

     8) Yasuyuki Nishioka, Autonomous Decentralized Platform for “Connected Factories” in the Borderless Era, System Control Information Society Journal, Vol.28, No.3 , System Control Information Society ( 2015 )   

  • Proposal1 "Connected factories"

    1. Introduction to “Connected factories” (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

     This proposal was published in June, 2014 as “Proposal for manufacturing process innovation towards the realization of “Connected factories” in Japan by the volunteers of the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Manufacturing Systems Division and is re-posted here. 

    1. Introduction

     The key concept of the “ Fourth Production Revolution, Industry 4.0 ” that the German government is currently working on as a national policy with industry, academia and government is “Connected factories”. With the rapid spread of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the future, factory facilities and equipment will be connected across the boundaries of factories, and manufacturing sites and consumers will be directly connected. We foresee that suppliers of such equipment and devices, operators who operate them, and engineers who install or repair them will be connected via networks, and that business form of manufacturing industries and life style of working people will change significantly.

     On the other hand, many manufacturing industries in Japan have moved their manufacturing bases overseas by search of less expensive labor cost, and many of jobs have been lost. At the same time the foundation of manufacturing as a world-leading manufacturing country has greatly fluctuated. With the trend of globalization, competition rules in supply chains and engineering chains have changed dramatically, and companies that supply products to final product manufacturers such as parts manufacturers and manufacturing equipment manufacturers have been forced to change their strategies for win. What should be the changes in 10 or 20 years? The keywords are open and close of services of manufacturing and “Connected factories” in Japan by ICT.

     3D printer technology developments and its spread are attracting attentions currently as a manufacturing innovation policy. There are also expectations for expanding uses of industrial robot technology. As factories in local area which supported the post-war high-growth period was very close to the living area, these new innovations will be a major stream that will bring the manufacturing site closer to us. On the other hand, the sense of strategic clogging is still widespread in conventional factories that have been required to change in a situation where large-scale investment does not remain as before.

     This paper clarifies key concepts for factories of the next-generation, including small and medium-sized manufacturers, and proposes issues to be addressed as a basic policy for manufacturing in Japan, and measures to solve them. Needless to say, like the German example, it is no longer possible to avoid ICT, openness, and networking in the manufacturing world. However, the industries in Japan should define and implement “Connected factories” in a Japanese way, taking into account of Japan’s technological capabilities, development capabilities, on-site capabilities, and the Japanese manufacturing culture that has been cultivated from the past.

     Along with the proposals, I would like to add the position of the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers production system division, technical and academic themes and issues that can contribute to the realization of innovation, and specific action plans for the future.

  • Proposal1 "Connected factories"

    2. What is “Connected factories”? (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

     Three scenarios are introduced for assumption to explain “Connected factories” in Japan as a new concept. Scenario 1 is a model of a niche top company that manufactures the final product at first.

    Scenario 1

     Hosei Kogyo (tentative name) announced an assistive device for people with disabilities in 2018 which was developed for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The manufacturing process incorporated a 3D printer and some metal parts were very complicated and planned to be produced about 10 units per month. This was introduced in Scandinavian media, and the business was gradually expanded to a production system of 2000 units per month as of 2022. By using the manufacturing community platform, they had a plan of construction of their own factory in Fukushima Prefecture in future with controlling investment costs and risks with a network-type fab method.

     Since so-called 3 D printer is oriented to non-repeating orders of small lots, it is better to go to factory equipment investment in the case of mass production and the corresponding cost of one unit will be less expensive. The problem is in between. It can be said that the niche top companies are always going through this process. “Connected factories” can be used as a manufacturing consignment mechanism for such intermediate production lots.

    On the other hand, Scenario 2 below is an example of a support industry company.

    Scenario 2

     Hosei Seimitsu (tentative name) applied for a joint development program with a major material manufacturer and established difficult processing technology for new composite materials. After getting third-party technology evaluation and intellectual property management, orders of processing were stably obtained, and new inquiries through the manufacturing community platform increased, and orders from overseas also increased dramatically. Although there were mass production or repetitive orders, the company did not expand its scale and licensed the processing, while concentrating management resources constantly on the development of new processing technologies.

     As is well known, the high processing technology of SMEs supports manufacturing process of major manufacturers. A further leap can be expected by guaranteeing the system not only for the matching between companies but also for trade and technology assessment and intellectual property management. In addition, by collaborating in the fields such as logistics and customs clearance, orders from overseas can increase.

    And the last example is the image of a completely new type of manufacturing and service company.

    Scenario 3

     Hosei (tentative name), a major contract manufacturing service company specialized in machining, has the third largest sales in Japan as of 2025. The EMS (contracted electronics manufacturing service) business was significantly reduced in 2014 and the business is shifted to machining and resin products. The process management is thoroughly standardized, and the process is streamlined by combination of relatively inexpensive press + sheet metal processing and welding robots with making from 1 to 5,000 products per month. Mainstay is the interior parts of electric cars. The line is in conjunction with the customer’s production management system and the flight digital signage are delivered 2 times per day through the cloud.

     With the advancement of electronics, mechanical elements have been increasingly replaced by electric and software ones, and these have been made into IC chips and printed circuit boards, which can be outsourced to EMS companies. However, on the other hand, there are still some mechanical elements that require manufacturing by combination technologies, and it cannot be a manufacturing service based on Western ideas. Efficient manufacturing such parts with high quality is the strength of manufacturing industries in Japan, and this is likely to become a killer content for manufacturing business in future.

     The characteristic of “Connected factories” is that the process of making products by linking each other beyond companies. Supply chains were often linked by selling and buying of products as transactions between different companies until now. On the other hand, when manufacturing processes are directly linked, not only transactions in standard units such as materials, parts, module products, and products, but also exchanges and manufacturing in units such as intermediate products and works in progress and a form of partially entrusting processes are realized more flexibly than ever.

     There is a history that SMEs and small-scale enterprises have been getting such manufacturing processes as subcontractors of outsourced manufacturing. The pricing right was on the consignment side, and the consignment side also determined and evaluated manufacturing process there. On the other hand, the supply chains are configured from equal standpoints or, in some cases, from trustees in the applications of “Connected factories”. As a result, companies with advanced processing technologies, detailed production preparations, material technologies and elemental technologies can concentrate on improving their technologies. In addition, in response to the ever-increasing variety of product needs and individual customer demands, it will be possible to realize Monozukuri (Manufacturing in industries) that integrates design and manufacturing across corporate boundaries.

  • Proposal1 "Connected factories"

    3. Manufacturing industry collaboration models and standardization issues (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

     In order to realize “Connected factories”, it is indispensable to standardize manufacturing beyond the companies. In particular, when conducting business collaboration or manufacturing process collaboration using the Internet , It is necessary to have discussions in advance on what level and what data should be connected as ICT, and what should be connected based on a standard model.

     IEC 62264 is an international standard for models that integrate FA (factory automation), information control systems, and management systems in this field. As shown in FIG. 1, the entire manufacturing system is defined by dividing into level 1 to level 4 here. At what level does “connected factories” connect to other factories or outside ?

     Let’s divide the collaboration into three types: intra-company vertical cooperation, intra-company horizontal cooperation, and inter-companies cooperation at first. Intra-company horizontal collaboration at Level 1 and Level 2 is largely based on ICT at present, and many standards including international standards are being carried out in this area. In addition, in level 4 business management, business linkage is achieved by an information system such as ERP, and data linkage such as EDI is also realized between companies.

     With the above discussion, a new challenge with “Connected factories” will be vertical collaboration of the site management that connects the top and the bottom at level 3, enterprise horizontal cooperation, and business-to-business cooperation in the field management level. The manufacturing sites in the factory, for the manufacturing industry, can be positioned as showcases by eliminating wastes thoroughly through 5S and KAIZEN activities. However, the manufacturing sites are the most difficult objects to be standardized actually, because various information is exchanged there.

     The strengths of manufacturing sites in Japan include engineering skills such as production technology and production preparation. In Europe and the United States, such engineering and manufacturing operations are completely divided by engineers, and so-called balancing technology at the manufacturing site cannot be established. On the other hand, there is a culture in Japan with which process design and production technology are tailored to the characteristics of each site and are built together with the site. It is highly likely that a new leap will be triggered by using ICT effectively on manufacturing sites as functional centers to link processes in the engineering chain such as design, manufacturing, and maintenance.

  • Proposal1 "Connected factories"

    4. Collaboration platform and ICT utilization (First published in Japanese in June, 2014)

     Along with the terms, such as cyber-physical system (CPS ) and Internet of Things ( IoT ), have become common, equipment and devices send data by themselves, and the flow of people, goods, money, and information tend to be collected as data on the network. However, what should not be mistaken here is that the reality that can be grasped through the Internet as data in this way is only a part of the reality that we want to know.

     In other words, we always need to keep the relationship between the virtual world that can be realized on ICT and the real world that corresponds to the actual manufacturing sites and the corporate activities. It is necessary to make decisions in the real world with adding information taken in the real world to ICT information. ICT is a only tool that complements realistic decision making. Considering these points, the requirements for a cooperative platform to realize a “connected factories” are summarized below.

    (1) On-site / actual / reality-based ICT

     As already mentioned, the collaborative platform makes it possible to handle real things and people as they are, and avoid excessive digitization and ICT. This will prevent technology outflow, foster economic effects by moving people and things, and develop craftsmanship skills and tacit knowledge.

    (2) Realization of open & close strategy

     Promote thorough openness and standardization of the internal structure of the current factories and develop an ecosystem. On the other hand, the manufacturing know-how inside the production line, which is in a competitive area, is concealed by the open & close strategy, and the manufacturing process can be converted to a black box.

    (3) Guarantee of fair and secure cooperation by external organizations

     Clarify the rights and responsibilities of intellectual properties of manufacturing processes, such as modification of prototype drawings and mass production drawings, and determination of manufacturing methods and processing conditions. By enabling tracking by third parties, it promotes fair competition for technology development and at the same time clarifies product liabilities.

    (4) Global deployment and support for international transactions

     Corresponding to a globalized and borderless trading environment, the countries and regions of participating platforms are not limited. Reduce and support the business burden of trading companies on exchange issues, customs clearance issues, intellectual property and legal issues, etc. that occur when manufacturing process collaboration is realized across borders.

  • e-news

    CIOF for Industry 4.0 has launched

    IVI published a specification document of Connected Industries Open Framework (CIOF) which deals with valuable data transportation between smart manufacturing units (SMUs).

    The CIOF contains hyper communication server (HCS), hyper communication terminal (HCT), hyper dictionary server (HDS), and hyper connection manager (HCM).

    The project launched in July 2018 with FANUC, Mitsubishi Electronics, DMG MORI, and Hitachi supported by Japan Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) has developed a testbed prototype system for PoC.

    The results will be presented at Hannover Messe on 1st of April at 14:00 at Hall 8, Stand D17.



  • e-news

    Public review draft of Manufacturing open framework for IVI ecosystem.

    IVI starts a public review of the implementation requirements of manufacturing data translation between different platforms. The document aims that individual platforms can become a user of valuable data provided by the other individual platform without huge effort of particular integration.
    This document is a basic specification document followed by four implementation sub-system specifications including Hyper Connection Server (HCS), Hyper Connection Terminal (HCT), Hyper Connection Manager (HCM), and Hyper Dictionary Manager (HDM), all of which will be also published later.
    The project is funded by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan. Finalizing the project by the end of this February, the resulted use case documents and implementation specifications as well as the developed software will be published and provided as open source so as to develop this data sharing approach more and more open bases.

    The public review document is available here.

  • Announcements

    The 2nd IIC & IVI joint use cases sharing seminar was held.

    IIC(The Industrial Internet Consortium) and IVI(Industrial Value Chain Initiative) established for the realization of Industrial IoT (IIoT) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Hannover City in Germany in 2017. Based on this agreementthe second IIC & IVI joint use case sharing seminar was held in Japan.

    WHEN: Friday, June 1, 2018 13: 15 ~ 17: 00
    WHERE: Tokyo Big Site 1st Floor / Reception Hall A (held at the site of Smart Factory Japan 2018)

    The event attracted over 300 attendees not only members of IIC and IVI, but also non-members.

    We shared activity contents of the testbed and use cases from IIC and IVI.

    Continue reading “The 2nd IIC & IVI joint use cases sharing seminar was held.”

  • Announcements

    The 2nd IIC & IVI joint workshop – sharing use case information

    On April 26, 2017, Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and Industrial Valuechain Initiative (IVI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Hannover City in Germany. Based on this agreement, we have decided to hold a 2nd time joint workshop to share use case information with IIC and IVI. Not only IIC & IVI members also non-members can participate in this event.

    <Date and time>
    Friday, June 1st, 2018 13:15 ~ 17:20 (reception start 13:00)

    <Seminar Venue>
    Tokyo Big Sight Conference Building / Reception Hall A

    <Capacity> 420

    <Application(IIC member)>
    Please send us your name, affiliation, name, e-mail address by e-mail to the following e-mail address.
    [E-mail address]


    Please contact us for details.

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