Attention is focused on the further utilization of IoT, which is becoming more widespread in the industrial field. Why is the already widespread IoT considered even more important? While introducing the reason, we will consider how IoT should be utilized in the future.
Why IoT is attracting attention in the industrial field
The IoT is becoming more widespread and is pervading domestic industries. However, the attention to IoT is increasing again. Let us consider the reason for this from the challenges facing Japanese industry.
Challenges facing Japanese industry- “Four Crisis”
The “White Paper on Manufacturing” is a compilation of Japanese industry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, led by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It is also an annual report that summarizes the current situation of Japanese industry and what measures should be taken in the future, and reports to the Diet. From this white paper on manufacturing, let’s consider the current challenges of Japanese industry.
The 2018 White Paper on Manufacturing points out that four crises are flooding Japanese industry.
The first crisis is the lack of quantitative and qualitative human resources. The shortage of workers in the manufacturing industry has been regarded as a major problem in recent years. In addition to the shortage of human resources, the serious shortage of qualitative human resources is becoming more problematic. As the skills required of people working in the manufacturing industry change drastically, there is a shortage of human resources who have acquired new manufacturing skills. It has been pointed out that there is an urgent need to develop digital human resources who have the knowledge of “manufacturing and IoT” and “manufacturing and AI” that will be required for future manufacturing.
The second crisis is distrust of quality and lack of coordination between departments in the field. From 2018 to 2019, inappropriate cases related to quality control became a major social problem. With regard to quality, which has been regarded as one of Japan’s strengths, the underlying trust has been shaken. These problems are said to have been partly due to overconfidence in practices that have continued from the past, octopus traps in the field, and lack of cooperation between departments.
The third crisis is the lack of awareness of the transformational period of digitalization. The world’s manufacturing industry is considered to be in a period of major transformation by utilizing new technologies such as IoT, AI, and robots. It has been pointed out that most domestic manufacturers are not able to make effective use of new technologies and lack a sense of crisis. It is said that the crisis is the lack of such recognition and lack of a sense of crisis.
The fourth crisis is that many managers are thinking about change as an extension of the conventional one, even if they are aware of it. It is important for management to recognize the need for discontinuous change efforts and create new business opportunities, rather than change that is an extension of the traditional successful experience.
To survive the crisis- “Fourth Industrial Revolution”
What kind of measures are effective in the situation where such a crisis is at stake? The answer to that question is in the 2019 White Paper on Manufacturing.
In the 2019 White Paper on Manufacturing, the following four strategies are proposed as promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution to maintain and strengthen the competitiveness of the world.
The first strategy is to utilize the data obtained from IoT and create a mechanism to provide needs-specific services. Utilization of IoT, which can be said to be the representative of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has achieved some results in the rationalization of production lines. However, what is needed for the industry in the future is the second stage of the fourth industry, “how to utilize the data collected by IoT”. Our goal is to make effective use of such data and create specialized business models that meet needs.
The second strategy is to insatiably improve our technological capabilities and quality and gain global market share. Japan has strengths in the manufacture of advanced parts and materials, and there are several that have a global market share of 60% or more. Behind this strong trend is the explosive spread of digital devices, including smartphones. In these fields as well, it is necessary to further improve our technological capabilities and quality, and to expand our market share with proactive proposals.
The third is to secure human resources with the skills to combine manufacturing and AI, and manufacturing and IoT. As the quantitative and qualitative shortage of human resources becomes more serious, securing such human resources continues to be an issue. In addition to securing and training human resources, it is important to realize a place where such human resources can play an active role.
The fourth is labor saving and labor saving by IoT and AI, and digitization of skills. While many companies have a sense of crisis about skill succession, about 75% of SMEs responded positively to digitizing and AI-based skills. What is required now is the effort and ingenuity to retain the skilled skills while they remain in the field. In addition, it is said that such digitization of manufacturing skills will promote labor saving and labor saving, and will lead to solving the shortage of human resources.
These changes are believed to be necessary to resolve the crisis facing Japanese industry, and all four of these measures are related to the IoT. The IoT is considered to be an important position to support Japanese industry in the future.
Utilization of IoT in the industrial field goes to the second stage
The IoT is rapidly becoming widespread, and data acquisition from everywhere and smart factories are becoming a reality. However, most of the IoT utilization so far has been used to “visualize” data. This is the first step in utilizing IoT.
In order for Japanese industry to maintain its competitiveness in the world, it is necessary to consider the second stage of IoT utilization, “how to effectively utilize visualized data”. In order to turn the data acquired by IoT into such “usable data”, it is necessary to have a mechanism to ensure the high quality of the data. Therefore, it is necessary to have human resources or systems that perform the process of selecting data and making it effective data. For this reason, there is an urgent need to secure digital human resources.
How you use the data is also important. Needs response and digital twins are typical examples of data utilization methods that are currently underway.
Providing services that meet needs is as mentioned as a future measure in the 2019 White Paper on Manufacturing. The current situation is that competition for business models that analyze big data collected through products and provide services that meet fresh needs in real time is intensifying on a global scale.
The other digital twin is a “digital twin” that creates a factory or distribution base in a virtual world as it is and operates it in cooperation with reality. It is a new production control method that reproduces how things are actually made and under what circumstances, and optimizes production from there. In addition, it is possible to perform environmental tests that are difficult in reality, and to predict and maintain equipment and equipment problems that may reduce production efficiency.
In addition to acquiring data and visualizing the operating status, efforts to make more effective use of the data are being promoted as the second stage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Examples of IoT utilization in the industrial field
So how is IoT actually being used in the industrial field?
Future image of retail industry-Finely responding to user needs
The retail industry is also promoting the provision of needs-specific services that utilize IoT. Convenience stores are a typical example of a retail business where user needs are easy to understand. What users want from convenience stores is “easiness,” “quickness,” and “convenience.”
However, it is a real burden for store staff to meet these needs while being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, we are working on improving the efficiency of actual work in stores and responding to user needs through IoT.
Including inventory management and expiration date management using electronic tags, we are trying to accumulate data obtained from it and analyze big data to utilize it for ideal store layouts. In addition, IoT can also realize a mechanism that allows smartphones to make payments simply by passing through the gate. These efforts are an example of providing services that are specific to the needs of users at convenience stores.
Data collection from the operating status of construction machinery-from CO2 emissions to economic forecasts
The second stage of IoT utilization is progressing in all areas. The Information and Communication White Paper compiled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications introduces some examples as “concrete impacts of implementing IoT.” One of them is an example of IoT utilization by Komatsu Ltd., which is known for its construction machinery.
Komatsu equipped construction machinery with GPS and communication systems, which were used to prevent theft and crime. “KOMTRAX” is a system that uses the operating status data obtained from this as an economic indicator to take it one step further.
KOMTRAX is an index of how Komatsu products around the world are operating. As a result, CO2 emissions from construction machinery are visualized. You can also get information on which areas have a lot of construction machinery in operation and what types of construction machinery are in use. From the operating status of construction machinery, you can know the areas where public works are active, and you can predict economic trends. In addition, from the introduction information by type, it is possible to predict what kind of construction is being carried out and what kind of things are in demand in connection with it.
Utilization of IoT even for small and medium-sized enterprises-enhanced customer support by adopting IoT
The use of IoT is also advancing in small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s collection of examples of IoT utilization by small and medium-sized manufacturing companies reports many examples of IoT utilization by small and medium-sized enterprises.
Many of them have succeeded in monitoring and visualizing the operating status of equipment and devices, but the most striking example is that the data obtained by IoT was used to enhance customer support. ..
This company deals with “edible printers” that print edible on cookies and rice crackers. After the sale of edible printers, the company had few opportunities to know how they were used, and had the problem that it was difficult to determine the cause even when a failure occurred.
Therefore, we have built a mechanism to acquire the data and operating status obtained from the temperature / humidity sensor installed in the edible printer in real time, which leads to the solution of the problem. Not only that, but from the perspective of food-related equipment, we are able to provide hygiene advice and ink replenishment at the right time, and we have succeeded in enhancing customer support.
IoT is the key to evolving Japanese industry
We introduced the reason why industrial IoT utilization is attracting more attention, and the current situation where IoT utilization is progressing to the second stage. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry states that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in an important position for Japan to maintain and strengthen its competitiveness in the world. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is said to bring about industrial transformation by connecting everything to the Internet. The big change has entered the second stage of how to use data.