China International Import Expo: KDDI Shanghai speaks at China-Japan smart factory forum
November 21, 2019
KDDI Shanghai held a presentation titled “The Front Line of Smart Manufacturing: IoT/RPA Fusion Solutions” covering case studies in creating smart factories, as part of the 2019 Suzhou (Xiangcheng) China-Japan Smart Manufacturing Cooperation Innovation Forum, held at the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 7, 2019.
With personnel costs in China rising, many factories have proceeded with installing robots and other equipment to automate production and inspection work. However, such equipment is often offline due to unexpected operation halts, changes in manufacturing procedures, or other reasons, with the result that the equipment is not reaching its full potential. Meanwhile, at factories operating primarily by manual work, high employee turnover limits productivity, with the working speed of new employees being a bottleneck.
There are also issues related to clerical work within factories, with large amounts of mundane, routine work occupying the time of employees and preventing them from focusing on more productive goals. Although automation of blue-collar work has made many advances, the burden of white-collar work remains unchanged or more prevalent than before. The question of how to make such routine work more efficient is an issue facing factory managers.
Looking to address such issues, KDDI Shanghai’s Junji Morioka gave the presentation, describing how a combination of on-site improvements achieved through IoT (Internet of Things) and clerical work efficiency achieved through RPA (Robotic Process Automation) can maximize each other’s benefits and improve the competitiveness of factories.
As a case study for using IoT at a manual labor-centric factory, Mr. Morioka introduced a case where a factory suffering from lowered productivity caused by employee turnover achieved improvements to productivity by analyzing numerical data on worker performance and procedure bottlenecks that was obtained using IoT. Such quantification of work data, difficult to achieve in the past, has become easier to achieve thanks to factors such as cheaper sensors.
Mr. Morioka also described how the massive amount of order processing work that had taken hundreds of hours every month to complete was successfully automated with RPA, leading to large savings in labor hours.
Separate from the presentation, the expo also featured booths set up by Japanese manufacturers, which received many visits by expo attendees. The innovation forum, meanwhile, had over 200 visitors, and after it was over we received many questions and opinions, indicating to us the high level of interest in our manufacturing IT solutions.
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