Fujitsu deploys industrial IoT platform for Ricoh chemical plant in Japan
Japanese imaging and electronics firm Ricoh Company has recruited country-mate Fujitsu to accelerate its IoT sensor and data usage at process manufacturing facilities in Japan, starting at a chemical plant in the city of Numazu, in the middle of the country. Fujitsu is to deploy an industrial IoT data analytics and visualisation platform at the site, which it is calling a ‘smart factory’, to help Ricoh monitor changes in plant operations and product quality.
It said plant managers and engineers will be able to remotely manage Ricoh’s plant in Numazu, with a live view of factory machines and production processes, and predictive alerts about equipment failure, quality defects, and other potential interruptions to its “smooth operation”. The project has been spurred by the company’s post Covid-19 back-to-work strategy, and to “accelerate digital transformation in the ‘new normal’”, said Fujitsu.
Ricoh’s facility in Numazu serves as its base for research, development, and production of chemical products. The office carries out R&D and production of image forming supplies such as polymerized toner and ink, thermal products, and business development for solar cells and new materials. The chemical plant produces polymerized toner, which flows through tanks, pipes, and processing equipment that do not allow for external quality checks.
Instead, the quality of the toner product is determined by large numbers of sensors and sampling inspections. A “small number” of workers is tasked with handling the various sensor and sample data, and status reports, and is reliant on data analytics and digital dashboards to respond to live information in the facility. The Covid-19 lockdown stopped managers from visiting sites at times, and Ricoh has sought to introduce remote working IoT tools.
The new system uses Fujitsu’s COLMINA-branded plant visualization solution to collect and process production information, and connect to smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Fujitsu said the plant status and production quality can be checked “anytime and anywhere”. The system will be rolled out to other locations in due course, said Fujitsu; the company said its relationship with Ricoh will expand to cover other digital transformation initiatives, it said.