Daicel's Commitment to Monozukuri Manufacturing Process Innovation The Daicel Production Innovation initiative, which was launched in April 1996 at the Aboshi Plant in Hyogo Prefecture, was implemented after the Integrated Production Center opened in 2000. We then extended this initiative to all our production sites. We have established a supply chain that maximizes business value by simplifying a series of business processes - including manufacturing, sales, and logistics - using our novel approach of Production Innovation the Daicel Way. Through this initiative, we have realized a "virtual plant" system that synchronizes and centralizes information related to monozukuri manufacturing and achieves overall optimization among our multiple plants. In the future, we intend to address the challenge of developing additional innovations by strengthening our prediction functions. We will achieve this by analyzing the vast amount of expertise and information we accumulated in these efforts using AI to process "big data."
Production Innovations by the Daicel Way
In the mid-1990s, we faced enormous pressure from cost competition due to the yen's appreciation and the advance of globalization. We also faced the challenges of impending generational change and facilitating skill transfers associated with the mass retirement of baby boomers. In order to achieve the doubling of productivity targeted in our initial long-term plan (formulated at the end of December 1989), we had to recognize that conventional initiatives had limited potential. We thus launched the R21 Project with the goal of determining which mechanisms, systems, and production systems were necessary to build a new factory with double the productivity. We focused on constructing a next-generation chemical plant incorporating monozukuri manufacturing with new mechanisms adopting three types of innovation: innovation in personnel and organization; innovation in production systems; and innovation in information systems.
Formerly, when operating one of our plants in the conventional manner, we set alarms on 10 or more monitor screens per operator, with thousands of pages of screen monitoring and thousands of instruments. When an alarm was issued, we assumed the cause from tens of thousands of possible events, and responded by conducting a case study with more than ten thousand events.
To improve this situation, by standardizing and systemizing the operational expertise and skills related to equipment that had been accumulated as tacit knowledge amassed by veteran operators, we established a system that enables everyone to utilize the skills held by our most experienced operators. Thus, we aimed to ensure enhanced safety and quality while reducing costs and conserving energy. This initiative later came to be called Production Innovations by the Daicel Way.
Production Innovations by the Daicel Way comprises the following four phases:
Phase 0: Confirmation of need
- We discover waste/loss issues by applying four perspectives: steady workload, transient workload, decision-making mechanism, and cost structure.
Phase 1: Infrastructure development and stabilization
- We eliminate waste/ loss in the field that is revealed in phase 0, with the goal of stabilizing the situation and reducing operator workload.
- We unify the nomenclature and plant equipment displays (tanks, pumps, etc.) used in manufacturing sites and drawings throughout the company. We also promote the development of plant infrastructure.
Phase 2: Standardization
- We standardize our operations (through the comprehensive operability study method) by returning to principles grounded in the four essential elements - safety, stability, quality, and cost - according to the decision-making flow of the operator.
Phase 3: Systemization
- We construct an Intellectual and Integrated Production System utilizing IT as a mechanism to prevent any degradation of standardized operating methods.
In March 2000, the Company constructed an Integrated Production Center (IPC) focused on the Intellectual and Integrated Production System at Daicel's Aboshi Plant in Hyogo Prefecture. The three areas of the Aboshi Plant - the cellulose area, organic area, and energy area - are controlled from a single location in the IPC to ensure the optimum overall operation.
- Worker productivity tripled, labor burden reduced to 1/10th, quality improved.
- Adoption of capitalization as a business model patent (production innovation method, intellectual production operation method, intellectual production system)
- The critical issues are the intentions of those in upper management (decision-making, delegation of authority to middle management); the passion of middle management (to change the factory, take the initiative to implement reforms); and the willingness of union members to improve themselves at each site.
Establishment of Optimal Production System
Encompassing the Aboshi and Ohtake Plants
Efforts were made to further maximize earnings. Building on the existing approach of Production Innovations by the Daicel Way, we constructed a system to optimize production planning as well as energy supply and demand by making the Aboshi Plant in Hyogo Prefecture and the Ohtake Plant in Hiroshima Prefecture produce the same cellulose products as if they were a single unit.
- The Aboshi Plant, which uses gas and coal as fuels for its energy plant, and the Ohtake Plant, which mixes coal with tire chips, have differing energy costs for manufacturing, so they differ in terms of the cost of procurement.
- In light of the production volume required for both plants, we have established and implemented a system for simulating the production plan and operating conditions of the energy plants. Therefore, total costs can be minimized in relation to energy costs, inventory costs, and logistics costs.
- During actual operation, we use the Energy Operation Optimization System to simulate the operating conditions of energy plants. Thus, we maintain a mechanism that can keep operating costs to a minimum.
- We have achieved a reduction in total costs by implementing overall optimization from the conventional factory optimization approach.
- We've created a virtual plant by means of a two-plant system and by employing an optimal production system and energy operation optimization system at the Aboshi and Ohtake Plants.
Practical Application of an Image Analysis System Production Innovation in the Assembly Plants
We collaborated with Hitachi, Ltd. for a 16-month period beginning in February 2005 to analyze production data from the perspective of 3M (Man, Machine, Material). This data was obtained from our Harima Plant, which manufactures inflators for automobile airbags as part of our assembly business. By incorporating Hitachi's advanced IoT technology (using image analysis, AI, and the like), we have implemented a new system linking the results to +M (Method).
By installing several types of cameras suited to particular applications and conducting an AI analysis of image data showing the movements of workers and machines, we have created a system whereby supervisors are notified when an abnormality occurs. This enables supervisory staff to respond immediately.. By compiling image data and linking it to normal manufacturing data, it is possible to accelerate the investigation into the cause of the issue and to identify possible improvements through analysis.
Image Analysis for Man
- Specifically, important work procedures related to quality assurance, actual movements of workers and standard operation models are compared and analyzed. Any deviations from standard work procedures are automatically detected and supervisory staff are notified with an alert on a smartwatch.
- By analyzing the flow lines in the work area, we can devise the optimal arrangement of personnel and equipment.
Image Analysis for Machine and Material
- By recording video of the operating status of the production facilities, we can detect abnormalities.
- The status of the equipment and materials handled by the parts supplier can thus be monitored.
- The focus of quality assurance can be shifted from "representative-point management" on a lot-by-lot basis to "all-points management" (continuous monitoring of the state of workers, equipment, and materials) on a serial production basis. This approach can greatly improve the in-process product quality assurance rate.
- This approach helps to prevent defects by shifting the site management supervisor from a response-centered role focusing on the handling of a situation after the fact to a trend-monitoring role focusing on the implementation of preventive measures reflecting the data obtained.
Image analysis system used in the inflator assembly process to promote quality control in the transition from lot-by-lot to serial production