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Let’s aim to improve productivity by digitizing the manufacturing site! What are the specific examples and ideas?

As the importance of DX is being called out in all industries and industries , the trend of digitization is increasing even at manufacturing sites. In order to maintain competitiveness in the global market in the future, it is essential to promote digitalization. In this article, we will introduce the reasons why digitization is necessary at the manufacturing site and ideas for digitization.Let's aim to improve productivity by digitizing the manufacturing site! What are the specific examples and ideas?


  1. What is the “digitalization” of the manufacturing industry promoted by the government?
  2. Benefits of digitalization in manufacturing
  3. What is digitalization that should be promoted at the manufacturing site? Find hints and ideas from case studies
  4. summary

What is the “digitalization” of the manufacturing industry promoted by the government?

In recent years, digitalization has led to improvements in productivity and operational efficiency in all industries, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. In the past, the Japanese manufacturing industry used office software such as Excel to manage production and inventory, and used paper documents for form management. However, such an analog management system is inefficient in responding flexibly to high-mix low-volume production and fast-changing market trends. In order to respond to the increasingly serious labor shortage and intensifying competition with overseas companies, it is necessary to accelerate digitization more than ever.

Digitalization in the manufacturing industry is the use of digital technology such as systems and robots to streamline operations and paper-based information management that have traditionally been handled by humans.As a result, stable production is possible. The purpose is to improve productivity by reducing work time and shortening working hours.

Specifically, the manufacturing industry is expected to improve the efficiency of data management by going paperless , automating manufacturing processes and visual inspections using robots and image processing technology, and remotely controlling factory equipment and monitoring operating status using IoT devices. An example of digitization.

Recently, DX (Digital Transformation) is attracting attention as an attempt to acquire a superiority in the market by not only digitizing operations and information management, but also transforming products, services, and even business models through digitization. It has been.

In order to realize DX, it is important to advance the digitalization of internal operations as a preliminary step. By all means, let’s improve the speed of management decision-making by preparing data inside and outside the company so that it can be retrieved quickly when necessary. In addition, the collected data can be used to plan new products and businesses.

It is not just private companies that are promoting DX. In 2017, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced “Connected Industries” as the ideal form of Japanese industry . )” concept to the world.

This is an initiative to make the data possessed by manufacturing sites the strength of the Japanese manufacturing industry, and to connect people, machines, technology, and everything else through data. By enabling technological innovation, productivity improvement, and skill transfer, it shows the ideal state of the industry that aims to create new added value and solve social issues. In order to realize this new concept, the government is hastening to create a mechanism that encourages the manufacturing industry to utilize data and introduce the latest technologies such as AI and IoT.

Background of emphasis on digitization of manufacturing sites

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons and background why digitization is so important at manufacturing sites.

In order to demonstrate competitiveness in the rapidly changing global market, we must create new products and services speedily while maintaining high quality.

However, in Japan, the working population is declining year by year due to the declining population, and due to the impact of the declining birthrate and aging population, it is becoming difficult to pass on field skills and know-how to the next generation. hurdles are also rising. In this way, the manufacturing industry, which has supported Japan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is now facing a crisis.

Although it is not limited to the manufacturing industry, it is also a problem that Japanese companies are behind in the use of IT compared to other developed countries. The systems used at manufacturing sites in Japan are aging, and the cost of updating and maintenance management tends to swell. Therefore, even if you want to introduce the latest technology that will lead to the reform of your work and business, you cannot secure the budget to that extent.

In addition, the lack of understanding of the importance and merits of digitization by management and on-site employees can be said to be one of the factors hindering digitization in the manufacturing industry.

If we are to compete with global companies with a limited labor force, it is essential to develop a digital infrastructure and improve operational efficiency and automation through digitalization. Furthermore, today’s manufacturing sites are required to allocate the human resources, time, and costs generated by digitization to core operations with higher added value and shift to aggressive business strategies.

Benefits of digitalization in manufacturing

The benefits of digitalization in manufacturing include:

Increased productivity

Digital technologies such as robots, IoT, and AI make it possible to automate operations and save labor, contributing to improved productivity. By having robots perform tasks that have traditionally been handled by humans, we can expect to reduce the workload and shorten working hours, as well as reduce human error and standardize quality.

Facilitating technology transfer

When business processes are digitized, processes and tacit understandings that were previously dependent on individual skills are transformed into explicit knowledge. Skills and know-how that used to depend on the experience and intuition of veteran employees can be preserved as data, so even after veteran employees have retired, they can be accumulated as assets within the company. As a result, stable business continuity will be possible even in the situation of labor shortage.

Equipment failure prediction and prevention

By monitoring the equipment in the factory with IoT, it is possible to automatically detect abnormalities and predict failures in advance, so it is possible to prevent production line stoppages. If even unusual noises that humans cannot notice are accurately detected by digital technology, countermeasures can be taken before serious losses occur.

What is digitalization that should be promoted at the manufacturing site? Find hints and ideas from case studies

Some companies in the Japanese manufacturing industry have already achieved results by realizing digitalization. Let’s look for hints and ideas that can be used as a reference for the manufacturing industry to advance digitalization from the case studies of leading companies.

Attempting to promote labor saving and information utilization in the factory by “smart factory”

A ” smart factory ” is a factory that uses IoT technology to connect all machines and equipment in the factory to the Internet, aiming to improve the efficiency of production and information management. It is possible to grasp the operating status of the production line, the movement of people, parts inventory, logistics, etc. in real time. In recent years, it has been attracting attention as a means of resolving labor shortages because it not only optimizes the entire supply chain, but also realizes factory operations that do not rely on human hands .

Hitachi was one of the first companies to make this smart factory a reality. In the past, Hitachi’s factories, like many manufacturing industries in Japan, had problems such as long lead times, excess inventory, reliance on individual workers, and high-mix low-volume production.

Therefore, the company has built a smart factory system. By quickly rotating the four cycles of “data collection on people, things, equipment, and means by sensing,” “data integration,” “data visualization and automatic analysis,” and “automatic feedback,” we will solve the above problems and We succeeded in optimizing the entire business.

“Paperless” converts information into data and streamlines management operations

Replacing business data and daily work reports in the factory with an electronic database by going paperless not only saves time and effort in creating documents, but also reduces printing costs and document storage space.

At Sumitomo Heavy Industries, we have shifted to electronic data management of manufacturing defect reports that were previously handled in paper documents. As a result, not only has the time and effort of data entry and aggregation been greatly reduced, but the aggregation results can be displayed on a large display at the manufacturing site and shared with employees in real time, thereby enhancing awareness of improvement. connected to

Strengthening the product management system by improving traceability

The digitization of the manufacturing industry also contributes to strengthening the production management system by improving traceability. Traceability is a mechanism to trace the process of “product production, distribution, purchase, and consumption”. In English, it means “traceability”, which means “traceability” in direct translation.

Traceability helps us to identify the cause of any defect or defect in a product and to take measures to prevent reoccurrence.

Komatsu Ltd. is promoting the introduction of IoT in factories with the aim of ensuring traceability and optimizing the supply chain. Visualization of performance data of processes such as “machining, welding, heat treatment, and shipping inspection” with a unique IoT application. The collected data is sent from the tablet terminal to the server, where it is used to understand real-time operating conditions and operating rates, improve productivity, and identify and improve problems.


Japan’s manufacturing industry, which has been called a manufacturing superpower, is currently facing a crisis due to a serious labor shortage. In order for Japan to compete in the global market in the future, the promotion of digitization and the realization of DX are urgent. After grasping the benefits of digitization in the manufacturing industry, aim to establish a system for efficient production management and data utilization.



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