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The Power of Creativity

MONOZUKURI

Expanding Manufacturing Possibilities Through Remote Production 3

10/28/2020 Roland DG Corporation

The Vast Potential Discovered
with “Remote Production”

As we outlined in the first and second parts of this series, we ran this project on remote production to identify the feasibility of a new, flexible approach to manufacturing that breaks free from the traditional view that products need to be “made at production plants.” We also recognized the various potential of the “D-PICS” manufacturing support system that this remote production was based on.

Minimizing Manufacturing Risks

The first area of potential is that the system can be used as a way of hedging against risks associated with sudden, unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

If situations were to arise that make it difficult for groups of people to gather at a single location, or stay-at-home orders mean workers have to wait it out at home, this approach means production can be continued safely while alleviating the uncertainties of workers. Organizing production at multiple locations capable of smaller-scale operations differs from the usual method where all production is conducted at one large plant, and is not only effective as a form of protection against natural disasters or geopolitical risks, but can also lead to a reduction in people’s traveling time and costs.

More Diversified Working Styles

Another area of potential is that this method can be used to meet more diversified working styles.

Manufacturing that can be achieved anywhere is likely to make it easier for people who find it difficult to commute to work—like those raising children or providing nursing care—to continue working. Having to forgo the opportunity to work due to a range of circumstances, despite having the will to work, is a significant disadvantage for not only those individuals but for society as a whole; the experience and knowhow acquired by being able to continue working at the same company brings major benefits for both. While most people may picture office work or similar types of jobs when they think of working remotely, if we are able to expand on the concept of remote production that we have attempted with this project, it could be beneficial to society as more people will be able to have a fulfilling career.

Local Production, Local Consumption
for The Manufacturing Industry

Another potential benefit is that of “local production, local consumption for the manufacturing industry.”

With this remote production project, we linked up the production plant and 18 people working in their homes to see if “workers with different levels of skill, working at a range of locations were able to assemble products with the same high level of quality by connecting to the production plant over a network.” If we take this concept and replace the term “home” with “overseas countries,” this approach has the potential of achieving local production, local consumption for the manufacturing industry on a global scale, where products can be made to the same level of quality and delivered quickly to suit orders received locally. And instead of manufacturing large quantities of products at a single production plant and delivering them around the world, this approach can not only reduce the lead time after customers place an order, but also cut back on transportation costs and reduce the associated CO2 emissions. There are also other additional benefits, as local workers making products that are needed locally can boost the sense of attachment and confidence in those products, as well as contributing to the local economy.

Final Thoughts

Looking back over this project, remote production is more than simply assembling products at locations other than the production plant—it can bring benefits to areas outside of the manufacturing industry too. “My kids took a keen interest in the project at my home,” explains project leader Sunako, “and when I let them try assembling some parts, they enjoyed it a lot. When I saw this, I could imagine that this approach also has potential in fields like monozukuri education.”

Kids in production 01 Kids in production 02 Kids in production 03

In the past, this type of assembly work was limited to workers who had the relevant knowledge and expertise for utilizing digital data and networks. Now, anyone can achieve the same level of quality wherever they work, and this is the biggest advantage of this manufacturing system. This concept can deliver significant potential throughout a wide range of fields including medical and traditional crafts, the food service industry, and the amusement sector.

We will be further enhancing the technology behind the remote production system built on D-PICS, to contribute to the development of a “new approach to manufacturing” that meets current needs as well as changes in the social environment. Keep checking back with Roland DG to find out more!

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