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RFID Brings Visibility, Analytics to Conditions and Status of Electronics Under Assembly

DAIHEN Corp. is already saving approximately 1,800 hours annually with an IoT-based system that employs RFID and sensor data to understand conditions and work-in-progress for each product being built.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 27, 2018

Japanese industrial electronics company DAIHEN Corp. makes products that are highly sensitive to environmental conditions during assembly, including dust and temperature changes. To automate the process of tracking conditions and pairing them with each product being assembled, the company has begun using environmental sensors and RFID technology, as well as leveraging edge-intelligence software from FogHorn Systems, at its facility in Osaka, Japan.

The solution monitors the conditions and status of each product under assembly, for greater work-in-progress (WIP) understanding. Since the system was installed last year, the manufacturer projects that it has reduced manual data-entry hours by approximately 1,800 hours annually. During the coming fiscal year, the firm plans to expand the system from 70 percent site coverage to 100 percent, and to deploy the technology to its other factories throughout Japan, after which it expects to save 5,000 man-hours annually. The solution is provided with FogHorn software and IT services from Energia Communications (Enecom).

Founded nearly a century ago, DAIHEN makes power products, industrial robots, welding machines and wireless power-transfer systems. There are multiple challenges when it comes to the manufacturing operations, the firm reports. The work is highly sensitive, not only to dust and temperature fluctuations, but also to moisture. The iron core used to make products must be stored in clean rooms at a consistent temperature and humidity, says Ichiro Yamano, DAIHEN's executive officer for the Innovation Task Force team, and with a very low dust level. After the cores are used to build coils, he explains, "these coils are then transferred to a drying room to remove moisture from the materials."

For DAIHEN, ensuring that those conditions met the requirements of both the company and regulators meant considerable manual labor had to be spent checking and recording temperatures. Additionally, there was no automated way to link those conditions with each product under assembly. The assembly process also lacked visibility into the status of each product, so that individual stations could properly anticipate the work they had flowing through that process toward them.

"DAIHEN wanted to reach a higher goal by creating a more automated, accurate and granular monitoring system for each material and fabrication process," Yamano states. Thus, the company began seeking a system that not only automatically captured data, but also enabled collaboration among company teams.

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