Daikin, Hitachi start joint demonstration to digitalise quality control know-how in reaction process of chemical manufacturing

Daikin Industries and Hitachi announced that they will start a joint demonstration to digitalise quality control know-how in the reaction process of chemical manufacturing, especially in fluorochemicals, at Daikin Yodogawa plant, as the second step in their collaborative creation.

Daikin’s Yodogawa plant where the joint demonstration in the reaction process of chemicals will be conducted.
Daikin’s Yodogawa plant where the joint demonstration in the reaction process of chemicals will be conducted.

For this joint demonstration, Daikin and Hitachi will introduce a system that generates alarms for workers to ensure appropriate quality control instantaneously. Hitachi’s image analysis technology of ‘Lumada’ enables to visualise variety of status in reaction processes such as liquid foaming status and colour change, all of which were previously checked visually by workers at certain designated points. This digitalisation technology extracts the operating status data instantaneously and consecutively, which leads to maintaining quality control and improving efficiency in the future.

In recent years, given the diversification of customers’ needs, rapid progress of digitalisation, and intensifying global competition, there is a need for hi-mix low-volume production that meet customers’ individual needs. In small-scale chemical production processes, which are difficult to be sensed using general instrumentation devices, quality is controlled by monitoring the production status with visual checks by workers at designated points.

However, as the quality of finished products can vary even under the same manufacturing conditions – such as liquid amount and time – quality control requires considering factors that can be seen in liquid foaming state, colour change, and other reaction states while the liquid is stirred, so as to improve the consistency of quality. Another issue, however, is that the frequency with which manufacturing processes can be monitored is restrained by the need to maintain productivity.

Daikin and Hitachi advance their collaborative creation to achieve a next-generation production model utilising advanced IoT. The first step of collaborative creation is to develop the ‘Brazing Skills Training Support System’ that digitalises brazing skills by using Hitachi’s image analysis technology. Brazing skills requires advanced skills and expertise within the manufacturing process of air conditioners. The system commenced operation at Daikin’s Shiga Plant from October 2017. Daikin is expanding applications to other locations worldwide.

As the second step in their collaborative creation, Daikin and Hitachi have also applied Hitachi’s image analysis technology and examined the digitalisation of quality control know-how at the manufacturing process of fluorochemicals at Daikin’s Yodogawa Plant. From the perspective of the ‘4Ms’ – Man, Machine, Material and Method – they have collected the time-series numerical values and image data of the reaction statuses of chemicals (e.g., liquid colour and foaming) and equipment operation statuses (e.g., temperature and rotating speed) using cameras and sensors.

By converting the image data to numeric data and correlating them with quality, it has become possible to establish quantitative criteria that affect the quality of finished products. Because of the criteria, the two companies gained the prospects of reducing defective rate and improving productivity and will begin a joint demonstration within the fluorochemicals manufacturing process.

In this demonstration, Daikin and Hitachi will introduce the system on-site to verify the effects. In the future, the system will be enhanced by adding new factors of logic through monitoring and analysing human-decision. This system will contribute to digitalise the manufacturing know-how of skilled, expert workers and to establish new manufacturing process in the future.

Based on the results of this joint demonstration, Daikin and Hitachi will establish the system to evaluate and analyse different reaction statuses in the chemical manufacturing. The system also intends to improve quality and productivity, as well as digitalisation of the know-how of skilled, expert workers.

Hitachi is expanding its image analysis technology of Lumada to manufacturing industries such as food and pharmaceuticals, as well as to chemical industries worldwide.

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