At the Hannover Messe event, Fujitsu Limited and Microsoft Corp. announced their collaboration to bring IoT Innovation and operational excellence to manufacturing with the help of Fujitsu devices powered by Windows 8.1 Pro, the Internet of Things (IoT) services of Fujitsu Cloud A5 for Microsoft Azure and the Fujitsu IoT/M2M (machine-to-machine) platform.
The demand for more efficient services in the manufacturing sector has led to a massive increase in the number of M2M connections in this space. According Verizon’s 2015 State of the Market report, there was 204% year-on-year growth in M2M connections in the manufacturing sector and represents their fastest growing M2M sector.
Both Microsoft and Fujitsu have stated that the solution has a range of different applications and can be tailored to a wide array of different sectors, which in turn will give both companies experience of other markets.
This move is not the first by either company into developing IoT/M2M solutions. It follows Fujitsu’s IoT innovation drive to expand its core data centres in Japan in order to accelerate demand for its cloud services.
For Microsoft, this is one of two recent IoT innovation collaborations, the other being its partnership with Miele, the manufacturer of domestic appliances, to produce a new breed of smart appliances, following a proof-of-concept study.
Having recognised a solution was needed to optimise processing by both machines and humans, Fujitsu brought together its Eco-Management Dashboard, the IoT/M2M platform, Microsoft cloud services and Windows tablets in a way that could enable managers, engineers and scientists to improve product quality, streamline systems and enhance functionality while reducing costs.
This IoT innovation solution is based on the groundbreaking work Fujitsu performed in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan. Fujitsu converted its semiconductor manufacturing operations into its Akisai Plant Factory,1 a large-scale facility that integrates cutting-edge agricultural techniques with state-of-the-art manufacturing and information and communication technologies, such as the Fujitsu Akisai agricultural cloud.
At this facility, Fujitsu is using a portion of its clean room areas to produce lettuce that is both delicious and low in potassium so it can be consumed by dialysis patients and people with chronic kidney disease. As a next step, Fujitsu is deploying its Eco-Management Dashboard and applying its IoT and M2M capabilities to realise even higher-quality products, enhanced functionality and greater productivity.
As part of this comprehensive solution, scattered data is input into the Microsoft Azure database and evaluated through advanced analytics and natural user interfaces. The Eco-Management Dashboard is used to help simultaneously manage product quality, process efficiency and equipment performance to improve operations and reduce energy costs.
This solution can be replicated by other manufacturers and will be an enormous step in helping companies manage and consume data in the right ways, increasing productivity while saving time and money.
“Leveraging Fujitsu’s Eco-Management Dashboard solution alongside Microsoft Azure and the Fujitsu IoT innovation platform, we are able to deliver real-time visualisation of the engineering process for big data analytics to improve the entire production process and inform decision-making,” said Hiroyuki Sakai, corporate executive officer, executive vice president, head of Global Marketing at Fujitsu Limited.
“We are proud to partner with Fujitsu to enable the next generation of manufacturing business models and services enabled by IoT innovation along with advanced analytics capabilities like machine learning,” said Sanjay Ravi, managing director, Discrete Manufacturing Industry at Microsoft. “Fujitsu – Microsoft IoT innovation will drive new levels of operational excellence and accelerate the pace of digital business transformation in manufacturing.”
Fujitsu and Microsoft are on the leading edge of advancing the next generation of manufacturing through IoT innovation. Together, they are developing solutions that will help manufacturing customers be more productive and deliver higher-quality products.