Komatsu's Connected Plants

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Special Story:
Komatsu's Connected Plants
-Increasing Productivity and Conserving Energy with IoT-

Komatsu has been promoting IoT (Internet of Things) for the operation sites of construction machinery using systems such as KOMTRAX and KomConnect. Also, at the production site of the plants, aiming for increased productivity and energy conservation through IoT, we move forward with reforms and improvements of production process, by "making visible " the condition of manufacturing facilities and the state of production, as well as using the KOM-MICS (Komatsu Manufacturing Innovation Cloud System) which unifies information.
In 2011, Komatsu commenced with activities to reduce electricity usage by half, and in 2015 achieved the 50% reduction in both electricity usage at peak hours and overall electricity usage. The significant results brought about by "making visible " the manufacturing process using IoT, as well as the consequent improvements, have been developed into KOM-MICS.
The implementation of KOM-MICS is made up of four steps and currently we are at the Step 2 stage.

Step 1: "Make Visible " the Individual Manufacturing Facilities

Unlike automobiles, construction machinery is a high-mix medium volume production, and the manufacturing facilities that handle them also vary widely, therefore we had not made much progress in getting a comprehensive overview of individual operational statuses and electricity usages.
For this reason, we first "made visible " the operational status of each manufacturing machinery (equipment processing machines, welding robots) by using IoT technology for monitoring. For example, in "machining" where material is cut and processed, we saw that there was a lot of electricity consumption by ancillary equipment during times when processing was not actually happening, such as when cutting was not going on during setup and when cutting conditions were not right and taking extra time. For this reason, we took measures to shorten the setup time and correct the cutting conditions by doing studies using simulation, thereby decreasing the work time by 50% in one case. In this way, by taking measures such as shortening the processing time and turning the power off when not processing or setting it on energy conservation mode, we were able to greatly reduce the amount of electricity used by facilities including wait times.

Example of Decrease in Operational Time for Machine Processing

Example of Decrease in Operational Time for Machine Processing

Step 2: Connect Facilities, Consolidate/Analyze Data

As the next stage after "making visible " the individual manufacturing facilities, we connected the manufacturing facilities using IoT technology and developed KOM-MICS: the system that unifies the information about things like the condition of the production facilities and their processing status. Not limited to domestic plants, the processing facilities and welding robots of overseas plants and partner companies have been connected, and the data for operation rate and production efficiency can be seen in real time. Because of this connectedness, we can see which facilities still need improvement and we can quickly share the improvements of individual processing facilities to similar facilities. Since the whole picture can be seen by this connectedness, in installing energy saving devices, we have been able to install them with accurate prioritization.

Summary of KOM-MICS

Summary of KOM-MICS

Future Development: Steps 3&4

Step 3: Pursue Optimized Manufacturing at Each Plant

We aim to optimize manufacturing at each plant and plan to further improve efficiency through things like setting manufacturing conditions through computers (CAM) (*1) and automatic generation of manufacturing plans with execution directions. (MES) (*2).

  1. CAM: Computer Aided Manufacturing
  2. MES: Manufacturing Execution System

Step 4: Pursue Overall Excellence in All Plants World-Wide

We will further upgrade the level of "connectedness " to attain overall excellence for our plants all over the world, and pursue the 'smart plant ' that doubles productivity (cut manufacturing lead time in half).

Connected Plants: Steps to Implementing KOM-MICS