Press Release

July 26, 2017

Flexible Factory Partner Alliance
OMRON Corporation
Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International
Sanritz Automation Co., Ltd.
National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
NEC Corporation
Fujitsu Limited
Murata Machinery, Ltd.
July 26, 2017

Formation of Flexible Factory Partner Alliance to Accelerate Use of IoT in Factories

Promoting the spread of coordination control technology to ensure stable communications of various wireless systems

OMRON Corporation, Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), Sanritz Automation Co., Ltd., National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), NEC Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, and Murata Machinery, Ltd., today announced the formation of the Flexible Factory Partner Alliance (Chairperson: Professor Andreas Dengel of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)) to promote the formulation of standards for coordination control technology. This will work to ensure stable communications in an environment where various wireless systems coexist, as well as to promote their use and further accelerate the adoption of wireless systems in manufacturing facilities.

Through the initiatives of this alliance, the partners will seek to meet expectations for a new industrial revolution accompanying the spreading use of IoT in manufacturing facilities.

1. Background and Outlook

In response to fierce international competition resulting from increased globalization, as well as labor shortages and a reduced number of skilled workers due to falling birthrates and aging populations, utilizing ICT in manufacturing to improve productivity is seen as a critical issue. Given that ‘visualization’ in production equipment and production status is moving forward to improve productivity, and as product development cycles have shortened in recent years, there has been a demand for greater flexibility in the configuration of production facilities equipment and in modifying the production line construction. As a means of achieving greater flexibility, there are rising expectations for wireless communications as an important technology. In fact, there has been an increasing trend of manufacturing facilities deploying wireless communications on a trial basis, and then based on these trials, fully implementing such wireless systems.

At the same time, a major issue in wireless communications in factories where various wireless systems coexist is communication instability due to interference between wireless systems and the impact that has on equipment operation. There had previously been few efforts, however, to resolve this sort of wireless communication issue in manufacturing facilities.

To find solutions for the above issues, OMRON, ATR, Sanritz, NICT, NEC, Fujitsu, and Murata Machinery have been conducting trials of wireless communications and evaluating the wireless environment in factories. These companies and organizations have at academic conferences and other venues broadly proposed coordination control technology that would enable stability in communications. This would work by controlling independent wireless systems for each piece of equipment, with specific use cases in actual manufacturing facilities in mind.

Now these companies have come together to form the Flexible Factory Partner Alliance to promote the formulation of standards for coordination control technology. This will thereby ensure stable communications in an environment where various wireless systems coexist, as well as promote their use and further accelerate the adoption of wireless systems in manufacturing facilities. Professor Andreas Dengel of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) has been appointed the chairperson of this alliance.

Through the initiatives of this alliance, the partners will work to meet expectations for a new industrial revolution accompanying the spread of the use of IoT in manufacturing facilities.

2. Goals

The goal of this alliance is to contribute to the standardization of technology to stabilize various wireless systems with coordination control, promote the application of wireless communications in manufacturing factories that are expected to accelerate wireless-connected devices to increase productivity, and disseminate the standards.

3. Summary of Activities

The alliance will take the following actions to achieve the goals.

  1. Development of specifications relating to the technology to stabilize various wireless systems with coordination control
  2. Activities to standardize these specifications
  3. Activities to promote the application of wireless communications in manufacturing factories
  4. Activities necessary to achieve the goals of this alliance
4. Member information

OMRON Corporation (Headquarters: Shimogyo-ku Kyoto, President and CEO: Yoshihito Yamada)
Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (Headquarters: Souraku Kyoto, President: Toru Asami)
Sanritz Automation Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Machida Tokyo, Managing director: Kazuya Suzuki)
National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (Headquarters: Koganei Tokyo, President: Hideyuki Tokuda)
NEC Corporation (Headquarters: Minato-ku Tokyo, President and CEO: Takashi Niino)
Fujitsu Limited (Headquarters: Minato-ku Tokyo, Representative Director & President: Tatsuya Tanaka)
Murata Machinery, Ltd. (Headquarters: Fushimi-ku Kyoto, President & CEO: Daisuke Murata)

Related Links

Flexible Factory Partner Alliance website: http://www.ffp-a.org/