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Isuzu : Truck Manufacture by Human feat. Robot

Before I visited the factory of Isuzu, I just knew that Isuzu was the manufacturer of Panther, a popular car in Indonesia which my aunt usually ride on. But through this factory study tour, I got to know that Isuzu products have many varieties, from trucks to diesel engines. In this visit, we had a great opportunity to have a look on light truck production in Isuzu’s biggest plant named Fujisawa plant, and is located in Kanagawa prefecture.

Isuzu, Fujisawa Plant

After  a welcoming greeting and company’s profile presentation, we were brought to the factory. They showed us the flow process of the light truck production from the semi-finished material.. First, we observed the machining section. In that section, the materials were put together to form the engines. Then, the engines were brought to next section named engine mounting section, where the engines are assembled to the body parts of truck. Next, all the body parts are united together in the mounting section. There are a lot of sub-section of mounting, such as cab mounting, roof mounting, etc. After all parts are being together to give a light truck, then it was painted and brought to the final inspection. If it passes the inspection, then the light truck will be stamped or given a barcode so the date and code of production can be tracked.

Since it was heavy vehicle production, around 80% of the work was done by robots and human workers do the rest. The robots do not only assist in assembly and mounting the heavy parts, but also they help to deliver materials or data from one section to another. The thing that attracted us was the delivery robots having certain song as they pass through. The production manager said that the song came out from robots was to warn the workers that the robots would passsing through. So above of all, the tour was so exciting!

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Let’s Develop the Future Technology with Mitsubishi Electronics

There was something different in our fourth factory study tour on the 21st of December 2011 when we visited Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. Unlike previous study tours that we observed the factory, this time we visited the Research and Development (R&D) Group and had a look on Information Technology R&D Center and Industrial Design Center. The Information Technology R&D Center is responsible for creating a safer and more secure information and communications technologies in areas such as encryption, video coding, antennas/microwaves, etc. On the other side, Industrial Design Center is responsible for designing products such as home appliances and electronic devices to reach the consumers’ satisfaction and make user-friendly products.

Mitsubishi electric corp. Logo

After welcoming greetings and the introductory presentations of the two R&D Centers, Miss Kawahigashi, the Head of IT R&D Center, presented her seminar titled “Cyber Security : Industry Challenges and Way Ahead”. She talked about the definition of Cyber Security and its threats, then how Mitsubishi’s IT R&D Center combats the threats. Next, Mr. Yamada, the Head of Industrial Design Center, elaborated about design technology that they conduct with three principles, which are Product Design, Interface Design, and Concept Design. Besides, they have another important principle called Universal Design. Herein, they design products which convenient for all customers including aged people and disabled people. For example, they produce elevators which have eye-catching “open door” button to reduce operation mistakes by visually impaired people.

Afterwards, the tour began. Firstly, we were brought to Advanced Design Technology section, which is belong to Industrial Design Center. There, Mr. Yamada explained that his group were not just design products on a paper or software, but they also made the prototype. He showed us a prototype of the future car’s navigation system that they have designed to be realized someday. Next, he showed us the “safe rice cooker” that does not produce steam which usually harm children (Look the figure below). As the result, they won Kids Design Award 2009 for this product. Not only safety, they also care about consumers’ comfort and easy operability when using their product. For instance, they developed vacuum cleaner that has smooth rotation for easy carrier because they installed five rotational wheels under the round-shaped vacuum cleaner.

Mitsubishi's newest rice cooker

Next, we observed the information technology sections. First, we went to Multi Screen Display Technology section. They displayed 12 LCDs that were put together and can serve as a big screen by adjusting the timing of pictures which trasmitted to each LCD. This big screen often used to share information among operators or officers and usuallu used in meteorological center or police center. Second, we were explained about Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) technology. IPTV is a system through which television services are delivered using the internet protocol suite, instead of using antenna for broadcasting. It is bringing Video on Demand (VoD) to television which permits a customer to browse online program or film catalog. Customers even can do shopping through the television installed with IPTV.

Then, we entered Information Security Technology section. We watched a movie about how important the information security technology is in the middle of technology era these days. Furthermore, they develop communication hardware and transmission protocols that provide highly reliable real-time transmission of large volume of data as well as integrated ID management technology which prevent identity theft. The last section that we observed was HTV/Antenna Technology section. Herein, we got to know that they’re progressing in research antenna technologies for various applications, such as mobile communications, satellite communications, radar, etc.

From this experience of visiting Research and Development group of Mitsubishi Electric, I might say that Mitsubishi Electric strives hard to fulfill customers’ expectation and makes better technology in the future. I’m grateful to have a look on the technology development they are conducting.

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Canon Electronics, electronic appliances feat. Eco-management

Canon Electronics, Inc. is a well known company for electronic utilities such as printer, scanner, camera, copier, etc. Fortunately, on November 15th 2011, we had a great opportunity to visit Canon Electronics, Inc. factory in Saitama, which is called Misato Plant. This 350.000 m2 plant is used for scanner manufacturing.

There were many important points of Canon Electronics that I pointed out from the Chairman’s explanation in the beginning of our tour. The first point is that Canon Electronics works hard to be environmental-friendly company by running ecology oriented management, such as reduction of waste by selling the unused materials and separating plastic in 7 categories and paper in 5 categories. The result was fascinating, they could reduce the power consumption by 44% and reduce the disposal waste by 43% in 2008 compared with year 2000.

Secondly, Canon Electronics treats the employees very well. They assign the workers to the proper production line depending on the his/her experience. They not only provide trainings for employees, but also educational courses such as business skill and management courses for new employees.

Another point, Canon Electronics is trusted by customers around the world from their products’ quality. In quality assurance section of scanners product, they carry out consistent image quality check by visual check and automatic check by software. Moreover, to prevent human errors from packing, they always match the product with the barcode and sofware check.

After the Chairman finished his explanation, we were guided to the factory by the production manager. He showed us the flow of scanner manufacturing which consists of several production line and the quality assurance procedures. He pointed that Canon Electronics still prefers human beings as workers to automatic machine. It was because human beings are more flexible and fit in any changes than automatic machines. In addition, to minimalize the production cost, they make most of the semi-finished materials from raw materials by themselves.

Finally, they demonstrated how to operate the scanners. There was a scanner which can scan name card and recognize the data that was written in the name card. Another amazing scanner they had was the one that can scan 100 pages in a row very quickly. Before we going back to Ookayama campus, there was also a question and answer (Q & A) session. Many students gave question enthusiastically, they mostly asked about workers and safety management. The chairman and the staffs gave a very clear answer so the students seemed very content. We are thankful to Canon Electronics for their warm welcome and knowledge that they shared.