MENU

SOLUTION / VOL.05

Intelligent Gas Supplying System
-Realizing smart factories that harnesses
cutting-edge technology

INTRODUCTION

Intelligent Gas Supplying System
-Realizing smart factories that harnesses
cutting-edge technology

Intelligent Gas Supplying System
-Realizing smart factories that harnesses
cutting-edge technology

  • Dec 1, 2021

  • TEXT BY YUYA OYAMADA

  • ILLUSTRAIONS BY SHINJI HAMANA

  • Technology

  • Health

  • Event

Semiconductors have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. The related production process uses various kinds of industrial gases. At conventional semiconductor factories, workers engage in hard physical work, replacing gas cylinders each weighing over 100 kilograms dozens of times a day.

Moreover,daily maintenance and inspections are required under law at work sites that use high-pressure gas, including semiconductor factories. This is tremendously time-consuming and labor-intensive work for production sites that are facing labor shortages.

In response, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, a group company of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC), developed the Intelligent Gas Supplying System (IGSS). IGSS brings digital innovation to the gas industry, providing support for converting gas supplying sites into smart factories. The company launched the system in July 2020.

Intelligent Gas Supplying System
-Realizing smart factories that harnesses
cutting-edge technology

FEATURE

FEATURE

  • 01

    Solving challenges faced by gas supplying sites

    Semiconductor factories and other plants that have sites to supply industrial gasses are facing a number of challenges, such as hard physical work, dangerous tasks, and labor shortages. Thus, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation worked to develop a support system using digital technologies.

  • 02

    Developing a system integrated with six functions

    Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation developed a new gas supplying system in close collaboration with not only external partner companies in the robotics and IT industries, but also clients’ factories that actually use industrial gases. By doing so, the company was able to significantly reduce the work burden at gas supplying sites with the Intelligent Gas Supplying System (IGSS), which integrates systems for handling the robotic transportation of gas cylinders, daily inspections, monitoring, and other tasks into a tablet computer.

  • 03

    Expecting a transformation for the gas supply business model

    IGSS is expected not only to boost smart factories at gas supplying sites, but also to bring about a business model transformation by developing new businesses that assist in improving the efficiency of operations involving industrial gasses and by exploring new applications for the support system in fields other than industrial gasses through digital innovation.

Intelligent Gas Supplying System
-Realizing smart factories that harnesses
cutting-edge technology

DETAIL

DETAIL

Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation commenced development of IGSS in 2017. This was when the concept of a “smart factory,” which emerged in the Fourth Industrial Revolution aimed at saving energy and manpower in manufacturing with digital technologies, was attracting attention in Japan.

A smart factory is defined as being able to continuously reform processes, and improve quality and productivity by incorporating cutting-edge technologies, such as AI and IoT, into a full range of tasks at the manufacturing site.

Why do semiconductor factories, which triggered the development of IGSS, need to turn into smart factories? This is because gas supplying sites face a number of challenges.

Indeed, semiconductor factories are already automated and unmanned in most of their operations. In this sense, they already have turned into smart factories. However, there are still some manual tasks, such as replacing gas cylinders, maintenance, and inspections. In addition, such manufacturing sites are facing labor shortages.

Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, a company that has built partner relationships with
semiconductor and other electronics factories as a supplier of industrial gasses, aimed to resolve the challenges its customers face through digital innovation that leads to realizing smart factories.

The company defined the project concept as: “Provide ease to make our customers’ business more KAITEKI* by providing them with the concept of KAITEKI gas equipment.” It set a development goal to automate a full range of gas supplying operations by leveraging the latest technologies, such as robots, AI, sensors, and cloud services.
* KAITEKI is an original concept of the MCHC Group. The Group uses the word kaiteki to encapsulate the idea of sustainable well-being for people, society and our planet Earth.

In this project, fast-paced actions were also required to keep up with the rapidly advancing digital technologies. The project members at Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation are experts with handling gas, but have little knowledge about technologies, including IoT and AI. Thus, the company promoted open innovation with other corporations that have the expertise, and adopted a methodology called “agile development,” in which a project progresses with repeated trial and verification processes in a short period of time.

In the conventional development methodology, a requirements definition is clarified from the very start and processes are implemented step by step toward completion. However, with agile development methodology, a product gradually takes shape in the course of development activities. Necessary functions and other requirements are defined by repeating the process from planning, designing, implementing, and verifying, in a short period of time and making a number of prototypes. This results in improving product quality within a short period.

However, to improve the accuracy of trials and verifications, projects always need to be implemented in partnership with the customers who ultimately use the systems. If the collaboration is not close enough, repeated trials end in vain and consume costs and time. If this happens, the advantages of agile development cannot be fully utilized.

In this regard, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation was able to make maximum use of the methodology because it has offices (gas centers) located next to customers’ factory sites and has engaged in operations related to gas supply over many years. Based on the trust it has built with its customers, the company was able to perform detailed adjustments and improvements that reflected end users’ opinions by positioning itself as their joint partner on the project, while reporting and sharing information on the progress of the development and challenges in a timely manner.

Developed through the above-mentioned efforts, IGSS is equipped with the six following functions.

IGSS #01 ceyes
IGSS #02 LUMsystem
IGSS #03 UnaxsⅡ tab
IGSS #03 UnaxsⅡ tab
IGSS #03 UnaxsⅡ tab
IGSS #03 UnaxsⅡ tab

Integrated with advanced technologies, this support system can resolve the challenges faced by gas supplying sites via digital technology. These six services can be used separately in accordance with the customer’s needs.

IGSS is expected to contribute to transforming the business model involving gas supplying operations. The manufacturing business has been shifting toward a type of service business along with the expansion of the IoT, and widespread use of IGSS will help to create a new business that supports improving the efficiency of a variety of operations, in addition to supplying gas.

A function like the labor-saving system for daily inspections is applicable to not only the gas supplying business, but also in a wide array of fields. In particular, as the MCHC group has diverse businesses, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation hopes to collect ideas for a wide range of applications.

However, IGSS is not fully completed yet. Just as the automation level of self-driving cars has increased gradually along with the progress of technology, the level of IGSS can be further raised from the current state. The company will continue incorporating the latest technology into IGSS and advancing the system to pursue an ideal smart factory.

Digital innovation started in the gas industry, where there are many tasks requiring a human workforce. Next, this innovation could realize a smart factory in the future. IGSS serves as the initial step toward this dream.

TOP PAGE

RECOMMEND

SOLUTIONSep 21, 2021

Carbon Fiber & Composites—Aiming to create an eco-friendly future with “light weight and strong materials”

SOLUTIONJun 7, 2021

Precision MedicineーCreating hope for all facing illness

SOLUTIONMar 31, 2021

BioplasticsーContribution to resource circulation