Efficiency since 20 years

Promoting an eco-conscious initiative for plant diagnostics and optimization at Omron plant in Kyoto, Japan

  • February 13, 2015
  • Efficiency since 20 years
    Efficiency since 20 years
  • Efficiency since 20 years
    Efficiency since 20 years
  • Efficiency since 20 years
    Efficiency since 20 years
  • Efficiency since 20 years
    Efficiency since 20 years

OMRON Corporation received the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Prize (METI Minister's Prize) in the Energy-saving Activities Category. OMRON was awarded this highest honor for the environmentally-responsible initiative implemented at its Ayabe Plant in Kyoto. In October 2010, the Ayabe Plant launched an initiative to further enhance energy-saving efforts at its production site. Through this initiative to maximize energy efficiency, the Ayabe Plant aimed at cutting energy usage in specified areas to half the existing level by the end of fiscal 2013. In order to better understand what we are talking of, the Ayabe plant consists of a site area of about 165,000 m2 and has a total floor area of 33,000 m2 . The number of employees is about 900 units and its business is the production and development of a wide range of sensors for factory automation. Ayabe Plant started waste recycling in 1995. Thanks to enhanced awareness toward waste recycling among the employees, recycling rate has been 100% since 2002. Electricity is generated by LNG (liquefied natural gas) while residual heat is used for air conditioning. Efficient use of energy leads to the reduction of CO2 emissions (introduced in 2005). A power consumption display monitor controls power consumption of each plant building in detail (since 2001). Weekly power consumption data is available for everyone. These data are used to check for wasteful use of electricity (since 2002). Charging electricity expenses to the department that consumed electricity enhances awareness toward power saving and give a wide and clever sense of responsibility to each managers.

Throughout the years Ayabe Plant sets several environmental activities like:

  • 1996 - ISO14001 (Environmental management) certification
  • 2000 - Electricity consumption visual representation system introduced
  • 2002 - Achievement of zero-emissions (recycling of all waste products)
  • 2005 - Cogeneration systems installed 
  • 2006 - Awarded Kyoto Prefecture's "Top Runner" environmental award

From October 2010 we have focused on power-saving and environmental activities such as:

  • Power-saving efforts and also target automated factory machinery
  • Power consumption display monitors and environmental sensors network
  • Maximization of energy efficiency and "Just-in-time" energy management

The ultimate goal is to become the "No. 1 eco-factory in the industry." To this end, the Ayabe Plant has installed a variety of sensors and its own Andon diagnostic system for power usage. Andon is a manufacturing term referring to a system to notify management, maintenance, and other workers of a quality or process problem. The core of this complex system is a signboard incorporating signal lights to indicate which workstation or part of the plant has the problem. The alert can be activated manually by a worker using a pull cord or pushbutton, or may be activated automatically by the production equipment itself. Some modern alert systems incorporate audio alarms, text, or other displays. This enabled real-time monitoring and diagnoses of events for which no improvements had been possible up till then due to time-consuming examination and analysis processes. This in turn helped facility management staff (suppliers of energy) and factory operators (users of energy) to work collaboratively to promote energy conservation.

A key and crucial step has been to pass from a pure Diagnosis system where specialists and persons in charge have a look and obtain information, check and recognize abnormal conditions and understand data to the"Environmental Andon" system "Analysis" through which you can analyze each production management unit and make necessary action to improve them. In that sense all the staff members analyze, feel and touch the system at first. Then they clarify the gap between the ideal and the current status. Awareness is raising the same framework with production management. All front-line staff can use the system to analyze conditions at any time and therefore it can be used as a communication tool for several improvements.

Herewith attached there are some "Environmental Andon" innovations:

  • Real-time display and warning of abnormal conditions
  • Easy-to-use. All staff can use the system to analyze conditions at any time.
  • Discussions can be held by staff about actual environmental conditions in the factory based on comprehensive data. The system also encourages discussion about issues identified on the factory floor and ideas for improvement.

Herewith the installed sensor type and the number of sensors:

  • Power monitor - 102 units
  • Simplified power logger - 6 units
  • Particle sensor - 34 units
  • Temperature and humidity sensor - 22 units
  • Air flow sensor - 14 units
  • Pressure sensor - 10 units
  • Pressure difference sensor - 8 units
  • Static electricity sensor - 2 units

As a result of these efforts, the Ayabe Plant was able to reduce power consumed by clean rooms (which require a large amount of electricity) by 50%. At the same time, the amount of air-borne dust was reduced by two-thirds. This is one example of 27 documented improvements that the plant had achieved by June 2012 by cutting power usage while maintaining or enhancing productivity and product quality. As of today, the number of documented improvements has increased to 45.

Main energy-saving/eco improvements: a total of 45 energy-saving/eco improvements have been achieved so far including the following:

  • Cost unit for clean room production electricity 50% reduction   
  • Printing process booth electricity 50% reduction
  • Clean room air consumption 50% reduction
  • Clean unit electricity 40% reduction
  • Molding machinery electricity 35% reduction (down-time saving)
  • Compressor electricity 28% reduction (air enhancement)
  • Clean environment particle level reduced by more than two thirds

About the OMRON Andon Environmental Information System

Unlike a conventional system designed to make power consumption visible for energy conservation managers and experts, OMRON's Andon environmental information system is capable of providing diagnostics for power usage conditions. Originally developed by the Ayabe Plant, the Andon system facilitates communication among all production-related staff members regarding energy conservation and environmental improvement.
At the Ayabe Plant, several Andon systems are installed on the factory floor to constantly monitor a variety of sensor-detected information relating to production, such as power usage, temperature/humidity, air flow, and dust particle count, along with production data. By keeping track of various information items and past records together, the Ayabe Plant has promoted efforts to improve energy efficiency in its production process.

By Paolo Cavallanti, Energy Efficiency Automation Manager, OMRON Europe