In late August, CNC manufacturer Okuma won the Good Factory Award issued by the Japan Management Association for Dream Site 2. The facility incorporates state-of-the-art innovations developed by the company’s machining experts to achieve high mix, low volume production at productivity levels on par with those of mass production. The site was praised for its comprehensive and coherent use of digitalisation, its high degree of automation as well as for its ability to continuously optimise processes through real-time data processing.

At Dream Site 2 (DS2) Okuma produces a large variety of parts for its machining centres. All elements of DS2 are connected via the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to enable real-time process tracking. This is achieved by employing Okuma’s smart factory solution Connect Plan. It provides a comprehensive visualisation of the factory displaying each machine’s status and is integrated with state-of-the-art production planning systems.

Smart through and through

All machining data is stored and processed in real-time, so that DS2 ‘learns’ and improves on a daily basis. In this way, downtimes can be reduced to an absolute minimum. AI-assisted predictive maintenance based on the analysis of big data further helps to prevent machine stops. Since the factory was commissioned, productivity has increased by 30 percent and lead times were shortened by half.

Digital twin prevents costly errors

Another core feature is Okuma’s 3D Virtual Monitor. The application creates a digital twin of the entire machine setup based on the exact machining data. The twin recreates everything from fixtures to raw materials and tools. This allows a completely accurate simulation of the planned machining process. Operators can work out the entire setup beforehand without occupying the actual machine. In conjunction with Okuma’s Collision Avoidance System, this simulation helps to detect and prevent costly errors and potential collisions before they can occur, thus saving operators time and money.

Advanced automation

Production at DS2 is highly automated. The site is self-contained from start to finish. Workpieces are moved by automatic guided vehicles (AGV) such as autonomous forklifts. Even the workpiece setup is handled by robots in the facility’s large number of flexible manufacturing cells. The extraordinary level of automation ensures that efficiency throughout the high-mix, low-volume production remains high, as it helps to reduce downtimes and errors while increasing quality.

Award considers many aspects

The Good Factory Award acknowledges improvements of production sites in Asia. The jury not only evaluates technical aspects, such as automation levels, overall productivity and process optimisation, but also shop-floor know-how, worker attitudes and social contributions. Out of the four awarded categories Okuma won the “Monozukuri (Manufacturing) Innovation Award”. ‘Monozukuri’ is the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement of production processes to reach perfection. Tried and tested at the company’s now award-winning facilities, Okuma has made solutions such as Connect Plan, 3D Virtual Monitor and its Collision Avoidance System available to customers.