Mitsubishi Electric and Yaskawa Electric are among 100 major Japanese manufacturers preparing to employ blockchain technology to share production data with each other to improve efficiency, according to a June 17th report by the Nikkei.
Manufacturers have traditionally secured production data at their factories because it contains sensitive practices and methods directly linked to their competitiveness. However, Japanese producers now believe that sharing such data would help improve the performance of the entire industry.
Blockchain technology allows participants to decide how much information they want to share, which entities they want to share the information with, and whether to monetize access to the information.
The data-sharing project, expected to begin in spring of next year, will be overseen by the Industrial Value Chain Initiative, a manufacturers’ group launched in 2015 to promote the Internet of Things (IoT) in Japan. Companies had previously been working independently to employ IoT technology at their factories.
Other globally competitive manufacturers are expected to join the initiative. However, the project aims to uplift Japan‘s manufacturing sector as a whole by attracting not just big corporations with advanced production technologies, but also smaller players that are unable to invest large sums.
The data sharing will include product design data, the status of production equipment, and information to do with quality control and inspection.
If machine tool makers and their clients share equipment usage data, they could also gain a better grasp of how parts wear out and how to maintain their equipment more efficiently. They may also be able to predict when machines will break down, so that parts can be procured in advance, reducing maintenance downtime.
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