With the framework of competition undergoing a major transformation following the advent of the AI and IoT era, monotsukuri (manufacturing) will require novel thinking and approaches along with innovation with an eye toward the future of the world in five and 10 years into the future.
Daikin is tackling this challenge around the world using collaborative innovation led by industry-industry partnerships.
Daikin is constantly working to achieve a balance between reducing the size and enhancing the performance of each air conditioner component in order to conserve resources. However, this requires an increase in the number of revolutions in compressors and fans, which causes an issue with increased operating noise. At the same time, many countries, including in Europe, have started to tighten their regulations against operating noises for air conditioners. In order to address these issues, Daikin and FUJIFILM Corporation began joint development on noise reduction of air conditioners in fiscal 2019.
In fiscal 2021, the success in the practical application of a new noise reduction technology for air conditioners came as the first result of this development. We tackled the challenge of balancing humidification and ventilation volume with quiet operation that was previously difficult to achieve while reducing operating noise by over 20%. This was achieved by installing ventilating soundproofing material from FUJIFILM on Daikin’s air conditioner with humidifying and ventilating functions. The resulting soundproofed ventilating material was commercialized as an optional “silent humidifying and ventilation kit” for residential air conditioners in spring 2022. In the future, we will continue to work with FUJIFILM in developing technology that will further improve the performance of air conditioners.
It is typically believed that sleep and daytime activities have a mutual effect. In addition, recent neuroscience research has revealed that the more the frontal lobe is activated, the clearer the head and the higher the performance, as well as the easier it is to control one’s emotions, such as exhibiting kindness. At Daikin and KYOCERA, we have conducted joint research on a performance-enhancing waking system to enable the brain to be activated right after waking up and exert high performance based on the belief that a positive waking experience links to healthy daytime activities and restful sleep at night. In verifying the effects of this system, our two companies have joined the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer at Tohoku University in a comparison study between this system and general alarm clocks. The results showed that the system had an effect on the level of brain activation and comfort upon waking.
This represents the world’s first alarm system that promotes brain activation in a comfortable environment by combining air stimulation at a soft and gentle rhythm based on Daikin’s air control technology and CERAPHIC® LED lighting that combines violet LED and RGB phosphor blends technology from KYOCERA which is close to natural light and gentle on our bodies.
Going forward, Daikin and KYOCERA will take on further product development based on the knowledge and experience learned through this joint research.
Daikin and Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. are conducting a joint demonstration experiment on an energy management system that uses air conditioning control and solar power generation at the Rinkai Factory of Daikin’s Sakai Plant.
Solar power has been introduced as a renewable energy source to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is one of the most anticipated low-carbon, home-grown energy sources with the most adopted technology. On the other hand, since the power output is weather dependent, the stable supple of energy from solar power generation presents a challenge. To promote solar power as the main power source, we must create a system capable of adjusting power supply and demand that can nimbly adjust the operation of equipment on the users’ side based on changes in output.
In this demonstration experiment, we installed a solar power generator from Kansai Electric Power at the Rinkai Factory and managed the power supply and demand within the factory using Daikin’s centralized controller, Intelligent Touch Manager*1 (iTM) and Kansai Electric Power’s air conditioner control service, Omaka Save-Air*2. Our goal is to establish a technology that optimizes control of air conditioners, which have a high power consumption ratio, based on the change of power output generated from solar power.
Considering the experiment’s results, we believe it is possible to conserve energy and reduce costs by introducing renewable energy, and that solar power may be one of the initiatives to realize carbon neutrality on the frontline of manufacturing as we pursue decarbonization.
Daikin has engaged in technology exchanges with Daicel Corporation over the course of the last two decades. From 2016, we have been working on co-creation by utilizing Daicel’s strengths in innovative “materials technology” and Daikin’s strengths in “air conditioning elemental technology,” moving beyond our partnership’s previous focus on production innovation. To date, we have continued to expand co-creation aimed at world-first and world-best products that provide value to customers in order to resolve social issues.
As outcomes of co-creation, in fiscal 2020 we jointly developed a moisture-permeable membrane total heat exchange element for ventilation equipment and low pressure drop air filter media for large air conditioners following growing worldwide demand for air quality. In fiscal 2021, we developed a total heat exchange unit equipped with moisture-permeable membrane total heat exchange element, and launched sales in China in August. In addition to its brand new features of barrier capability against viruses, and anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties not found in conventional products, this innovative product is washable and can be disinfected, providing an enhanced level of safety.
Moisture-permeable membrane total heat exchange element
In November 2019, Daikin and Fairy Devices Inc. jointly began working on an initiative to improve work efficiency and quality through the creation of connected workers*1 in service areas such as maintenance and inspections of air conditioners. Fairy Devices will provide its voice recognition, edge AI, and data analysis technologies, while Daikin will contribute its frontline expertise globally, as the two work together to resolve issues faced by service operations.
Specifically, the THINKLET™ smart wearable device and technology stack*2 developed by Fairy Devices and an online app for operational support developed by Daikin are combined to develop a remote work support solution where experienced service engineers can support and train workers remotely. The two companies aim to use this solution to quickly foster talented service engineers while at the same time improving the technical skills and decision-making abilities of workers not only in Japan but around the world, and realizing high quality frontline operations that are highly efficient and sound.
In fiscal 2021, we began to establish and expand our global intellectual properties portfolio in the technical area related to development and improvement of CWS and its practical implementation in frontline processes for air conditioners. In order to establish a de facto standard for DX on the frontline and accelerate global expansion, it is crucial to maintain a large group of patents and IP strategy based on these patents. Our goals are to maintain Daikin’s pioneering advantage in technical areas relevant to our business and expedite DX on the frontline on a global scale through establishing an IP portfolio based on the patents we own, while increasing and expanding the number of global patents. Moreover, by utilizing our intellectual property portfolio for open innovation with other companies, we hope to advance on-site DX that cannot be achieved by two companies alone.
Daikin and Hitachi, Ltd. embarked on a collaborative project to create the next-generation production model using IoT to support skills transfer from expert workers as of October 2017.
Combining Daikin's brazing process, which is part of the manufacturing of air conditioners, and Hitachi's advanced image analysis technology, the solution core of the company's Lumada IoT platform, the demonstration project will digitalize the skills of expert workers and trainees so that these can be compared and analyzed in verifying a production model system. The aim of this project is to achieve uniform quality, improve productivity and foster talent at Daikin's production bases inside and outside of Japan.
In fiscal 2018, a support system for training in brazing techniques was incorporated and began operation at three bases: the Sakai Plant, Shiga Plant, and Daikin Ales Aoya Global Training Center. Toward incorporation of this system at all worldwide bases, in addition to using it for actual skills training, we are improving the system for better ease of use by, for example, standardizing teaching processes using the system, improving display methods, and making it multi-lingual.
Our new R&D effort utilizing image analysis on technology for automatically measuring actual working time and work details of production line workers using images taken with cameras installed on the lines is progressing. At present, we have adopted a time measurement system on all assembly line processes, and we are conducting verification of this technology on the frontline of our production operations. In addition, this system has been adopted for practical use at Rinkai Factory of Sakai Plant.
Daikin has established a collaborative platform called CRESNECT under which it works with a number of partner companies to utilize data gathered from air conditioners in order to come up with new value and services encompassing air and space. Using data that can be gathered from air conditioners, Daikin and the partner companies study how to improve office productivity and maintain worker health and come up with new value and services.
As the first project under CRESNECT, in July 2019 Daikin and partner companies, including Okamura Corporation, Panasonic Corporation Electric Works Company, among others, launched demonstration testing aimed at realizing the office of the future at point 0 marunouchi, a membership-based co-working space in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo. In this trial, members of point 0 marunouchi experience spatial content that is conducive to more efficient and healthy working and that is made possible by pooling state-of-the-art technologies, data, and know-how possessed by the CRESNECT partner companies. The aim is to test out how to build a healthy, comfortable office environment and contribute to the creation of new products and services.
point 0 marunouchi received the gold rank in the WELL Building Standard (WELL v2 pilot), a rating system for offices that aims to create a better living environment. Daikin has designed the layout of ventilation in each room to meet the certification standard in the category of “air and space”. We have enhanced the air ventilation system by adding more high performance air filters to maintain good air quality.
Daikin and Okamura Corporation jointly developed Wind Unit, a fan for office use upon demonstration experiment at point 0 marunouchi. This newly developed product comes as a unit that combines Daikin’s “Wind Creator,” a large format fan that mimics natural wind, with the shelving unit made by office furniture solutions provider, Okamura, in the “Lives” furniture series. The fan provides comfortable wind throughout the entire office that mimics the natural swaying of wind based on measurement data from Karuizawa. It also functions to even out inconsistent air flow resulting from different office layouts, which also improves ventilation efficiency.
This product was developed based on Wind Creator installed at point 0 marunouchi following user feedback from the office. In response to many users’ request for the product to be commercialized, we began launching the product as one of the office solutions provided by Okamura. This marks the first product created as a result of the demonstration experiment project conducted at point 0 marunouchi.
In September 2021, Daikin held a technical briefing session for reporters from newspapers and news agencies on strengthening technology development capabilities under our Fusion 25 Strategic Management Plan. The session promoted external co-creation and 14 people representing 13 agencies participated both in person and online. We received positive feedback from participants, including “I am very inspired by the length Daikin has gone to provide such detailed information on their technology, which serves value,” and “I had some understanding of the text but this presentation brought my understanding to a whole new level. There are many technology and initiative themes I am interested in, which I hope to connect with my future interviews.” We hope to continue our active dissemination of technology to the outside for more people to know about Daikin, which could potentially link to collaboration.
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