Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Better lettuce is first fruit of Microsoft and Fujitsu industrial IoT collaboration

Steve Rogerson
April 16, 2015
At this week’s Hannover Fair, Japanese company Fujitsu and Microsoft announced their collaboration to bring operational excellence to manufacturing, starting with better quality lettuce.
With the help of Fujitsu devices powered by Windows 8.1 Pro, the IoT services of Fujitsu Cloud A5 for Microsoft Azure, and the Fujitsu IoT-M2M platform, the companies are working together to use the latest technology to improve manufacturing capabilities.
Having recognised a need to optimise processing by both machines and humans, Fujitsu has brought together its Eco-Management Dashboard, the IoT-M2M platform, Microsoft cloud services and Windows tablets in a way that could let managers, engineers and scientists improve product quality, streamline systems and enhance functionality while reducing costs.
"Leveraging the Fujitsu Eco-Management Dashboard alongside Microsoft Azure and the Fujitsu IoT-M2M platform, we are able to deliver real-time visualisation of the engineering process for big data analytics to improve the entire production process and inform decision-making," said Hiroyuki Sakai, executive vice president at Fujitsu.
This is based on the work Fujitsu performed in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan. Fujitsu converted its semiconductor manufacturing operations into its Akisai plant factory, a large-scale facility that integrates agricultural techniques with manufacturing, information and communications technologies, such as the Fujitsu Akisai agricultural cloud.
At this facility, Fujitsu is using a portion of its clean room areas to produce lettuce that is both delicious and low in potassium so it can be consumed by dialysis patients and people with chronic kidney disease. As a next step, Fujitsu is deploying its Eco-Management Dashboard and applying its IoT and M2M capabilities to realise higher-quality products, enhanced functionality and better productivity.
As part of this, scattered data are input into the Microsoft Azure database and evaluated through analytics and natural user interfaces. The Eco-Management Dashboard helps simultaneously manage product quality, process efficiency and equipment performance to improve operations and reduce energy costs. This can be replicated by other manufacturers and will be a step in helping companies manage and consume data in the right ways, increasing productivity while saving time and money.
"We are proud to partner with Fujitsu to enable the next generation of manufacturing business models and services enabled by IoT along with advanced analytics capabilities like machine learning," said Sanjay Ravi, managing director of discrete manufacturing industry at Microsoft. "Fujitsu's innovation will drive new levels of operational excellence and accelerate the pace of digital business transformation in manufacturing.”