Monday, March 18, 2013

No. 701: Noncontact power feeding for EV on the road without a charging cable (March 18, 2013)

Toa Road developed a pavement technology that charges electric vehicles while they are traveling and making a stop on the road. The noncontact power feeding charges EVs on the road using the feeding coil buried in the road. The power reception coil of an EV generates electricity with the magnetic energy coming from the feeding coil in the road.

The company developed a special flexible cement material to prevent the feeding coil from being damaged by heat and pressure while the road is being paved. This material made it possible to bury the feeding coil about 4 cm below the road surface. The newly-developed technology reduced the construction cost to one third of the existing technology, and it is easily applicable to the existing paved roads. Nissan cooperated with Toa Road by offering its EV.

Nissan’s noncontact charging system

Enjoy a trip in Tokyo aboard a 
noncontact charging bus by Hino Motors

Saturday, March 9, 2013

No. 700: Optimizing the production in a virtual plant with the aid of big data (March 8, 2013)

Fujitsu plans to review staff assignment and working process substantially and construct the optimal mass production line by utilizing the simulation technology. The optimal mass production line will be introduced to the 15 major plants in a few years, and the system will be put on the market. The Japanese manufacturing industry has been maintaining the strong competitive edge through constant improvement activities (Kaizen). Fujitsu wishes to strengthen its competitive edge with the computer technology that analyzes big data and construct highly efficient production lines for successful competition in the global market.

With the development of simulation technology, it is now possible to decide staff assignment and equipment layout to maximize the productivity on the computer screen. The system Fujitsu plans to develop will utilize big data that include the work sequence of each worker and information on parts and components. Data to figure out the optimal line will increase tremendously if they contain information even on the finger movements of each worker. Using the new system, the company will input information on about 6,000 parts of the smartphone and work sequence and display a virtual mass production line on the computer screen to construct the most productive line.

The period required from the development to mass production will be about three months that is half of the current level because it is no longer necessary to construct a line for improvement. The efforts to utilize IT technology for more efficient production and product development are in progress in various industries in Japan. Nissan has set up a system to develop prototype vehicles for the world market intensively in its Zama plant. The company optimized the moves of robots and assembling procedures, and successfully reduced the number of frequency to build prototype vehicles. It reduced the preparation period for mass production from more than one year to half a year.  

Creation of work instruction  

Fujitsu’s virtual product simulator 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

No. 699: Shinkansen grows faster to open up new possibilities (March 7, 2013)

JR East will start to operate a new model of “Hayabusa (Falcon)” Shinkansen train starting on March 16 at an operating speed of 320 km/h with the revision of new train schedule. A test-ride event was held today for the press. President of JR East told that the 320 km/h operating speed is very high level in the world and expected to open up new possibilities.

The Hayabusa travels between Tokyo and Aomori in about three hours. Although the Hayabusa has the ability to travel at 320 km/h, the maximum speed was set at 300 km/h since it started the service in March 2011. The nose of the train became sharper and longer to reduce air resistance, and noise and waver inside and outside of the train were reduced. The new model has the gran class that is more gorgeous than the first-class.  

The Hayabusa (Falcon) bullet train

Enjoy a travel aboard a Hayabusa 

The gorgeous Gran Class

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

No. 698: New CMOS sensor to produce a clear video even by moonlight from Canon (March 6, 2013)

Canon developed a new CMOS sensor that can produce a clear video even by moonlight. It has three times higher sensitivity than the conventional CCD. While a camera with the conventional CCD reproduces only facial contour, one with the new CMOS sensor can reproduce the facial expression clearly even with the light created by an incense stick. The company increased the size of the picture element by more than 7.5 times of the highest grade single-lens reflex and incorporated the technology to eliminate noise from video signal, and successfully improved both sensitivity and video quality simultaneously.

The company plans to apply the new CMOS sensor to surveillance cameras and astronomical observation in a few years. Combining the new sensor with its advanced lens technology will make it possible to get a clear video from far away even at night. The new sensor is the critical technology for Canon that plans to develop the security business using its know-how on camera business with a view to achieving sales of 100 billion yen in 4-5 years. For further details in English, please click here. 

 A prototype camera that incorporates 
the newly developed CMOS sensor

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

No. 697: Toyota’s ultra small concept EV makes a debut in Geneva (March 5, 2013)

Toyota’s i-ROAD made a debut in the Geneva Auto Show that started today in Geneva of Switzerland. A total of 900 vehicles from around the world are displayed, of which 100 are newly-built vehicles like Toyota’s i-ROAD that is a concept car of Toyota’s ultra small EV. The driver can drive an i-ROAD as if he rides a motorcycle. It is expected to contribute to solving problems arising from the shortage of parking space in the urban area.

Toyota is scheduled to start a demonstrative experiment of car-sharing for short distance travel in France in collaboration with Electricite de France starting late 2014. The vehicle to be used in the experiment will be based on the i-ROAD and Toyota’s COMS. Toyota will provide a total of 70 ultra small EVs to the Grenoble metropolis in France. This is part of the eco city development project fostered by Grenoble. This is an epoch-making project to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and atmospheric contaminants. Toyota will also provide an information management system named “One Mile Mobility Operation Management System” that allows for easy reservation of a vehicle and confirmation of the position and availability of a vehicle with a help of smartphone.  

Toyota’s ultra small vehicle i-ROAD

Toyota’s ultra small vehicle COMS

Monday, March 4, 2013

No. 696: Applying an aqueous paint to the resin parts of information technology equipment (March 4, 2013)

Fujitsu developed an aqueous paint that can be applied to the resin parts of information technology equipment in alliance with its subsidiary Fujitsu Laboratories. Because moisture needs to be dried at a high temperature, an aqueous paint is not suitable for application to resin parts. The company improved the existing aqueous paint to make it dried at a relatively low temperature. By mixing a fine particle with atwo-layer structure of hard resin and soft resin with pigment, it successfully developedan aqueous resin that can be dried at 65 degrees centigrade. Fujitsu applied the new aqueous paint to the outer packaging of its servers for the first time, and plans to increase the number of products in the future.

As an oil paint generally needs to be diluted with such solvents as toluene and xylene, it generates volatile organic compound (VOC) that causes a photochemical smog. If an oil paint is replaced by the new aqueous paint, a large amount of solvent for dilution can be reduced. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Environment, paint is most responsible for VOC emission, accounting for about 40% of total VOC emission, in 2010. In the auto industry, lots of efforts are being made to replace oil paints with aqueous paints to reduce VOC emissions.

Comparison of components in 
solvent-based and water-based paints

Saturday, March 2, 2013

No. 695: Hitachi Zosen’s GTL technology goes to the U.S. (March 2, 2013)

Business trend:
Hitachi Zosen will market Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) equipment in the U.S. to participate in the growingly brisk shale gas business. GTL technology is to produce light oil, heating oil, and naphtha from natural gas by a chemical reaction. Natural gas prices declined sharply due to dramatically increasing shale gas production in the U.S. Although GTL is an advanced technology, it is being applied only in a few countries including Qatar because of high natural gas prices. The situation has changed. Now, leading oil companies worldwide are expected to start the GTL business to liquefy natural gas locally.

Hitachi Zosen is trying to market the reactor to react gas substances at a high temperature and under high pressure to produce synthetic oil. Being the core equipment of GTL technology, it is a hug vessel that is 50 m high and 10 m in diameter, and it weighs 2,000 tons. A highly sophisticated technology is required to increase the sealability. Currently, only four companies have enough technological competence to built vessels of this kind. It is about 10 billion yen per unit. The energy revolution initiated by shale gas is creating lots of business opportunities for related industries.  

A substantiative plant of GTL technology

Friday, March 1, 2013

No. 694: An unmanned exploration robot from Shimizu (March 1, 2013)

Shimizu developed an unmanned exploration robot “Robo Scope” in alliance with Tohoku University and International Rescue System. The Robo Scope can advance into wreckage in a destroyed building. The exploration unit that is an about 70 mm in diameter and 10 m long hose has a camera on its top, and the operator can operate it by remote control outside the robot as if he operate a home video game machine.

The Robo Scope is lifted by a construction crane and put inside through an opening of a destroyed building. The exploration unit is covered by slanted cilia, and the self-contained vibration motor creates the propulsion force to the insertion direction. The demonstration experiment was conducted in a full-scale mockup that duplicates a destroyed building. The research team plans to add the position detecting function to the unit for better operability and durability, and put it into practical application in less than one year.    

An unmanned exploration robot developed by Shimizu