Business Sites:Production: Energy Conservation / Prevention of Global Warming
–Innovation in Manufacturing Processes–
Innovations in manufacturing processes aimed at reducing CO2 emissions across the entire business operations
- Global/Ricoh Group
One focus of the Ricoh Group's CO2 reduction efforts is promoting innovation in manufacturing processes. Recent key initiatives include increased productivity in the manufacture of copier toner and thermal paper products as well as developing a technology for molding processes with an ultra-short cycle time and dry washing machines used in manufacturing processes for removing residue.
In addition, particular Group-wide efforts are being made to downsize production lines of manufacturing copiers and consumable supplies as an efficient energy-conserving approach. Downsized lines can reduce energy use not only for running manufacturing machinery, but for associated equipment, such as air conditioners and air compressors.
Energy-saving manufacturing process and spillover effects
Highly productive, low environmental impact and highly flexible manufacturing—Ricoh’s original cart production line
- Global/Ricoh Co., Ltd.
As of 2011, the Ricoh Group’s production system is spread over 29 (major) production sites in five global regions: Japan, the Americas, Europe, China, and the Asia-Pacific region. Around 1985, when introduction of OA equipment began to expand in Japan, Ricoh started mass production of imaging equipment such as copiers and printers, through the installation of automated control-based conveyer lines that considerably increased production efficiency. However, copiers subsequently acquired many additional functions, including printing, scanning, and network functions, and in response to diversifying customer needs there was a large increase in the variety of copier models, with the industry entering a period of high-mix low-volume production. The conveyer manufacturing system was suitable for low-mix high-volume production, but not for production equipment model changes or highmix low-volume production. In 1999, Ricoh began gradually eliminating fixed conveyor lines and introducing a layout-free production system capable of responding flexibly to production volume and equipment model changes. In an example of this, the “cart production line,” multiple carts are lined up in a row and powered by air cylinders. The carts move along the production line carrying products. Because huge, high-energy consuming conveyors are not required, this system has brought huge reductions in environmental impact and energy costs;* moreover, because the layout can be freely changed, the formation can be rearranged on a case-by-case basis to suit equipment models and production volumes. In-process inventory, lead time, space, and maintenance are all reduced by 70–80%. In addition, because of the reduction in space, reductions in air-conditioning and lighting costs are also achieved. This cart production line has been improved to be used as a model for introducing the layout-free production system in other production sites around the world.
- *Air cylinders are used to move the carts, enabling a reduction in electricity consumption of 99% compared with conventional conveyor line motors.
Introducing RECO-View RFID tag sheet to optimize parts management
- Japan/Ricoh Gotemba Plant
In August 2009, Ricoh Gotemba Plant introduced Ricoh’s original RECOView RFID* tag rewritable sheet, in pursuit of efficient parts management and environmental impact reduction. The plant uses the innovative sheet for process management concerning manufacturing sites, as well as for management of parts received from and shipped to Atsugi Plant, which delivers parts and units on shelf carts to Gotemba’s copier assembly lines. Information about deliveries, such as item name and quantity, stored in a RECO-View tag sheet, is picked up in the form of RF signals by each gatetype antenna installed at multiple check points along the delivery routes as the cart with the tag sheet attached passes by. This tool supports efficient management of delivery information, including receiving/shipping times, item name, quantity, and destination, by reducing the manual operations involved in receiving/shipping, which typically involves reading bar codes.
In addition, the tool is capable of providing visual data regarding inventory status, in particular inventory period, thus assisting users to efficiently control processes and reduce inventory. Information stored in a RECOView tag sheet is also available in printing on the sheet surface to allow visual checks, which contributes to smooth operations at Gotemba. The Plant anticipates that these efforts will reduce the man hours required for receiving/shipping by 75% and the average inventory period of the parts by 40%. An additional benefit from the introduction of RECO-View is the reduced consumption of paper, previously used for identification tags and instructions/manuals. The resulting effects overall are equivalent to 8.8 tons of CO2 emissions reduction.
- *Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) generally refers to authentication technology using radio frequencies. Recently the term has commonly been used for “non-contact smart cards (chip card).”