Dec 8, 2023TECH & DESIGN
Is Work at Plants Uncreative and Boring?
— The exciting and stimulating work of production engineers as “key players of DX”
DENSO Tech Links #18 featured lectures by engineers and a panel discussion with a special guest regarding the future of monozukuri (manufacturing) envisioned by DENSO on the theme of digital transformation (DX) at manufacturing sites. Mr. Hiroaki Arai of the New Domain Products Production Eng.Dept., Mechatronics Systems Manufacturing Div. explained the challenges of production engineers in promoting DX.
New Domain Products Production Eng.Dept., Mechatronics Systems Manufacturing Div. DENSO CorporationHiroaki Arai
Contents of this article
Hiroaki Arai, General Manager of the New Domain Products Production Eng.Dept
Hiroaki Arai: Good afternoon. I’m Hiroaki Arai from the Mechatronics Systems Manufacturing Div.
I have been in charge of production engineering for 20 years since joining DENSO, and have gained much experience, including the development of the world’s first products, process design, company-wide activities, and launch-up of overseas operations. At present, I work as General Manager of the New Domain Products Production Eng. Dept. of the Mechatronics Systems Manufacturing Div.
Attaining World-class Competitiveness
First, let me give a brief overview of DENSO. DENSO is a very large company with 165,000 employees and revenues of 6.4 trillion yen. It manufactures various products, including in-vehicle mechanical and electronic components and semiconductors.
DENSO also manufactures factory automation (FA) equipment for plants and equipment for the food value chain of agriculture, as shown on the right side of the slide.
DENSO mass-produces ground-breaking, world-class products. It works with global partners and is committed to eliminating even a single defect or the loss of one second. It has achieved world-leading competitiveness through the dedication of its global employees.
Changes in the Business Environment and DX in the Auto Industry
Next, I’ll explain changes and DX in the auto industry.
As you know, the environment surrounding the auto industry and manufacturing has been changing significantly. Carbon neutrality has become increasingly important to mitigate global warming. The workforce has been decreasing due to the declining birthrate and aging population. Gasoline-fueled vehicles are being replaced by EVs due to the mobility revolution.
Under these circumstances, we are using digital technologies to: solve needs flexibly; enable unmanned, autonomous production; control plants remotely; use energy efficiently; eliminate rework; and thereby make work at plants stimulating.
Specifically, we are constantly striving to develop new technologies, such as robots, AI, high-speed communication, digital twins, and production simulators.
Production Engineers: Key Players of DX
Production engineers play a key role in DX. I have been told that many students are attending this seminar, so I’d like to explain what production engineers do.
DENSO’s production engineers are expected to play three main roles: project leaders, system designers, who plan and create new production lines, and engineers focusing on specific engineering technologies, such as processing and automation technologies.
In DX, production engineers play a crucial role in developing digital technologies, constructing production lines by using digital technologies, carrying out projects, and changing plants.
DENSO’s production engineers also play active roles in many other fields, including developing world-leading production technologies, starting up production overseas, managing plant operations, and designing new products.
Introduction of Two Examples
Today, we will introduce two examples. The first example is the Electrification Systems Business Group, where production engineers develop production lines for inverters, which are essential for electrifying vehicles, to quickly meet customers’ needs.
The second example is the Mechatronics Systems Business Unit, where production engineers develop production lines for manufacturing products one after another to solve various issues in the fields of “green,” “peace of mind,” and “society.” The objectives are slightly different, but similar technologies are used to solve issues.
Finally, you may wonder whether working at plants is stimulating. I hope the lectures today will help you realize that the work is very exciting. That’s all for my presentation. Thank you very much.
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