Okura Yusoki Group’s Remote Support with Predictive and Preventive Maintenance Protects Customer Production Sites 24/7

REMOTE SUPPORT WITH PREVENTIVE AND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE SERVICES

Okura Yusoki Group supports manufacturer distribution operations, including major beverage companies, food companies, and mail-order companies, by supplying logistics equipment and proposing solutions. Okura Yusoki has incorporated Secomea’s SiteManager into its palletizing robots, which place goods onto pallets as they flow down conveyors, and provides remote access in order to monitor operating status and furnish maintenance support. At the same time, the company has launched a preventive maintenance service project that predicts when a machine might fail by incorporating an IoT gateway to collect and analyze robot data, including torque data.

 

The challenge:
SEEKING TO MINIMIZE CUSTOMER EQUIPMENT DOWNTIME

In the event of a problem, the situation cannot be clearly diagnosed until a service engineer visits the site, which means that Okura Yusoki cannot fully prepare for resolution of the problem and production must be shut down.

The need for 24/7 operations has increased in recent years, and the key issue is how quickly a company can respond to failures and minimize facility downtime. With past problems, the customer would have to make a call and the service engineer would have to visit the production site.

“It is difficult to know exactly what the problem is until you visit the site, so we cannot prepare adequately, and our customers have to shut down their equipment until our visit. In addition, parts may need to be arranged after visiting the site, which further delays repair. In the past, some customers had to stop their operation for several days. To improve this maintenance system and avoid shutdown, we discussed the possibility of implementing remote access to identify problems before visiting sites. With such a system, operation could be restored sooner, contributing to the stability of customer facilities„

– Mr. Kazuhiro Watanabe General Manager, Construction Technology Research
and Development Department, Engineering Division, Okura Service Co., Ltd.

The solution:
Implementation of a software version of the remote access solution

Okura Yusoki began searching for a remote access solution to be incorporated into the latest models of palletizing robots. Hideki Sawada, the R&D Department engineer who is mainly in charge of the Robot Palletizer series software, took the lead in finding a solution for this project. He said that security was his top priority.

As a matter of fact, the robot palletizers exported to Europe and the United States, where it is difficult to send service engineers immediately after a failure, have long been equipped with hardware with remote access to monitor functions. While the VPN mechanism was used for the US market, the hardware version of Secomea SiteManager was installed for the European market.

SiteManager, which is connectable to all kinds of industrial machinery and equipment and functions as a gateway for remote access, does not rely on routing technology and allows remote access only to pre-registered devices. Only SiteManager can connect to the internet, which makes the solution extremely secure

“In comparison to other solutions, we have always had high confidence in Secomea SiteManager because of its superior security. We also highly appreciate its ease of remote access„

– Mr. Hideki Sawada, Engineer, R&D Department, R&D Division, Okura Yusoki Co., Ltd.

Sawada explains why they chose the software version over the hardware version used in previous products:

“Separate installation of IoT gateways and remote access hardware would require more space at customer sites and increase installation cost. On the other hand, if remote access software is integrated into the IoT gateway system, it can be installed in a smaller space at a lower cost. SiteManager’s availability in a software version was one of the deciding factors.”

Older products are equipped with a hardware version of SiteManager, while the latest models have a software version integrated into the IoT gateway system.

The Result:
Smooth trouble-shooting expedites repair

How have maintenance services changed after implementing the solution?

The results have not yet been measured quantitatively, as not many problems have occurred during the short period since implementation; however, Mr. Watanabe stresses that the system has definitely made it easier to deal with problems. There has been no issue with SiteManager Embedded itself at this time, either.
Launch of predictive and preventive maintenance for nonstop sites.

“Using Secomea’s remote access solution and Okura Yusoki’s self-developed IoT gateway, our engineers can now monitor the status and operational data of customer equipment without having to travel. With the installation of a web camera for clear visuals, we can now discover how a problem occurred before visiting the site. This kind of information was difficult to obtain over the telephone. Now we are able to repair equipment more quickly and are enjoying the benefits of remote access„

– Mr. Hideki Sawada, Engineer, R&D Department, R&D Division, Okura Yusoki Co., Ltd.
.

Preventive and predictive maintenance as a service

In addition to using this remote access function and IoT to remotely observe equipment status and provide maintenance support, Okura Yusoki has also launched predictive and preventive maintenance as a new service. This service analyzes and diagnoses operating data to detect changes in equipment conditions and signs of deterioration. By predicting abnormalities and failures in operation, the system prevents unexpected emergency stoppages and contributes to the realization of nonstop production sites.

These predictive and preventive maintenance services are currently being offered on a trial basis for some customer facilities, and the company plans to expand coverage and enhance prediction accuracy. “We will continue to make a group-wide effort to deliver predictive and preventive maintenance,” Watanabe enthuses.

Creating non-stop production for customers

This time, Okura Yusoki implemented the software version of SiteManager in addition to the hardware version used for their older models. The company plans to incorporate the software version in products for which the IoT gateway has already been developed, such as palletizing robots, and to use the hardware version in products for which development has not been completed. In both versions, Okura Group will continue to incorporate remote access functions into various products and provide predictive and preventive maintenance services in addition to remote monitoring and maintenance support, with the aim of creating nonstop production for customers.

Ahead of the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding, a new building is under construction at Okura Transport Corporation and is scheduled for completion in 2021, which will also mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of Okura Service. Secomea’s solution will continue to support Okura Yusoki Group as it provides value to its customers into the future.

The new head office building under construction.

ABOUT OKURA YUSOKI GROUP

Okura Yusoki Group supports manufacturer distribution operations, including major beverage companies, food companies, and mail-order companies, by supplying logistics equipment and proposing solutions. The company is often called “Okura Conveyors” because its signature products are a wide range of conveyor-based equipment, including automatic sorting systems and palletizing systems. Okura Yusoki, a long-established company celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2027, supports nonstop logistics systems with its equipment and systems.

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