Toyota and Hitachi collaborate on high-efficiency production model

Toyota and Hitachi collaborate on high-efficiency production model

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) and Hitachi have announced that they will embark on a collaborative creation to build a high-efficiency production model using an IoT platform.

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The two companies will conduct verification at Toyota's model plants (Toyota, Aichi Prefecture) starting from this October. Through this verification, they intend to establish a platform using Hitachi's IoT platform 'Lumada', which utilises the latest digital technologies such as AI and big data analysis. Using this platform to solve various issues at manufacturing sites allows the Plan-Do-Check-Act, also called the Deming Cycle (PDCA) to be accelerated and new issues to be identified and solved from the viewpoint of total optimisation, resulting in further improvement in quality and productivity.

As a specific theme of this verification, Toyota and Hitachi plan to establish a system that prevents unexpected facility failures through big data analysis and extend the system to other processes to further improve the efficiency of maintenance work. They also plan to acquire and analyse product data that spreads across multiple processes to conduct verifications to further stabilise quality. Toyota and Hitachi aim to utilise this IoT platform, establish a high-efficiency production model with an accelerated PDCA cycle, and conduct verifications throughout various processes and themes to verify the effects so that quality and productivity can be improved.

Toyota and Hitachi intend to make further use of the data, new technologies, and know-how that will be obtained in this verification, and strive to cultivate human resources in the IoT field, and create new value to offer business solutions for manufacturing sites and business operations.

Asahi Glass and Toyota co-develop energy-saving glass systems

Asahi Glass and Toyota co-develop energy-saving glass systems

Asahi Glass (AGC) and Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) have jointly started development of a glass structure, the 'Ceiling-mounted Double Skin System' using Coolverre, an automotive glass designed for use in car windshields.

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The Ceiling-mounted Double Skin System is designed to enhance energy savings of buildings such as showrooms, capable of being flexibly opened or closed in response to weather conditions. After finalising product specifications and safety and performance testing, the companies plan to launch sales of the product in the spring of 2018, mainly targeting car dealership showrooms and office buildings.

In 2015, TMC formulated its 'Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050' as part of its aim to create a society in which people and cars coexist in harmony with nature. Among its various initiatives to reduce the CO2 emissions of vehicles, production plants, and related facilities, TMC has developed and commercialised an 'opening-closing type basic double skin' for dealership showrooms, and a 'dispersion type double skin' for small- to medium-sized offices. TMC brought the concept of commercialising new, environmentally friendly double-skin products to AGC, which has a strong track record in energy-saving replacement glass products, and this led to the start of this development effort.
Key features of the 'Ceiling-mounted Double Skin System' are as follows:

Highly effective in reducing air conditioning load

  • Adopts AGC's Coolverre (IR- and UV-cut glass), an automotive glass with highly effective thermal insulating properties
  • A fan blows hot air between the external glass and product thus boosting air conditioner efficiency
  • When heating the indoor space, the double skin functions to decrease heat loss.

Dual layer composition

  • Upper panel: Superior light- and heat-shielding sheets
  • Lower panel: Coolverre, which ensures good visibility and heat insulation
  • Combining these technologies makes installation in high ceilings possible.

Significant reduction in weight and installation cost

  • Thin sheet glass used in the lower panel contributes to a significant weight reduction
  • Weight reduction target is one-fifth that of conventional double skin systems
  • Installation costs can be greatly reduced.

Facilitates flexible opening and closing

  • Can be stored away like a curtain on days in which they are not needed.


Coolverre is automotive glass designed for use in car windshields. An infrared (IR) blocking agent has been infused into the interlayer enabling this laminated glass to block over 90% of IR rays, the main cause of the burning sensation on the skin caused by sunlight.
It also cuts approximately 99% of ultraviolet (UV) rays which are said to cause sunburn and blemishes.

Thin sheet glass

This glass offers the benefits of improved strength over ordinary soda-lime glass, which is widely and commonly used for plate glass, and is also damage-resistant despite its thinness.
This chemically reinforced glass is used in general architectural applications and also contributes to weight reduction in such products as solar panels and lighting equipment.

Mitsubishi Electric's new driver and passenger monitoring camera

Mitsubishi Electric's new driver and passenger monitoring camera

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed the first in-vehicle driver monitoring system using one wide-angle camera to detect the driver and front passenger simultaneously.

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The technology is expected to contribute to enhanced driving safety and when it launches commercially sometime from around 2018. Mitsubishi Electric will exhibit its driver monitoring system during the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017 at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition complex in Tokyo from October 27 to November 5.

Conventional driver-monitoring systems generally use a camera to analyse the driver's face for inattentiveness or drowsiness. Recent imaging systems monitor not only the driver but also the front passenger for added safety and convenience.

Mitsubishi Electric has now developed a technology that uses just one wide-angle camera to monitor both the driver and the front passenger and warn them about potentially dangerous driving behaviour, such as looking off to the side or sleepiness, and to identify face and hand gestures for enhanced assistance, such as changing air conditioning settings.

PSA Group chooses Seattle to launch Free2Move mobility brand in the US

PSA Group chooses Seattle to launch Free2Move mobility brand in the US

On October 4 in Seattle, Groupe PSA has taken its latest step in the North American market with the launch of Free2Move, a smartphone-based mobility aggregation platform positioned to meet changing customer demands.

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With the app', Free2Move allows users in Seattle to compare the location, characteristics and operating costs of available transportation options, including offerings from Car2Go, Zipcar then TravelCar. Free2Move will also be adding several bike sharing services over the next 60-days, including Ofo Bike, Lime Bike and Spin Bike. The service is positioned to help solve challenges from contemporary trends such as urbanisation and digitisation.

"The decision to launch a service that helps people move around in the most efficient way underscores our commitment to the future of Groupe PSA," said Groupe PSA's North America President and CEO, Larry Dominique. "As mobility services evolve and innovate based on the way people think about and consume mobility, bringing Free2Move stateside provides us with a unique way to address consumer demands, as well as a flexible platform to roll out future products."

With Free2Move, consumers can schedule or immediately access the transportation of their choice for a period ranging from a few minutes to several days. The service has rapidly expanded throughout Europe and is currently available in 7 countries in France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Austria and Sweden, with 400,000 customers and some thirty operators. The launch in the U.S. represents the latest step in Groupe PSA's "Push to Pass" global growth initiative, unveiled in April, 2016.

"We're pleased to announce today that we will begin our North American operations in Seattle," said Groupe PSA Senior Vice President of Mobility, Brigitte Courtehoux. "As we begin to add more providers and roll out to new cities, Free2Move will enrich the lives of Americans who embrace innovative, non-traditional forms of transportation."

With its functionality and consumer ease-of-use, Free2Move will add to numerous efforts supporting The City of Seattle's efforts to develop efficient mobility. On hand for the launch of Free2Move was Scott Kubly, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) who discussed the City's recent "New Mobility Playbook."

DHL StreetScooter moves into supplier plant to ramp up e-van production

DHL StreetScooter moves into supplier plant to ramp up e-van production

A subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group, StreetScooter, confirmed that its second manufacturing facility will be built in Düren and be capable of producing up to 10,000 e-vehicles per year.

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Operations at the 78,000 square-metre facility, owned by the automotive supplier Neapco, will begin in the second quarter of 2018. The new site will employ some 250 people in the area. With factories in both Aachen and Düren, StreetScooter will reach the production capacities announced this year of up to 20,000 e-vehicles per annum, with another expansion possible if the facility switches to two or even three shift operations.

"We are now beginning the next phase of development at StreetScooter and showing the world the extraordinary powers of innovation at Deutsche Post DHL," said Jürgen Gerdes, CEO of Post – eCommerce – Parcel at Deutsche Post DHL Group. "Our goal is and remains market leadership in green logistics. We will therefore continue to focus on e-mobility and other alternative drive concepts to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Deutsche Post DHL Group testing cars with fuel cell drives

With Deutsche Post DHL Group and a number of third-party customers looking to cost-effectively increase range for use in other applications, the company is now producing the currently available model also with boosted performance: Joining the current vehicle that features a range of 80 kilometres and a top speed of approximately 85 km/h will be a new model that boasts a range of 200 kilometres and a top speed of around 120 km/h.

In addition, Deutsche Post is now testing several hundred StreetScooter WORK L's equipped for the first time with fuel cell drives. These vehicles could travel over 500 kilometres and Deutsche Post DHL Group is planning test runs for the next two years.

Industry-specific solutions

For its third-party sales, StreetScooter is dedicating more of its efforts to industry-specific solutions. The best example is the so-called "Bakery Vehicle One" (BV1), an electric 3.5 ton van that the company has developed together with bakery companies for bakeries and other trades. In response to a fruitless search for a cost-effective electric van for their own businesses, some 200 small businesses had formed an "e-van self-help group" and issued a call for tenders to find a suitable e-vehicle. StreetScooter and others participated. The result: Ten versions of the BV1 each with two battery sizes are now available for ordering. Chassis variants will be built by StreetScooter in partnership with the company TBZ Fahrzeugbau. Prices start at €42,950, ($50,600), €38,950 once the €4,000 environmental bonus has been deducted. StreetScooter has already received more than 100 advance orders.

Other industries also have a need for customised e-vans, and StreetScooter is already either in talks or enjoying active business relationships with them. They are energy providers, waste disposal companies, municipalities and airports, facility management enterprises and catering companies. StreetScooter will produce variants tailored to serve a variety of individual needs with such features as variable loading volumes that include power supply, refrigerated containers and tilting load platforms.

"The boost in production capacity will make us better and faster in our efforts to serve third-party customers and meet their heavy demand for our e-vehicles," explained Achim Kampker, CEO of StreetScooter. "In addition, our industry focus and flexible manufacturing methods have put us in a position to produce electric vehicles customised for customers from industry, municipalities and trade. That is something unique on the commercial vehicles market."

SEAT is 'Breaking FAB' at its Martorell plant with an innovation programme

SEAT is 'Breaking FAB' at its Martorell plant with an innovation programme

SEAT has launched an open innovation programme aimed at recruiting talent outside the company to accelerate the 4.0 transformation of its factory in Martorell.

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Under the concept "Breaking FAB", SEAT is inviting entrepreneurs and startups, designers, students and researchers from around the world to become familiar with its major digital challenges in the production environment and put forward creative, innovative solutions to address them.

The goal of "Breaking FAB" is to incorporate creativity and innovation as an essential part of SEAT's production process, by applying a different approach which is open to external talent that can enhance new forms of collaboration.

At an event scheduled for next 26 October, SEAT is opening the Martorell factory to professionals who share SEAT's passion for innovation and technology. While touring the core of the company, participants will become familiar with the challenges for which they can suggest their ideas. For example, SEAT is looking to incorporate creative methods to verify the colour consistency among the different parts of vehicles or detect possible defects on smooth surfaces, which are processes currently carried out almost exclusively manually.

SEAT Vice-president for Production Dr. Andreas Tostmann pointed out that "SEAT is in a constant process of fostering innovation, as this initiative is clearly reflects. In recent years we have made Martorell one of the smartest, most digitised in the sector. With this initiative, we are opening our doors to external talent to take a step forward in our 4.0 transformation".

In terms of production, Martorell is Spain's most important car factory, and it has been recognised with the Lean & Green Management Award, which confirms it as the most efficient factory in the European automotive industry, and a special mention to quality in the Factory of the Year awards for excellence in its manufacturing process. The factory tour will provide first-hand insights into the role of robots in production and logistics, as well as the innovations included by SEAT to face the challenges of Industry 4.0 and create one of the smartest, most digitised and coordinated factories in the sector. Highlights of these innovations include the use of smart glasses, exoskeletons and autonomous, collaborative robots.

Partner ecosystem at SEAT

Beyond production, SEAT has been working for some time in several fields to adapt to future challenges and the disruptive changes that are arising in the automotive sector. With the help of the Easy Mobility Team, the company's transversal team which was created to accelerate its digital transformation, SEAT is shaping its own partner ecosystem with the goal of providing drivers with EASY mobility experiences that are digital and connected.

Significant recently arranged partnerships include those with Google and Amazon, which will enable SEAT to integrate the Waze navigation system and the interactive voice activated assistant Alexa in its cars. In addition, SEAT has also signed agreements with businesses such as SABA, to create car and parking related services; and with entrepreneurs and startups like the participants in the SEAT Accelerator by Conector, who are developing several projects associated with the future of the automotive sector.

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