FANUC CORPORATION(1), Fujitsu Limited(2), and NTT Communications Corporation(3) today announced together an agreement to jointly develop a new service to achieve their vision of a "Digital Utility Cloud." The "Digital Utility Cloud" concept aims for the acceleration of digital innovation by streamlining internal operations and improving customer service, which are often duplicated throughout the machine tool industry. To achieve this goal, the three companies will work to develop cloud services that can be adopted by any company and ultimately seek to establish the solution as a new de facto standard in the industry.
In recent years, the market environment has been rapidly changing due to the diversification of customer needs, with many companies increasingly turning to technologies including IoT and AI to enhance competitiveness through digital innovation. In the manufacturing industry, Japan faces considerable headwinds as the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continue to reverberate on a global scale. Each company in Japan's domestic machine tool industry has played their part in maintaining competitiveness and a stable business environment by leveraging their respective areas of expertise. Nevertheless, in the near future, the use of digital technology will become an increasingly vital element in accelerating efforts to boost companies' ability to compete on the global stage. Namely, it is becoming important to digitize services such as maintenance diagnosis and services for streamlining internal operations. Rather than having machine tool manufacturers approach digitization on an individual basis, this process should take place on an industry-wide scale with these services being made available as utilities for common use. Outline and Benefits of "Digital Utility Cloud" This service manages equipment data including machine tool operation status, personnel data like work logs collected by mobile devices, and static data such as manuals and specifications on a platform that enables safe and secure use. By using the AI engine to analyze the accumulated data for various purposes, the companies that use this service can take advantage of this data to reduce internal costs and resources required for development and improve customer service. This will effectively allow users to focus budgetary and developmental resources on areas requiring dedicated focus. Plans also exist to offer a store function for customers to purchase applications developed by machine tool manufacturers and IT vendors. As described above, the services that will help realize the "Digital Utility Cloud" offered by the three companies are expected to be widely used by companies in the machine tool industry and their customers as an ecosystem. Fig 2. Overview of Digital Utility Cloud.