- Leading the project to cut down electric power consumption to half at all plants in Japan -
There were previously two factories at the Awazu Plant, but they were built over 40 years ago and equipped with many, outdated facilities. Their structure also posed some problems in productivity. As the productivity of assembling is fundamentally determined by parts logistics (preparation of parts), the pillar and floor structure can also become obstacle. The new assembly factory (shop floor area: 28,000m²) features a great degree of freedom (flexibility) capable of accommodating production lines 50 years ahead. The wide open space of the shop offers an outstanding degree of freedom when rearranging the floor layout in the future. It is secured by its innovative pit structure of the entire shop floor and application of an aircraft hangar structure which has provided a great distance between pillars. Power sources, pipes and auxiliary facilities along the assembly lines are all stored in the pit, which also promotes easy maintenance work and safety of the workers.
For the new assembly line for wheel-type construction equipment which began operation in May this year, our assembly experts thoroughly incorporated their improvement measures in the design stage, reducing the line length from 150m to 120m and doubling productivity per floor area. For the new line for crawler-type models, scheduled to start operations in July this year, the length has also been shortened, from 180m to 130m, enhancing per-space productivity.
We adopted the roof design similar to an aircraft hangar, achieving the maximum distance of 32m between pillars, about 4 times longer than the previous assembly factory. In this way, we have successfully eliminated the obstacle of the pillars in designing assembly lines.
An innovative pit for the entire shop floor of a plant which handles heavy equipment. Flat floor surface along the lines enables relatively easy rearrangement of the lines by removing floorboards and moving the facilities in the pit.
“ For our young manufacturing engineers who will lead Komatsu into the future, this new factory has offered a great opportunity to transform their ideas for improvement into actual things. ”
Interview: Tatsuya Nakaizumi, Project Manager, Awazu Plant
The new assembly factory uses leading-edge energy-saving facilities and equipment, such as variable LED lights and high-density and high-insulation materials, which should reduce our annual purchase of electric volume by over 90% from the combined volume of the previous two factories. By using the entire pit as an air-conditioning duct, we are achieving stratified air conditioning limited to workers, another energy-saving measure.
Overall Energy-savings and -generation at the Awazu Plant
In addition to the new assembly factory, we are working on energy-savings and -generation at the Awazu Plant by taking full advantage of local nature and our strengths.
Air Conditioning System with Groundwater
We have originally developed an air conditioning system which uses the rich groundwater of the Hakusan mountain range and steadily introduced it to buildings at the Awazu Plant since February 2012, including the new assembly factory. We expect that we should be able to cut down power consumption used for air conditioning of all buildings of the entire plant to half by using this system. In collaboration with Kanazawa University, we have also analyzed and ensured the amenity, energy savings and hygienic safety.
Air conditioning system with groundwater. By utilizing a high-efficiency radiator used in our construction equipment as the heat exchanger, we use groundwater at a constant temperature of 17 Celsius for cooling. In winter, we use heated water discharged from facilities and equipment in the plant.
Biomass Power Generation
As part of our assistance to the local forestry industry, we are going to start full-scale biomass power generation by the end of 2014 by using wood from trees thinned from the forest, which are usually discarded. This should result in a significant reduction in purchasing electricity. To ensure a stable supply of this thinned wood, we have entered a contract with the Kaga Forestry Association.
Biomass boiler currently in use. We have also developed an original cutting-type chipper for thinned wood. We are also planning to thoroughly collect waste heat from a biomass power generation system to be introduced soon.
Power Generation by Using KELK-made Thermoelectric Modules
To exhaustively use waste heat from heat treatment and other processes, we have been testing thermoelectric modules made by KELK Ltd., our subsidiary, for power generation for the last few years. We are planning to use KELK's new thermoelectric units at seven furnaces, partly as their durability test before the end of the current fiscal year. To store and reuse power generated at night by the thermoelectric units and biomass power generation system, we are also developing a large-scale power storage system with sealed batteries for Komatsu forklift trucks.
Thermoelectric generation system at the Awazu Plant. which takes advantage of temperature differences which occur inside of selective machinery. The heat treatment process is a very harsh environment for thermoelectric units because of drastic changes of temperature.
Large-scale power storage system with maintenance-free batteries for forklift trucks.