To solve problems underlying design and manufacturing we often rely on methodologies of computational intelligence such as machine learning, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic, fuzzy inference systems and smart optimization algorithms. In this Special Issue of the International Journal of Automation Technology, original articles are presented with reference to the engagement of intelligent computation in diverse application areas of design and manufacturing, including manufacturing process monitoring, manufacturing systems management, scheduling, design theory and methodology.
The six research papers in this Special Issue propose the use of intelligent computation methodologies to deal with various topics related to manufacturing and design. In particular, the first three papers focus on manufacturing process monitoring with reference to different manufacturing technologies, including tool wear monitoring in drilling of composite materials, sensor monitoring in CNC turning and residual stress prediction in welding. Diverse intelligent approaches such as artificial neural networks and adaptive neuro-fuzzy inference systems are proposed to support manufacturing process monitoring. The fourth paper deals with the manufacturing system level, proposing the employment of a solution algorithm combining metaheuristics and operation simulation for scheduling of production processes. The fifth paper aims at developing tools to guide the manufacturers to manage the technology investment and cost saving target for customer satisfaction based on the application of internet of things. The last paper proposes a methodology to support the introduction of customer requirements in product and service design via a decision support system which exploits artificial intelligence algorithms (machine learning) based on inductive inference, allowing knowledge related to product/service to be mapped, structured and managed to design the service and product semantic model.
The editors deeply appreciate all the authors and anonymous reviewers for their effort and excellent work to make this Special Issue unique. We hope that future research on intelligent computation in manufacturing and design will advance manufacturing technology and systems as well as design methodologies.
This study introduces three cooking process improvements for a multiproduct traditional Japanese cuisine restaurant to improve labor productivity and to assess relations between offered process changes and service product characteristics. Restaurant productivity is the lowest among service industries because restaurants are labor-intensive. Therefore, the industry is affected by service product characteristics. Combining line and cell cooking systems, batch cooking using partial freezers, and combining built-to-order and built-to-plan cooking are introduced into actual multiproduct traditional Japanese cuisine restaurants to change cooking operations and improve labor productivity. Results show that all cooking process changes reduce work hours. The correlation coefficient between work hour and sales revenue improved by line and cell cooking, but it is degraded by batch cooking and built-to-order and built-to-plan cooking. Line and cell cooking enhance simultaneity and reduce the influence of perishability because the system adopts hourly work hours to fluctuation of hourly sales by changing cooking systems (line/cell). However, the system does not resolve heterogeneity and intangibility difficulties because the system is intended to resolve quantitative difficulties of cooking operation systems. Batch cooking systems reduce the influence of simultaneity and perishability of service products because the method reduces cooking frequency using partial freezers. Furthermore, the system improves heterogeneity because the restaurant can provide head-chef-made dishes even if the chef is not working at the restaurant. However, the system does not resolve difficulties of intangibility because the system is not designed to improve customers’ subjective evaluation for service. Built-to-order and built-to-plan cooking reduce the respective influences of simultaneity, perishability, and heterogeneity of service products to some degree because built to plan teams also practice batch cooking using partial freezers. However, the system does not resolve the difficulty of intangibility because the system is not intended to improve customers’ subjective evaluation for service.
The value of a service system should be evaluated using multiple indicators, such as company profitability, consumer satisfaction, or employee satisfaction to realize an ecosystem in society. This study examines the mechanisms of service systems with a multi-agent simulation model consisting of a company, employees, and consumers based on game theory. The proposed model is intended for a basic service business in which employees provide services to consumers directly based on their skill. In this model, first, a company player sets the price of a service and salary of employees. Then, employees decide whether to acquire resources, such as skills, with their efforts (costs) to satisfy either consumers’ needs or not. Then the employees acquire their profits (equivariant of satisfaction) not only from acquired salary but also from the reflection of consumer satisfaction. However, consumers have their needs structure, as gain tables, and decide whether and from whom to purchase. A consumer’s profit is calculated using his/her satisfaction with the service provided using a certain employee and the price paid for the service. Based on the model proposed above, we conducted a multi-agent simulation where company, employee consumer players make decision to maximize their own profits. From the basic simulation results, two convergent patterns are acquired according to the initial values of price and salary. In the second simulation, the heterogeneity of consumer needs is considered in the model based on questionnaire survey results on actual consumer behaviors related to hair salons (n=2472). With a factor analysis of 13 questionnaire items on lifestyles, four lifestyle factors are extracted. Based on the survey results, consumer players of four types are introduced into the simulation to analyze which services are selected in the service system. Through the simulation, four convergent patterns are acquired. In those patterns, consumers of different types are included according to the types of services. With those results, this paper presents a discussion of the design of a new service ecosystem through the comparison between acquired convergent solutions and existing business models.
In recent years, activities undertaken to reduce environmental impacts – such as recycling and reusing – have been increasing in popularity. For manufacturing companies, designing and using a closed-loop supply chain can help meet social responsibility objectives and enhance competitiveness. A closed-loop supply chain requires the accurate prediction of not only demand but also returned products; however, in the literature, the quantity of returned products is assumed to be dependent on demand. Importantly, the quantity of returned products is influenced by past demand and use periods. Further, some returned products may be treated as end-of-life products, because of quality deterioration. The purpose of this study is to design a closed-loop supply chain model in the context of returned product quantities as affected by past demand, use period, and extra demand, in order to analyze system performance. Herein, the quantity of demand influences the quantity of returned products, and hence the quantity of reusable products. Moreover, the dynamics of returned products, demand, and reusable products will also significantly influence production planning. In this study, fluctuations in the quantity of returned products influence not only production planning but also future demand fluctuations. The results of numerical examples derived from using the model proposed in this study clarify that the quantities of reusable products and manufactured products will fluctuate depending on the return rate, given policies that prioritize the sale of reusable products. This finding suggests that manufacturers need to consider reducing their environmental impact as well as establishing production planning and inventory control policies that contain fluctuations in the quantities of reusable and manufactured products.
This study aims to build a support method for consulting service companies allowing them to respond to client demands regardless of the expertise of the consultants. With an emphasis on the revitalization of small and medium-sized enterprises, the importance of support systems for consulting services for small and medium-sized enterprises, which support solving problems that are difficult to deal with by an enterprise, is increasing. Consulting companies can respond to a wide range of management consultations; however, because the contents of a consultation are widely and highly specialized, a service proposal and the problem detection depend on the experience and intuition of the consultant, and thus a stable service may occasionally not be provided. Therefore, a support system for providing stable services independent of the ability of consultants is desired. In this research, as the first step in constructing a support system, an analysis of customer information describing the content of a consultation with the client companies is conducted to predict the occurrence of future problems. Text data such as the consultant’s visitation history, consultation content by e-mail, and call center content are used in the analysis because the contents explain not only the current problems but also possibly contain future problems. This paper describes a method for analyzing the text data by employing text mining. In the proposed method, by combining a correspondence analysis with a DEA (Data Envelopment Analysis) discriminant analysis, words that are strongly related to problem detection are extracted from a large number of words obtained from text data, and variables of the DEA discriminant analysis are reduced and analyzed. The proposed method focuses on a cancellation of contract problems. The cancellation problem does not include uncertainty; it is clearly known whether the contract of the consulting service is being updated or cancelled. In this study, computer experiments were conducted to verify the effectiveness of the proposed method through a comparison with an existing method. The results of the verification experiment are as follows. First, there is a possibility of discovering new factors that cannot be determined from the intuition and experience of the consultant regarding the target problem. Second, through a comparison with the existing method, the effectiveness of the proposed method was confirmed.
Digital signage has been used for services such as advertisement and guidance in public spaces. The use of interactive digital signage has been increasing in recent years. To make full use of the interactivity of digital signage, it is necessary for people to start to interact. In this study, we made a hypothesis that fluffy objects have attraction affordance, and aimed to verify this hypothesis by developing a fluffy screen system. The proposed system is inflated with air. Then, multiple touch inputs from the outside of the screen are detected by cameras inside the screen, and clustering is performed. The information is presented by LCD projectors based on the results of clustering. A field trial in a shopping mall was conducted to verify the hypothesis. A very high interaction rate was realized during the trial of four hours. The results strongly support the hypothesis.
Digitalization is frequently seen as an important source of service innovation, enabling new solutions where products and services are bundled into offerings. As the realization of such offerings frequently requires the inclusion of new technological components and implies changes to activities across the value chain, they often require collaboration with other companies. This article explores what challenges arise when different organizations collaborate in service innovation enabled by digitalization. This study investigates a joint project between three companies aiming to innovate, build, and verify a proof-of-concept for an automated return process at a European rental company in the construction industry. An explorative case study approach was selected, and data were collected through semi-structured interviews with key managers in the collaborating companies as well as through meetings and workshops during the innovation project. The empirical observations revealed four main challenges: (1) the formulation of shared and complementary innovation objectives, (2) the joint design of a new business model addressing both value creation and value appropriation, (3) the management of the collaborative project across organizational boundaries, and (4) the fruitful combining of multiple agile organizing approaches.
Mass-production machining systems that are comprised of machine tools are often configured in series by dividing the machining processes in order to manage the large production volume. This indicates that if one of the machines stops owing to a mechanical malfunction, the entire production line needs to be stopped. Thus, machine tools in mass-production systems are required to be highly reliable and easy to maintain. Predictive maintenance, which enables operators to detect any signs of failure in the machine tool components, needs to be performed for the machines as well. In this work, various approaches for the improvement of the maintainability of machine tools used in a mass-production system are reported.
This paper aims at improving the learning efficiency of the skill learning service accompanied by physical movement. Furthermore, in this paper, the authors describe the outlines of a design theory for a skill learning service which can lead to the satisfaction of both learner and instructor. In our proposal, we use a relational database with MongoDB that is an unstructured database, making it possible to incorporate flexibly the demands of the learner and instructor into the database. This enables to deal adaptively with the various requirements of each user and input/output items; thus, it becomes easier to accumulate information on the progress of the learner. By visualizing the results of the analysis, it becomes easier to identify possible improvements to the existing skill-teaching services.
This study considered animated manuals among the assembly manuals used in the manufacturing industry, which is one of the important components for enhancing service productivity in the task teaching process. In particular, it focused on information that pertained to the worker’s hands. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of the inclusion of hand information for assembly workers and to elucidate on the effectiveness of the provision of hand information in assembly manuals. The subjective experimental results from four participants demonstrated that hand information was beneficial either when the presentation of such information was sufficiently easy for users to comprehend or when unstable parts have to be held by the hands.
Back pain has been a serious problem for novice nurses who care for bedridden patients. To avoid back pain, placing a slippery sliding sheet beneath a patient has been suggested so that nurses can pull it when repositioning the patient rather than lifting the patient. However, inappropriate use of the sheet may not reduce lumbar pain. Therefore, it is important to identify skills required for novice nurses to perform bed care movements using a sliding sheet. This study firstly performed interview to obtain useful knowledge from expert nurses who are skilled in using a sliding sheet. Next, a simulation study was then conducted to determine specific bed care movements that would minimize lumbar joint moment associated with lumbar pain. The simulated and expert movements were compared to validate whether expert movements decreases lumbar joint moment. Finally, a novice participant was taught these expert movements, and the educational effect of using these skills was validated. Our results showed that the experts used characteristic movements, keeping the upper arm and trunk stabilized and utilizing a shift in body weight, when performing bed care movements with the sliding sheet. Additionally, the expert movements and simulated movements were shown to be similar. This result confirmed that expert movements could contribute to reducing lumbar joint moments. Moreover, a novice participant could decrease lumbar moment using skills derived from effective education.
In this study, we compare and verify data that have been rendered visual by Kinect sensoring with data obtained by conventional devices. This is in order to promote the co-creation of experiential values in the acquisition of a sternal compression technique in basic life support in the context of the improvement of the clinical skills of physicians and healthcare professionals. We find that Kinect sensoring is sufficiently accurate to evaluate measurements of the rate and depth of sternal compression; it is comparable to accelerometers and sternal compression-dedicated sensoring devices. This provides a platform for the co-creation of experiential values for the improvement of clinical skills based on the acquisition of medical techniques using the Kinect sensor, which is low in cost and easy to use. It also provides a platform for the exchange of sensor-captured information between the instructor and trainee. It is hoped that this will lead to the co-creation of values useful for the development of educational services in life-saving medical techniques.
It is vital for cultural properties to be passed down between generations. Therefore, this study focuses on conservation techniques and discusses a system that provides appropriate automation to prevent the destruction of the value of cultural properties and conservation techniques. Manufacturing companies have improved productivity by rapidly replacing humans with machines. Because of this, the techniques of skilled persons who have gained experience with products over time by maintaining and repairing them are not being inherited by their successors. This has resulted in many manufacturers ceasing production or going out of business. Cultural properties are strongly associated with tradition and tacit knowledge. This makes it more difficult to maintain and reproduce them than common products. Thus, rather than a simple replacement of people and machines, support through applying automation that enhances human abilities is required. This study investigates Japan and a developed country, Denmark, in terms of conservation. On the basis of mutual understanding gained by investigating the state of mutual conservation in the two countries, we summarize the problems and efforts related to tacit knowledge sharing. We used a qualitative research method called ethnographical inquiry to find tacit knowledge underlying the techniques and influences of culture in Japan and Denmark. This study features empirical findings on the appropriate use of both automation that replaces humans with machines and automation that enhances human abilities.
In flexible structures such as a stacker crane, vibration is generated by the high acceleration of the traveling axis in the load transportation slider. Vibration suppression is necessary for productivity improvement. We utilized the acceleration feedback control for vibration suppression. The flexible structure has several natural vibration modes of varying phase, and vibration suppression is difficult by the simple feedback control. The second mode is excited by the simple feedback control for the vibration suppression of the first mode when the phase between the first mode and the second mode are different, e.g., a flexible structure. This paper proposes a filter design by adjusting the common phase for the feedback control. The filter using the operational amplifier reverses the phase of the second mode and such that it is the same as the first mode. The effect of vibration suppression is verified by the experiment.
Low-cost mirror surface machining of die steel is proposed in this research by applying elliptical vibration cutting with diamond-coated tools sharpened by pulse laser grinding (PLG). It is well known that conventional diamond cutting cannot be applied to die steel owing to rapid tool wear. Several attempts have been reported to prevent rapid tool wear, such as using ultrasonic elliptical vibration cutting. The ultrasonic elliptical vibration cutting developed by the authors to achieve mirror surface finish on die steel and prevent rapid wear is widely used in the industry. However, high-cost single-crystalline diamond tools that are finished using a time-consuming lapping process are required to obtain mirror surfaces. The authors, meanwhile, have recently developed the PLG process to efficiently sharpen the cutting edges of hard tool materials such as cubic boron nitride. Therefore, a practical mirror surface machining method for die steel is proposed in this research, namely elliptical vibration cutting with low-cost diamond-coated tools sharpened by the efficient PLG process. The results of the machining experiments confirmed that practical mirror surface machining of die steel can be achieved by the proposed method.
Profile evaluation by detecting tangential angles of the profile is competent for large objects because it inherently requires no reference, which is difficult to define with sufficient accuracy as the object becomes larger. We considered using a gyro for detecting the angles instead of an inclinometer or an autocollimator, which are conventionally used as angle detectors. A gyro can detect angles without angular reference; therefore, profiles can be evaluated without the limitation of a reference. However, angles detected by a gyro generally have considerable fluctuations to ensure accuracy in the μrad range, which is the same level as a highly precise inclinometer. In this work, we adopted a periodic reversal measurement using a rotating mechanism to eliminate fluctuations. Analysis and experimental results show that the angles of the gyro’s rotating axis against the earth’s rotating axis can be derived from the angular signals of two gyros rotating in counter directions, and that this method is effective for reducing the influences of fluctuations.
The tensile thermal stress generated by laser irradiation with forced cooling is critical in the cleavage processing of thin plate glass. In this study, we predicted the conditions for generating tensile thermal stress in laser-induced cleavage of thin plate glass using numerical models from the viewpoint of the cooling and heating areas. An unsteady two-dimensional model was used to predict the temperature distribution and an unsteady plane stress model was used to predict the thermal stress. To generate tensile thermal stress, a cooling area is required behind the heating area. A specific scanning speed is required to yield the maximum tensile stress between the heating and cooling areas. A weak heat transfer coefficient in the cooling area generates tensile thermal stress only in the direction perpendicular to (y direction) the scanning direction of the heat source (x direction). A strong heat transfer coefficient generates tensile thermal stress in both the x and y directions. These tensile thermal stresses are surrounded by horseshoe-shaped compressive thermal stress. The tensile thermal stress can be controlled by selecting an appropriate cooling method for the cooling area.
Experimental investigations were carried out to verify if the friction reduction in lubrication can be expanded by a textured surface with sawtooth riblets. Sawtooth riblets were formed by ultraprecision diamond cutting, with a ridge angle of about 60°–90° and height of about 20–50 μm on the contact surface. Six types of textured surfaces with different ridge angles, heights, and sliding directions were tested and compared with the untextured surface. The tribological tests were conducted by a flat-on-flat tribometer in lubrication. The effects of the ridge angle, height, and relative sliding direction on the friction coefficient in lubrication were reported.