Genchi Genbutsu is the Japanese principle of going to and directly observing a location and its conditions in order to understand and solve any problems faster and more effectively. The phrase literally translated means “go and see for yourself” and is a part of the Toyota Way philosophy.
The phrase and concept of Genchi Genbutsu was coined by Toyota’s Taiichi Ohno and is an important principle of the Toyota Production System. Genchi Genbutsu is one of the building blocks of continuous improvement which means go and see for yourself. The Japanese term Genchi means actual place, while Genbutsu means actual thing. It is one of the thirteen pillars of the Toyota Production System and was established to empower people to solve the problem by seeing the issue for themselves. Genchi Genbutsu is a fundamental principle that Toyota uses in design and manufacturing to find causal factors to problems or to unexpected boons, like increased worker production.
The objective of the Genchi Genbutsu principle is to emphasise the importance of being on the manufacturing site where production is happening to fully understand the processes, examine the working environment, and determine waste generation. It is a good practice because when problems arise, management can advise the best possible solution immediately.
The impressive and iconic entrance to the Big Sight exhibition grounds in Tokyo, Japan where JIMTOF always takes place these days. The whole facility was used as a media centre during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021
Genchi Genbutsu is commonly associated with Gemba Walk as they have the same concept to promote continuous improvement. Like Genchi Genbusu, Gemba is also a Japanese term that means ‘the real place’ which is defined as the act of seeing where the actual work happens.
Even though Gemba and Genchi Genbutsu have similar concepts, they differ in their process and implementation. Gemba walk aims to observe certain areas of a facility to look for improvement opportunities and there are no specific issues that the organisation was trying to solve. It emphasises continuous improvement by watching required actions to complete daily tasks and identify circumstances to implement safety in the workplace.
The use of robots in conjunction with man that was very noticeable at JIMTOF 2022. We say that automation is the enemy of workers in factories. Not in Japan, where robots are welcomed by the Government as an elegant way to handle the country’s aging populace, shrinking workforce and public aversion of immigration
On the other hand, Genchi Genbutsu is performed when there is an occurrence of an issue that the organisation is trying to solve. The exact area on the production floor where the issue happened is where the investigation begins to solve the problem. It helps identify the root cause of the problem by asking relevant questions to operators and walking around the area to investigate.
This is what JIMTOF is all about. You have to go and see the exhibition for yourself to learn how you can solve challenges and come up with a solution for your metalworking manufacturing environment.
The 31st Japan Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF2022), the largest machine tool trade show in Japan, was held at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo over six days from 8 to 13 November 2022. It was the first time in four years that JIMTOF was held as an in-person exhibition, and a total of 1 086 companies, a record number in the exhibition’s history, exhibited at the fair. The number of registered visitors was 114 158 – this despite the remaining concerns about the resurgence of Covid. This was the live exhibition that both exhibitors and visitors have been waiting for.
A combination of a Fanuc CNC control operating simultaneously with a PC: An interesting controller on the SNK stand pointed out by Marc Mahl of Fanuc South Africa. He had not seen one before
The newly added Additive Manufacturing (AM) Area in the South Exhibition Hall was filled with 59 companies and organisations exhibiting. Since the AM technologies differ widely in terms of forming methods and available materials, each company has its speciality. At the booths of the companies that have built up their AM expertise, there were many exhibits that highlighted the applications and uses in which each company is strong.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Smart Factory
Manufacturing has been moving towards the ‘Industrial Internet’ to build digital smart factories that can connect, communicate, and use smart data in real time to optimise operations. New automation choices are fuelling growth in the connected industrial Internet digital manufacturing revolution. The pace of technological change is rapidly accelerating, as automation suppliers and controls developers race to bring to fruition the connected factory of the future.
The Hexagon stand showed the versatility of collaborative robots. They had two robots on their stand – one measuring and the other verifying the same component
As the automation industry becomes more globally focused and competitive, users need to keep their business models relevant and move from mass production to mass customisation.
Digitalisation, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0
The theme for JIMTOF 2018 – ‘Connected by technology for the future’ – with digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and Industry 4.0 as the leading buzz words continued to be prominent at 2022 exhibition. The advancements in this area are mind boggling in some cases.
Collaborative robots and energy monitoring
I shared my impressions with the JIMTOF Daily newspaper and was quoted: “The evolution of collaborative robots is wonderful. I also saw energy monitoring technology and energy-saving machines. There is a lot of information that will be helpful for the manufacturing industry in South Africa, which is experiencing a serious energy situation.”
I could not be closer to the truth. As soon as I returned to South Africa there were more labour strikes, stayaways and transport disruption so employees could not get to work. And then our 15-year energy crisis got even worse.
The evolution of collaborative robots
However, it is the use of robots in conjunction with man that was very noticeable. We say that automation is the enemy of workers in factories. Not in Japan, where robots are welcomed by the Government as an elegant way to handle the country’s aging populace, shrinking workforce and public aversion of immigration.
Japan is already a robotics powerhouse. It wants to automate and realise cost and productivity gains.
SNK, had their RB-4M double column big bridge machining center on show that included Fanuc’s large industrial robot M-2000iA/1700L that was utilised to automate the setup process for loading and unloading of large, heavy components, attracting visitors with its powerful combination of machine and robot
As collaborative robots emerge that respond to workers’ touch, designers have found a way to combine machine computing power with human creative abilities.
Whether in factories, workshops or even in our homes, these intelligent devices are endowed with flexible senses and gestures that create a new merging form of human-machine interaction. They assist workers in difficult tasks and improve their safety and productivity.
Interest in robots in the machine tool and metalworking industries has been increasing, and at JIMTOF 2022, many companies, from major companies to small and medium-sized manufacturers, made proposals for automation systems incorporating robots.
The use of collaborative robots was very evident at JIMTOF 2022. If a machine tool manufacturing exhibitor did not have a cobot ‘working’ on the stand you wondered why they had not yet embraced the future. In many cases there were more than one cobot operating, whether it be in a machine tending operation or handling and moving components from position A to position B.
Citizen Machinery exhibited its Miyano AN42SYY, a fixed headstock type CNC automatic lathe, equipped with an optional gantry loader for the first time in the company’s history. They also launched the Cincom L20XIIB5 sliding headstock type automatic CNC lathe. Both machines are FA (factory automation) friendly
Imagine a world without safety fences, a world in which humans work side-by-side with robots. In this world, robots would execute all strenuous tasks, enabling humans to dedicate their precious time to lighter, more skilled or demanding tasks.
With collaborative robots, that world has already come into existence. By integrating them into existing production environments, robots directly collaborate with humans, becoming a crucial part of the team. Alongside humans, they take over tedious, repetitive tasks, lifting up to 35kg, thus maintaining the human’s health while automating entire assembly lines.
To emphasise the point of Japanese factory automation, CNC Systems and industrial robots company Fanuc, a manufacturer of all sizes of robots used in a multitude of applications and situations, had a display of 12 different sizes of their collaborative robots that they manufacture, both the CR and CRX series.
Mitsubishi Electric, a Japanese electric discharge machining (EDM) machine builder as well as a robot manufacturer, also proposed the automation of EDM machines by loading an industrial robot on an AMR. In this system, the robot automatically changes workpieces to be processed, and a single robot can be responsible for several machines while moving around autonomously. The key to the system is a newly developed software integrated scheduler. It enables the system to grasp the operating status of each machine and the timing of when processing is completed, thus realising total optimisation.
The SNK RB-4M double column big bridge machining center that had the unusual combination of a Fanuc CNC control operating simultaneously with a PC
High positioning accuracy is required when loading workpieces onto machine tools, but the accuracy of AMR’s stop position is not as high as it should be. To solve this problem, this system uses a vision sensor on the robot side to read the marks on the machine side and determine the position relative to the machine. The system corrects the robot’s actions according to the positional relationship between the marks and the machine.
Compared to cutting, EDM machines require longer machining times and have not yet been widely automated, but there will be needs for this type of advanced automation in the future the company believes.
Energy monitoring technology and energy-saving machines
The push towards sustainability, in other words, was also very evident. Machine monitoring and maintenance checks has been part of the machine tool industry for many years and was not just as a result of Industry 4.0.
At the heart of most machine tools the machine tool coolant pumps and high-pressure pumps used in machining processes in industry require precise pump speed and control. For machine tool systems, different workflows call for different coolant pressures and flows. Intelligent machine tool pumps will adjust themselves accordingly, running at exactly the duty point needed. There are now coolant pumps and monitoring systems for machine tools that offer energy savings using fewer pumps and with less heat, supporting the trend towards higher pressure coolant pumps.
There is also software that has been developed that will reverse the spindle on a machine tool if it detects a drop or spike in energy. How we need this in South Africa.
Why so many machining centers on display?
At the international press conference, I asked the question of why there were so few lathes or turning machines on display? Mr Tsuneyuki Ishii – Chairman of International Committee, JMTBA and President of Okamoto Machine Tool Works answered it simply: “Machining companies do not want to move a component from one machine to another machine to perform the different operations. They want the different operations all done on one machine. They want machines designed with the multi-tasking mindset.”
You can certainly credit Mazak with the ‘Done In One’ concept. The model of material starting off just as a bar or block when it starts machining, but when it finishes, you have a completed workpiece without tool change or even without an operator has been here for some time. It is the sophistication of 5-axis machining that is now the focus of machining companies.
As usual there was plenty of new equipment to see. Yamazaki Mazak, who had the largest booth at this year’s show, unveiled its FSW-460V, a processing machine for friction stir welding (FSW), in which materials softened by friction heat are stirred together to form a joint. Additionally the company launched a hybrid multi-tasking Integrex i-250H.
Okuma focused on proposing solutions for decarbonisation. The company defined its intelligent machine tools that combine high-precision machining with environmental friendliness as “Green-Smart Machine,” and all the exhibited machines, apart from the cylindrical grinder, were labelled with a special emblem to promote the company’s products. A world first on the stand was the 5-axis VMC Genos M560V.
DMG MORI presented its NTX500, a lathe-based multitasking machine launched in June of this year, for the first time in Japan at the company’s Tokyo Global Headquarters. Matsuura Machinery exhibited four new 5-axis machining centers, including two new models, as well as new NC equipment.
Yasda Precision Tools also exhibited four 5-axis machining centers, including its newly developed horizontal 5-axis YBM Vi50. JTEKT unveiled five new products, which included a cylindrical grinding machine G3 Series TypeL under the theme of ONE!JTEKT.
Toyo Advanced Technologies demonstrated a production line that uses a robot to connect TVG-20C-2S a vertical compound grinder for machining ID and end faces, and TGG-26-2W a gear grinder for machining tooth surfaces.
Makino‘s new high accuracy wire EDM UPX600 caught the attention of many visitors with its design that uses many curves. According to the company the most remarkable feature of UPX600 is that it can achieve the same surface accuracy with water processing fluid as with oil processing fluid.
Amada has released new NC equipment to meet social and environmental issues. The newly introduced bending machines, EGB-1303ATCe and EGB-6013ARce, use the new NC system and they have also changed the drive system from a hydraulic hybrid to an electric servo motor.
Citizen Machinery exhibited its Miyano AN42SYY, a fixed headstock type CNC automatic lathe, equipped with an optional gantry loader for the first time in the company’s history. They also launched the Cincom L20XIIB5 sliding headstock type automatic CNC lathe. Both machines are FA (factory automation) friendly.
Nidec Machinetool and Nidec OKK, both under the group umbrella of Nidec, promoted the group companies’ comprehensive capabilities.
Kitamura Machinery introduced its new 5-axis VMC MedCenter, ideal for small complex parts and micro machining such as in the medical industry.
Enshu launched two new machines including the SV130 VMC with automatic loading and the SH350 HMC.
Matsuura Machinery launched two world first 5-axis vertical machining machines, the MX-330 PC10 and the MAM72-42VPC32.
Nakamura-Tome launched the SC-200 CNC lathe and Okomoto Machine Tool Works launched three new machines – a surface grinder PSG127CA-iQ, a grinding center UGM64GC and a vertical rotary grinder VRG6DX.
Takisawa launched three world firsts for the company. A TMX-4000 multitasking turning center, a TR-20W robot system and a parallel twin-spindle CNC lathe TT-2600.
Toyo Siki, Tsugami, Takeda, Takamaz, Star Micronics, SNK, Shimada, Shibaura, Seibu Electric, Sawaiti Engineering, Roku-Roku Sangyo, Nimura, Nomurads DS, Nachi, Muratec, Miroku, Mitsui High-Tec, Marposs, Kuraki, Karats Precision, Kashifuji, Heian Corporation, Horkos Group, Hakusankiko, Hamai, Fuji Electronics, Elenix, Eguro and Brother Industries, all JMTBA members, all had world first launches.
Nidec had one collaborative robot loading/offloading components from two different machines
Fanuc demonstrated that collaborative robots don’t necessarily just work with the latest equipment by exhibiting a CRX 20iA cobot loading/offloading components with a 17-year-old Fanuc Robodrill
As usual there was plenty of new equipment to see. Mazak, who had the largest booth at this year’s show, unveiled its FSW-460V, a processing machine for friction stir welding (FSW), in which materials softened by friction heat are stirred together to form a joint
Additionally Mazak launched a hybrid multi-tasking Integrex i-250H
South Africans at JIMTOF 2022
Marc Mahl – Fanuc South Africa
“With Japan reopening their borders late in 2022, it was a privilege to be able to visit the JIMTOF show again. This is the first time since 2018 that it was held due to the Covid pandemic. It is evident to see the huge developments that have been made in the last four years. Numerous technologies have seen impressive advancements including fine surface technology, digital twin and robotic automation.”
Koshpasharin Titat of SNK with Marc Mahl of Fanuc South Africa
“Many Japanese machine tool builders have embraced these technologies and showcased more complex type machines with large displays and numerous high-speed functions for complex part machining. Some of the sample parts on display were truly remarkable.”
The shift towards digitisation is also clear. Digital twin was one of the buzz words of this JIMTOF exhibition. Fanuc displayed a digital twin software application that allows the operator to run their program in the digital world in order to confirm the movements of the machine, check for interference between the machine tool, jig, fixtures, etc digitally. Then by importing actual servo motor feedback from the machine tool, it provides a machining surface finish estimation. These technologies are especially useful to 5-axis machines, or complex machine setups which may require many hours of testing the machine before production. These technologies allow setup time to be greatly reduced and the programme can be tweaked and the surface finish optimised before a single part is cut.
“Robots were everywhere at this JIMTOF exhibition. Some were conventional stationary installations, like the massive 1 700kg payload Fanuc robot on the SNK stand, others were moving around on AGVs and the number of collaborative robots was staggering. Even handing catalogues to visitors was done by collaborative robot. Robots were being used for so many applications from machine tending, to component washing, assembly and measurement. It is clear to see that the world is moving quickly towards total automation solutions.”
Sustainability was a big focus of his exhibition. Most exhibitors had a display focusing on their sustainability efforts. Fanuc has been focusing on this field for many years already and many of these technologies have been part of our products for many generations already. Now the focus on carbon neutrality, reduced power consumption and green energy has become more important than ever before. These technologies are especially important to South African customers, where power consumption is more important than ever before due to the current energy crisis.”
“The show was well attended. Each day I was there I witnessed thousands of people flowing through the exhibition. It is encouraging to see so many people interested in future manufacturing technologies and machine tools. I look forward to seeing these technologies in South Africa soon.”
Joe Angus of CJC Machinery Technologies with Marc Mahl of Fanuc South Africa
Joe Angus – CJC Machinery Technologies
“Firstly, having had the privilege of being able to travel to Japan since the late 1970’s when my parents lived in Japan, I have always found this country and the people of Japan very fascinating. The discipline of the Japanese people is truly amazing. In my opinion, there are not many countries that can match this discipline and orderliness. One only needs to walk around in their beautiful, clean streets, to see this law and order in operation.”
“Anyhow, I was able to visit the JIMTOF 2022 machine tool show again after the Covid lockdown period and it was great to see the new developments in technology displayed at many of the machine tool manufacturers’ stands. What was evident on most of these machine tool stands was the focus on total automation.”
“Many of these manufacturers had their machinery running on full automation and the concentration appeared to be on robotic automation. This was no doubt to eliminate the need for manual loading and unloading of a workpiece, thereby speeding up the production of components and ultimately bringing down the costs per component and improving reliability.”
“Even on some of the larger CNC machines the focus was also on robotic automation. One particular company, SNK, had their RB-4M double column, 5 faces, big bridge machining center on show that included Fanuc’s large industrial robot M-2000iA/1700L that was utilised to automate the setup process for loading and unloading of large, heavy components, attracting visitors with its powerful combination of machine and robot.”
“I spent some time at the Fanuc stand and here again the focus was on total automation, with the emphasis focused on two main issues. They were the ultra, high-speed, look ahead function for mould and die 3D and 5-axis machining, as well as robotic automation.”
“The new high-speed look ahead functions available from Fanuc was of important interest to me because with many of the automotive manufacturers in South Africa the machining process and the repairing of the complex press tool dies is a big issue because of the time that is required to re-machine or repair these complex dies. I believe this new Fanuc function will go a long way to reducing machining time.”
“Fanuc, along with many of the machine tool manufacturers, have now addressed this issue of the time it takes for the machining process of these complex press tool dies and other complex 5-axis machining and the solution is the look ahead function. Accurate, high-speed machining is not possible without this new software.”
“In closing, for my company, whose main business over the past many years has been supplying machinery mainly to the mould and die industry, this new high-speed, look ahead function is very interesting.”
“With the energy crisis that is currently concerning the world, we all know that the less time spent on machining components the more cost-effective customers will become and thereby reduce their energy usage. This point was also addressed by Fanuc and by many of the machine manufacturers that were on display at JIMTOF.”
“I’m looking forward to the Timtos 2023 machine tool show that will be held in March in Taiwan to see how much of this automation and high-speed machining has been carried over to the Taiwanese machine tool manufacturers.”
In his address to the international press the President of the JMTBA Dr. Yoshiharu Inaba encouraged us as press people to promote the Japanese culture and discipline. I am happy to do that because I love the country and its people.
Chairman of the JMTBA Dr Yoshiharu Inaba. Dr Inaba is also Chairman and CEO of Fanuc Corporation
The discipline is shown in many ways but a better word for it is respect. When I arrived the country had only lifted Covid restrictions a month before. The Government was still cautious about the pandemic spreading again but also had to let go and give the freedom to people. It was therefore not a rule to wear a mask anymore but rather a request. Every single Japanese person I saw was wearing a mask.
Out of all the places I’ve been to, Japan has never ceased to amaze me. And it is not limited to the great food they have, but also the lifestyle of the people. The strong determination is in the air, ready to fight and overcome any hurdles in the way with a bright smile that would make anyone’s day. The amount of optimism and positivity I get from Japan is unmatchable.
One truly witnesses the power of humility and wisdom in Japan. Mutual respect is another highlight of the Japanese culture
Politeness is a trait that makes me respect Japan hugely. In every store I entered, I was always greeted politely. Even if I didn’t buy anything, I was still thanked for my visit. People recognise if you need help or look lost and go out of their way to help you. Apology is another trait that adds up to the politeness quotient. People in Japan would apologise for even the smallest of inconvenience, even if it wasn’t bothering me much. When using public transport, people avoid talking on the phone as it would disturb the co-passengers. Even after numerous visits to Japan, I have never seen a single person shouting on the phone, or even talking loudly.
One truly witnesses the power of humility and wisdom in Japan. Mutual respect is another highlight of the Japanese culture. Respecting elderly people, teachers, parents and even strangers is a way of life in Japan. The amount of courtesy Japanese people offer is unmatched. Another way of showing respect is by respecting the other person’s time. That’s when punctuality comes in. People in Japan are extremely punctual to the second. The high-speed bullet train, The Shinkansen, rides hundreds of kilometres with a time difference of less than two seconds from the estimated time of arrival/departure.
Punctuality comes from organisation. From public lives to private, everything in Japan is well organised. In order to prevent chaos, people refrain from breaking the order. Even if you are standing in a long queue, people wait patiently and don’t push. The calm within Japanese people is something that fuels the inner peace, integrity and determination of the people.
The culture of Japan deeply values credibility. And it is not something you would gain in Japan by talking about it. In fact, people who talk less are considered to be more credible and wise.
Jacob Harpaz President and Chairman of the IMC Group with Ilan Geri Chief Executive Officer of Iscar
Christian Berger, Marc Blaser and Patricio Villard, all of Blaser Swisslube with United Grinding Group’s CEO Stephan Nell (second left) at the Japanese Swiss Members function
The newly added Additive Manufacturing (AM) Area in the South Exhibition Hall was filled with 59 companies and organisations exhibiting. Since the AM technologies differ widely in terms of forming methods and available materials, each company has its speciality
umati’s strong network of partners. umati is a universal machine technology interface
Mr Kazuo Yuhara, President of the JMTBA with the Chairman of the JMTBA Dr Yoshiharu Inaba
Mr Tsuneyuki Ishii – Chairman of International Committee, JMTBA and President of Okamoto Machine Tool Works, Katsutoshi Matsuura, Chairman of the JMTBA Trade Fair Committee and Chairman of Matsuura Machinery Corporation and Mr Yasuo Tsukuni, Executive Vice-President and CEO of Tokyo Big Sight Inc
Johan Neveling and Ray Cooper, both of WD Hearn Machine Tools, Dr Akihiro Kitamura of Kitamura Machinery, Graeme Cooper of WD Hearn Machine Tools and Kosaku Kitamura of Kitamura Machinery