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Special Feature 03 : Promoting the evolution of ICT/IoT services to solve customer problems

Increasing need for ICT / IoT to meet various problems

Examples of customers’ issues

  1. 1. Scarcity and aging of skilled technicians
  2. 2. Reduced production efficiency due to equipment failures
  3. 3. Improvement of the work environment including measures to deal with extreme heat
  4. 4. Complicated documents and data
  5. 5. Insufficient communication between sales and production sites
  6. 6. Lack of IT system specialists

Recently, our business and industrial customers have been coping with a variety of issues such as the scarcity and aging of skilled technicians and reduced production efficiency due to equipment failures.

We strive to solve such problems by gaining an understanding of the current and emerging needs of our customers. Our many opportunity of contact with our customers have provided us with the possibility to create value in collaboration with related players. Thus, we provide our customers with diverse services and new technologies useful for solving their problems.

Realizing the potential of the heat transfer and structural analysis technologies cumulated through energy businesses

In the process of developing kitchen for home and commercial use, Osaka Gas has compiled a significant amount of analysis data regarding food and cooking. The Food Science Lab of the Energy Technology Laboratories conducts research to maximize the appeal of food by scientifically clarifying the key phenomena related to cooking and food preparation.

In order to determine the appropriate immersion period for rice used in sake brewing, Osaka Gas jointly with the Fushimi Sake Brewers Association developed a method for evaluating the absorption status of sake rice. We conducted this research as an application of our knowledge of food science and technology for developing gas cookers.

Contributing to the SDGs

Contributing to the SDGs

Solutions and initiatives

Plant IoT Service

Working with our customers to devise solutions

In addition to the simulation and sensor technologies and the system development and data analysis expertise we have cultivated through our gas business, the Daigas Group offers our customers IoT systems that address their various problems.

In FY2019, we collaborated with the Fushimi Sake Brewers Association to develop a new method of evaluating the absorption status of sake rice with our proprietary image recognition technology. While demand for the ginjo and daiginjo varieties of sake has increased in recent years, the number of head brewers and skilled brewers has been on the decline, leading to demand for more scientific support and technology transfer.

Going forward, we intend to continue applying IoT services and the results of our Group’s R&D and information and communication technology—such as our one-stop Plant IoT Service*—to help address the various issues our customers are currently facing.

Developer Interview : Applying a rice-cooking technology to sake rice. Haruo Tomita. Researcher Food Science Lab Energy Technology Laboratories Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.

In order to determine the amount of water absorbed by soaking rice, the Food Science Lab undertook an R&D effort to devise an image recognition technology for evaluating the visual change in rice caused by water absorption.

We were consulted by a sales representative to determine whether this technology could be used for value-added products of interest to corporate customers. Thus, in 2016 we collaborated with the Fushimi Sake Brewers Association to determine the amount of water absorbed by sake rice soaked in water. We verified the consistency with existing evaluation methods and correlations with data on brewing sites. After two years of joint study, we confirmed that this method is effective for evaluating water absorption status of sake rice and that it closely conforms with the vast expertise of the head brewers. We aim to introduce this method at various sake brewing locations.

The feature of this technology is that it can quantify and visualize the progress of the “soaking process” through which rice absorbs water when immersed. The soaking process is very important to sake brewing, and the time required for proper soaking varies with the type of rice, soil of the rice field, and the ambient temperature. The soaking time is thus controlled to the second as determined by the skill and experience of the head brewers.

Researcher Saki Nakayama measuring the  water absorption of rice

Researcher Saki Nakayama measuring the water absorption of rice

The sake rice for ginjo and daiginjo sake absorbs water quickly, and cracks appear when the water is absorbed because the kernels have been polished down to no more than 60% of the size of typical brown rice kernels. By developing a new technology that captures these changes in three dimensions and image recognition technology using AI, we were able to accurately capture changes in seconds. This became the point of technology breakthrough.

In addition to using this technology for rice evaluation, we are conducting R&D to address various other food evaluation technologies. We intend to offer them as part of the wide range of solutions we provide, and we hope to develop new services that will help our customers improve quality and control of manufacturing processes, and develop products.

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