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Panasonic Fukushima Factory

Challenges in Tohoku Reconstruction

Creating a

In the reconstruction of the Tohoku region, the government considered Tohoku to be the most notable representation of issues faced by Japanese society as a whole. In fact, Tohoku experiences many issues that Japan is required to address, such as energy problems, an aging population, creation of disaster-resistant communities and a compact city, as well as making effective use of local resources. As such, the government specifies that what is crucial for Tohoku will be the creation of "New Tohoku" communities that solve these issues, rather than minimum necessary reconstruction of the livelihood of disaster victims. Accordingly, the government is working toward the creation of a "New Tohoku" by putting the leading initiatives implemented in the region together.

In 2013, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) launched a field testing project for advanced agricultural industrialization systems. The project subsidizes businesses that have verified the feasibility of an advanced agricultural production system using the latest technologies in an area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. The project also helps build a highly profitable processing/distribution system for the relevant products.

Fukushima Factory of Panasonic AVC Networks CompanyFukushima Factory of Panasonic AVC Networks Company

Initiatives

Plant factory that merges agricultural 
technology with production engineering

Panasonic applied for the 2013 field testing project for advanced agricultural industrialization systems organized by METI, and was selected as a recipient of subsidies. For some time, Panasonic has been working with a plant factory as part of the futuristic research promoted by its Monozukuri Division. The company is promoting the plant factory endeavor by making effective use of the Fukushima Factory's unused space.

Panasonic AVC Networks Company's Fukushima Factory is mainly engaged in module unit assembly for digital cameras and inspection of final products. The factory suffered a huge loss during the Great East Japan Earthquake. In particular, the No. 3 building, which housed production lines, was heavily damaged, so the damaged production equipment had to be relocated to the No. 2 building. Since then, the No. 3 building has not been used for production, although the building frame has been repaired.

This unused building was put to use for the plant factory, which draws on a wide range of technologies and products possessed by Panasonic. These include lighting, air conditioning, networks and energy conservation technologies. The plant factory fully leverages techniques and know-how for productivity improvement, quality stabilization and cost reduction developed and refined at the Fukushima Factory, as it pursues the optimal balance between machine automation and manual processes. Panasonic's subsidized project covers everything from cultivation of highly specialized plants to field testing for sales. Currently, the factory is engaged in the hydroculture of lettuce, which takes six weeks from sprouting to harvesting. Plans are to further reduce this production time, as well as constructing the second factory. The second factory will aim at producing highly specialized plants such as low-potassium lettuce for people with kidney disease. To this end, Panasonic plans to collaborate with hospitals and universities inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, while establishing a comprehensive field testing system covering sales of food materials as well.

Second-phase construction zoneSecond-phase construction zone

First-phase construction zone with a planned capacity of 330 heads of lettuce per day
Production of 3,000 heads per day is expected after third-phase construction
First-phase construction zone with a planned capacity of 330 heads of lettuce per day Production of 3,000 heads per day is expected after third-phase construction
Optimized air conditioning and lighting spur growth of vegetablesOptimized air conditioning and lighting spur growth of vegetables
Planting seedlings raised in urethane sponges on culture plates (labor-saving equipment to be employed for mass production)Planting seedlings raised in urethane sponges on culture plates (labor-saving equipment to be employed for mass production)
  • A plastic greenhouse is used as a clean room for packaging and shipment to cut costs
  • Optimally controlled nourishing solution feeding system
Click on the image to enlarge.

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