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Interactive Enterprise

August 2012
Japan

Shiga Plant of Toray Industries, Inc.

Overview

With operations in 23 countries and regions worldwide, Toray Industries, Inc. is a diversified chemical products company that has expanded into various areas including fibers and textiles, plastics and chemicals, carbon fiber composite materials, IT-related products, as well as pharmaceutical and medical products.

Multiple Toray sites including its largest facility in Japan, the Shiga Plant, recently installed Panasonic's interactive plasma displays as part of a web conferencing system.

Product to be delivered TH-65PB1 x 1

Creating an environment for efficient video-conference meetings: Toray uses interactive plasma displays for ever wider purposes in order to promote business innovation

Issues

  • PC screens were too small for groups to participate in web conferencing.
  • It was not possible to write on conference materials or digitize notes jotted on a whiteboard.

Solutions

  • By holding web conferences using a 65-inch interactive plasma display, whole groups can now participate, and the environment approximates a face-to-face meeting, with each location being able to make notes on the same materials being displayed. This has greatly reduced business trips and increased operating efficiency.
  • Information jotted on materials and whiteboard notes can be saved electronically. All the related materials can then be saved together as a paperless record of the meeting.

Customer's Challenges

Toray implemented a web conferencing system using PCs and the Internet, in order to promote even more efficient operations and reduce frequent business trips to overseas sites and suppliers. However, there were some system execution problems such as the difficulty of holding group meetings using a PC-sized screen and encouraging debate without being able to share points on a whiteboard. The company was not able to make full use of the conferencing system as a result. In addition, along with a company-wide transition to paperless administration, it became necessary to digitize meeting records. Since they could not make handwritten notes on electronic materials or digitize information jotted on a whiteboard during meetings, they began to look for a solution.

Results

Achieving the initial investment objective of better operational efficiency

Through the installation of interactive plasma displays, Toray was able to create a dynamic environment for holding conferences with people in remote locations, similar to face-to-face meetings. As a result, once frequent business trips have been mostly eliminated. This has also resulted in huge savings of time and money.
It is now possible to electronically save information written by hand on conference materials along with whiteboard notes, as a record of each meeting.

Technology use has expanded beyond initial expectations

The interactive plasma displays are now being used in ways not originally anticipated. These new uses include showing screens from multiple PCs on one display, and recording note-writing sessions as video. Consequently, there have been inquiries from other Toray departments, and the company expects to use interactive plasma displays to further promote internal adoption of information and communication technology.

Group web conferencing through the use of a large-screen interactive plasma display: While sharing notes written on the screen with remote locations, participants can engage in enthusiastic discussions where body language is also conveyed.

Decisive Factors for Interactive Plasma Display Installation

Therefore, Toray looked at Panasonic's interactive plasma displays, and after investigating the following advantages, decided to install the technology.

65-inch large screen display can be comfortably viewed by an entire group

The interactive plasma display is the optimal size for a conference or meeting of 6 to 8 people. By using the display as a PC monitor, web conferencing can be performed on a large screen.

Ability to write on the screen

Using an electronic pen, users can write on meeting materials shown on the interactive plasma display, with greater ease and flexibility than when using a mouse. During web conferencing, the screen materials marked by hand are immediately visible to all participants. Since people in different locations can write on the same material in real time, smooth communication is possible.

Whiteboard mode

The interactive plasma display can be used as a whiteboard, making it easy to record meeting minutes and write memos by hand. As the display's electronic pen makes fewer detection errors than other technologies, the display can accurately record even small writing and scribbled notes.

Electronic recording and saving of jotted information

In addition to facilitating the saving of materials with handwritten notes as digital files, the interactive plasma display can also save the note writing process as video.

Actual Use Cases

For web conferencing

An interactive plasma display, PC, web camera, microphone, and speakers are set up in advance for web conferences. It provides a worry-free meeting environment enabling participants to deepen discussion and share information jotted on the screen.

Whiteboard digitization

At ordinary meetings without web conferencing, the interactive plasma display is used as a digital whiteboard, which has the following advantages:
- Use of the "undo" function
- Handwriting and shapes can be automatically recognized and computerized
- Handwritten notes can be enlarged or reduced
- Handwriting can be converted to a document object and added to other electronic documents

Use with other peripheral devices

• A PC is connected to the interactive plasma display using a wireless module, creating a large-screen monitor with free layout.
• Electronic whiteboards (Panaboards) already owned are used in conjunction with the interactive plasma display. When the Panaboard is connected to a PC, the board content can be saved as an image file. This is kept together with a file of the digitized details jotted onto the interactive plasma display, as a record of the meeting.

The 65-inch interactive plasma display is large enough to be viewed comfortably by everyone at a meeting. Despite its size, a user can still move his or her hand easily from the top to the bottom of the display, avoiding any unnecessary dead space on the screen.

Since the plasma display has no viewing angle dependence, the screen contents including handwriting can be seen clearly even from an angle.

Lines and figures drawn freehand are automatically converted to approximate geometric shapes.

An electronic whiteboard(Panaboard) already in use (indicated by the arrow), was effectively adopted to complement the interactive plasma display. Since the electronic whiteboard can save its contents as an image file, this information may kept together with the digitized details from the interactive plasma display, as a record of each meeting.

Strong interest from other departments for expanded uses

• In Toray's production management division, it is necessary to display and compare a variety of information at the same time. Consequently, the division is very interested in a feature of the interactive plasma display that enables up to 16 PC screens to be displayed simultaneously.

• There have also been inquiries concerning the display's ability to record and save as video with the process of writing on or manipulating a computer screen. Using this feature, any training participant that is not able to attend a class, will be able to watch the session individually at a later date.

Usability further enhanced by Windows® 8

When the interactive plasma display is connected to a PC and input is performed directly on the screen, the display can even be used like a huge tablet device. Moreover, a demonstration test was conducted by connecting the interactive plasma display to a PC installed with Windows® 8 (an operating system optimized for tablet use) and handwriting recognition software. The test demonstrated that the interactive plasma display had become even more user friendly, in terms of handwriting recognition accuracy, the enlargement/minimization of screens, and the switching between applications using the swipe gesture.

Profile of the Shiga Plant of Toray Industries, Inc.

A chemical company that provides support for the foundations of modern life

Toray Industries, Inc. was founded in 1926 as a rayon producer, Toyo Rayon. Soon, the company expanded into nylon, polyester, and other synthetic fibers, leading to the adoption of its current name.
Using its expertise in synthetic organic chemistry gained through research, development and production of synthetic fiber, the company began to combine this knowledge with polymer chemistry and nanotechnology. This led to an expansion from synthetic fiber into the fields of synthetic resin, film, and filters, and even into life sciences. Today, Toray provides support for the lives of people, by providing materials essential for various everyday products, from food packaging and household water purifiers, to electronic displays and monitors, and even automobiles and aircraft.