Fujitsu established a joint venture (DUCNET Co., Ltd.) with FANUC and NTT one month ago. Now, Fujitsu has lifted the veil on four new offerings that build on its new cloud direction and goal to expand the company’s digital manufacturing footprint.
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Fujitsu established a joint venture (DUCNET Co., Ltd.) with FANUC and NTT one month ago. Now, Fujitsu has lifted the veil on four new offerings that build on its new cloud direction and goal to expand the company’s digital manufacturing footprint:
- A subscription-based version of Fujitsu’s COLMINA IIoT platform
- Availability and support for Siemens Digital Industries Software's Xcelerator and Altair HyperWorks Unlimited Virtual Appliance for remote design and development
- A manufacturing site expert service to support improvement initiatives through interactive, real-time remote communication
- A virtual client that enables graphics-intensive applications (Three-Dimensional (3D) Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE)) in the cloud
Together, these announcements illustrate the impact and staying power of the industrial cloud as part of the post-pandemic “new normal.”
All in on the Cloud
DUCNET was established to offer cloud services first in the machine tool industry and will gradually expand to the automotive, machinery, and electronics markets. It will start providing cloud services in April 2021, when Fujitsu plans to launch the COLMINA subscription service. The cloud-based COLMINA service offering will provide plant dashboards and analysis templates to minimize the Information Technology (IT) burden and improve accessibility for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which otherwise may not invest in or have access to all the tools. This is one of the general benefits of the cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), in addition to ensuring each user has the latest version of the software.
Another benefit is remote collaboration, which is why Siemens and Altair are in the mix. The Siemens Xcelerator portfolio is a cloud-based project collaboration service that enables teams of engineers in different locations to collaborate on design work, including CAD. Altair’s CAE software is also cloud-based and enables remote development and simulation of digital products. Fujitsu will begin offering the Siemens and Altair products in Japan from March 2021 and in Europe and North America later in the year.
Fujitsu’s sales target for the COLMINA subscription service and the Monozukuri solutions business are projected to total US$478 million (50 billion yen) by Fiscal Year (FY) 2025.
The New Normal
The use of the cloud for general-purpose enterprise business applications is nothing new, but for reasons of security, privacy, and performance, these same technologies have not found their way to the manufacturing floor until recently. While the shift was undoubtedly underway before 2020 with the natural evolution of analytics, edge computing, and wireless remote control (versus simply monitoring, which is where the Machine-to-Machine (M2M)/Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market started), the pandemic has served as an accelerant for adoption.
The cloud allows manufacturers to access—and pay for—only the applications and capabilities they need, rather than buying systems or software with features that are not fully used. This removes the investment risk and reduces deployment costs. Furthermore, the cloud is critical for capabilities like remote monitoring, remote service, and remote support.
Some manufacturers had started to embrace the cloud for production-critical applications like Manufacturing Execution Systems (MESs) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), yet the market was largely caught flat footed when it came to cloud-based tools for manufacturing engineering, collaborative design, and New Product Introduction (NPI). Therefore, Fujitsu’s starting place makes sense, focusing on collaborative design environments in remote work, cloud-based CAE, remote expert services, and virtualization for remote use of on-premises systems. What is missing is the extra step to layer more transformative capabilities the industry has been talking about for a while now like code-free app development and digital thread. In some ways, Fujitsu is reacting to the current situation by bringing old technologies and ways of business into a digital environment, rather than offering something uniquely transformative. The COLMINA servitization switch and emphasis on cloud offerings serve as important data points for the industry’s direction of travel.
 For example, see ABI Insight Siemens and AWS Combine to Deliver VW’s Industrial Cloud