NEC to ensure 30% cut in network maintenance cost at Sumitomo Chemical plant

NEC UNIVERGE PF switchNetworking company NEC said Sumitomo Chemical has adopted NEC’s Software-Defined Networking (SDN) solutions at its Chiba Works as part of strategy for building a digital plant.

Sumitomo Chemical has also constructed a new network infrastructure for the Works, aiming at realizing a next-generation manufacturing plant driven by IoT. NEC has supplied its SDN-compatible product, the UNIVERGE PF series for the network infrastructure at Sumitomo Chemical’s Chiba Works.

Business and Work Process innovation through IoT is one of the initiatives for growth, according to Sumitomo Chemical’s 3-year Corporate Business Plan. The company is leveraging IoT technologies and promoting real-time visibility and sophistication in the Sumitomo Chemical Group’s supply chain information management.

Benefits of NEC UNIVERGE PF series

SDN enables the flexible and rapid construction of a Virtual Tenant Network (VTN) with different security levels. This permits the application of different security policies to each system and helps to minimize the damage level from cyber attacks, while supporting systems utilizing IoT.

The use of SDN enables the visualization of network configuration and the status of communications on a Graphical User Interface (GUI) screen and centralizes control over the virtual network. This allows the rapid pinpointing of a failure if it occurs and enables measures to be taken for recovery.

Sumitomo Chemical’s Chiba Works has two sites — the Anegasaki District and the Sodegaura District — connected by a network. A backup SDN controller installed in the Sodegaura District and a dual cluster function enable two Districts to operate its own network independently of the other.

The use of SDN allows the company’s personnel in charge of information system operation, instead of a system engineer from an external firm, to build and operate multi-layered networks more easily while maintaining their security. It is expected that the Chiba Works could reduce the current network maintenance cost by approximately 30 percent.

Sumitomo Chemical is building a system capable of performing on-site maintenance with a tablet PC, such as examining drawings of facilities, equipment, etc. within the plant and prepare maintenance records at the site.

NEC said a virtualized network with SDN enables maintenance staff to have access to information on plant instruments and equipment at the site while keeping strict security measures unaffected. Sumitomo Chemical is looking into the viability of predicting potential failures at the plant by AI and big data analysis with the use of sensors attached to plant equipment for collecting process data.

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