NGK INSULATORS, LTD. (hereinafter, “NGK”) announces that it will begin a logistics demonstration using its lithium-ion rechargeable batteries EnerCera®at Nagoya Central Wholesale Market Main Office on February 6. This demonstration will be conducted with the goal of creating a new, highly efficient in-market logistics model. The flow of goods and personnel will be monitored and visualized with indoor/outdoor position trackers equipped with EnerCera. This marks the first time in which multiple EnerCera-equipped trackers will be used in a demonstration carried out at an actual work site.

This demonstration project has been adopted and will be implemented as a project to support the resolution of proposed issues*1 under the Hatch Technology NAGOYA program. This program selects companies and other entities that possess advanced technology solutions that can help to solve administrative and other issues proposed by the City of Nagoya, and provides support for social demonstrations of those technologies. SAGAWA EXPRESS CO., LTD. (Head Office: Kyoto) was selected to implement this demonstration. NGK’s role will be to measure and analyze factors such as the flow of goods in the fresh produce building using indoor/outdoor position trackers.

In Japan, a driver shortage in the logistics industry over the last few years is expected to result in what is known as the “Year 2024 Problem” in logistics. In this context, the Standardization of Fresh Produce Distribution*2 is being implemented across Japan as a government-led initiative to integrate logistics rules to achieve efficient distribution. Against this backdrop, a lack of truck waiting areas, as well as truck unloading and loading bays, have long been a source of concern around the fresh produce building at Nagoya Central Wholesale Market Main Office. In this demonstration project, indoor/outdoor position trackers will be attached to forklifts, personnel, and pallets used for transporting items within the fresh produce building, and quantitative data will be recorded on the lines of flow of each measured factor within the market. By visualizing the lines of flow of people and items and how the site is used, which could not be monitored previously, the quantitative data will aid in studies to establish a new in-market logistics model that will help to solve issues such as how to use space more efficiently and prevent accidents through operational improvements within the market. In February, indoor/outdoor position trackers are scheduled to begin collecting data on lines of flow. In March, the demonstration project’s results are scheduled to be announced at a presentation on the findings of the demonstration project.

The indoor/outdoor position trackers that will be used can be operated maintenance-free both indoors and outdoors without the need for battery replacement or recharging. This is accomplished through solar cells that convert light energy from indoor lights, sunlight, and other sources into electricity. The trackers can provide high-precision position data, as well as record temperature, humidity, and acceleration. Sending this data to the cloud and other locations enables accurate and efficient data analysis. The EnerCera batteries installed in the trackers are capable of high efficiency recharging with tiny amounts of power made available by environmental power generation. Despite their ultra-thin and compact design, they can provide enough large-capacity power to run devices. As a power source for compact IoT devices, EnerCera batteries can be used in wearable devices and logistics trackers.

Based on the knowledge and expertise to be gained from this demonstration project, NGK will explore solution businesses that utilize position data, including not only logistics, but also monitoring for the behavior and work environment of office personnel, and analysis for the flow of people at stores, factories, and other specific locations. Leveraging the features of EnerCera, which include being ultra-compact and thin, having a high capacity and high output, being highly heat resistant, and having a long life, NGK will continue to collaborate with a variety of partners and develop applications for a wide range of fields, thereby helping to realize an IoT society.