The Study Group for the Advancement of Yokkaichi Complex

I. Background of the establishment of the Study Group for the Advancement of Yokkaichi Complex

In the petrochemical industry, international competition is intensifying due to various changes in the environment surrounding it, such as a drop in raw material costs due to the shale oil/gas revolution in North America, concerns about a decrease in domestic demand, and the rise of Asian manufacturers. In addition, with a worldwide increase in awareness of global environmental issues, the industry is increasingly required to use renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions.

At the same time, we are also facing competition from other companies and production sites in Japan. Under such circumstances, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of the businesses in Yokkaichi City, we need to consider measures to secure the advantage of the city in terms of operating environment, such as efficient utilization of industrial infrastructure. In addition, there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency of production by making use of leading-edge technologies, such as IoT and AI, and a regional initiative towards a sustainable complex is required.

II. Organization of the Study Group for the Advancement of Yokkaichi Complex

[Committee]
(15 companies)
Complex No. 1: Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, Ltd., JSR Corporation,
Showa Yokkaichi Sekiyu Co., Ltd., Nippon Aerosil Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company, Inc., Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation
Complex No. 2: KH Neochem Co., Ltd., Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd., Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc.
Complex No. 3: DKS Co. Ltd., DIC Corporation, Tosoh Corporation, Toho Gas Co., Ltd.

[Related public administrative organizations]

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, Chubu Kinki Industrial Safety and Inspection Department

Government of Mie Prefecture (Company Attraction Promotion Division, Manufacturing and Innovation Division)

[Administration] Government of Yokkaichi City (Commerce and Industry Division, Environmental Protection Division, City Planning Division, Fire Department Preventive Security Division)
[Past meetings] 1st: August 1, 2018, 2nd: December 26, 2018, 3rd: March 8, 2019, 4th: June 27, 2019, 5th: December 26, 2019

Objectives

III. Activities of the Regulation Review Subcommittee

Chairman JSR Corporation Participating
companies
13 companies out of 15 member companies of this study group

1. Streamlining of regulations by introducing new methods

(1) Utilization of new technologies such as drones

[Current status]
  • · Companies that have flown drones on their premises: Cosmo Oil, Chubu Electric Power, Showa Yokkaichi Sekiyu, and JSR.
  • · The Yokkaichi City Fire Department conducted test flights on the premises of six companies, including an area over a crude oil tank under an open inspection, with the department’s own drones. The test flights were also conducted over hazardous material storage yards and tank yards.
  • · The Yokkaichi City Fire Department has developed operational guidelines for drone flights in the complex, including hazardous material areas (effective as of May 1, 2019).

(2) Utilization of new technologies such as IoT (utilization of non-explosion-proof equipment)

[Current status]
  • · The Fire and Disaster Management Agency announced its official thoughts on the use of non-explosion-proof type portable equipment at refueling sites through its notice dated August 8, 2018.
  • · The Yokkaichi City Fire Department has developed guidelines on the use of non-explosion-proof type portable electronic devices at manufacturing sites or the like (effective as of May 1, 2019).
  • · In accordance with the above guidelines, companies are proceeding with the revision of their preventive regulations to introduce non-explosion-proof type portable electronic devices (tablet PCs, vital sensors, smart glasses, etc.).

2. Streamlining environmental regulations

(1) Recognition of green spaces outside premises as part of those obligated by the Factory Location Act, (2) Improvement of the detailed rules for operating the Pollution Prevention Agreement, (3) Review of the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act and related prefectural ordinances
Regulatory values that are stipulated in the current regulations but are not publicly known and not supported by any logical rationale will be corrected (streamlined) to reasonable values.

3. Streamlining response to regulations on industrial waste disposal

Regarding the on-site audits of industrial waste disposal sites and contractors obligated by a prefectural ordinance, we will visualize the contents of the audits conducted by individual companies including assured conditions so that member companies can share the audits and improve operational efficiency (streamlining) by eliminating the audits conducted by individual companies. The Yokkaichi Regional Environmental Measure Council has started the development of rules to share on-site audit among the member companies of the council.

IV. Activities of the Inter-Company Collaboration Subcommittee

Chairman Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. Participating
companies
12 companies out of 15 member companies of this study group

1. Sharing of products, raw materials, services, etc.

(1) Regarding toluene, xylene, and hydrogen, which are products for some and raw materials for others, we will offer a matching service between companies that have surplus products and companies that need them for the purpose of facility expansion or cost reduction. Discussions are ongoing between related companies.

(2) To improve the efficiency of work conducted by using aged equipment, collaborative work between companies is being considered.

2. Education and training

(1) Discussed information sharing about each company’s education facilities and the utilization of shared information

(2) Continuation of the human resources development program for chemical and process industries (a program commissioned by Yokkaichi City)

(3) Held an IoT-focused training course in the city as a part of a program to develop human resources for plant operation and security

[Date: February 19-20, 2019, 51 participants from 21 companies]

(4) Held a digital technology-focused training course in the city as a part of a program to develop human resources for plant operation and security
33 people from 19 companies participated in the three-day course on January 31, February 7, and 14, 2020.

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