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Jun 29, 2009

Panasonic Develops Power-Saving Simulation Technology for Factories

Panasonic Develops Power-Saving Simulation Technology for Factories

Osaka, Japan - Panasonic Corporation has developed a unique simulation technology that enables each factory to identify suitable power-saving solutions to reduce CO2 emissions in manufacturing. Adopting this technology, coupled with its employees' efforts in energy conservation, a Panasonic factory has successfully reduced CO2 emissions per basic unit as much as 46%. Panasonic plans to spread this technology throughout the group to augment its efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing.

This simulation technology allows users to evaluate factory processes that use energy-consuming manufacturing or power supply equipment by conducting a simple yet precise test, so that they can accurately calculate efficient operating conditions for the equipment without compromising quality or performance. To be specific, the power-saving simulators evaluate and optimize conditions for using air-conditioning equipment, high pressure air, typically used in clean rooms, and drying/baking furnaces. Then they determine power-saving solutions tailored to each factory.

Up to now, operation of the drying process has relied upon the experience and intuition of engineers. But it was difficult to predict any impact on product quality when manufacturing conditions are altered. Panasonic's new simulation technology has solved this problem. The simulator can find optimal operating conditions for the furnace by predicting not only the drying conditions - based on estimated internal temperatures, humidity and air currents of the furnace that are invisible from outside - but also the final drying quality characteristics.

Operation and maintenance of clean rooms require a large amount of energy. Once the air conditioners were set, however, it was difficult to change the settings because environmental factors such as airborne dust, temperatures and humidity in the clean room can influence product quality. In addition, analysis by the conventional air-conditioning simulators had poor temperature accuracy of ±2°C, meaning they could not accurately assess power saving for clean rooms that require analytical accuracy of under ±0.5°C.

Panasonic's new air-conditioning simulation technology adds the analytical boundary conditions separately, making it possible to predict the air currents, temperature, humidity and pressure of the overall factory, including air-conditioning equipment for the clean room and external ventilation, with a high degree of accuracy almost identical to reality. Thus the technology allows for testing various power-saving ideas accurately at the theoretical level to maximize the amount of energy savings.

With regard to high pressure air, usually it is continuously supplied to the equipment used for various processes through a complex system of pipes linked to several compressors in the factory. Panasonic's optimal design simulator can model piping diameter and layout for the entire factory to find an optimal piping layout that minimizes pressure loss. This simulator enables users to review the piping network and operating conditions in the factory, resulting in reductions of energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

By introducing the new energy-saving simulation technology, Panasonic's Energy Company has successfully reduced CO2 emissions at its factory in Wakayama Prefecture in central Japan. The factory, a core of Panasonic's energy business, produces rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for mobile devices. It saw the production doubled in fiscal year 2009 ended in March 2009, compared to the previous fiscal year. Thanks to the new simulation technology and employees' continuing initiatives to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, however, its CO2 emissions rose only 10% and CO2 emissions per basic unit were reduced by as much as 46% from the previous fiscal year.

The technological development represents Panasonic's new initiative which involves changes in the power supply equipment and reforms in production process, leading to CO2 reductions as well as improvement in productivity. Panasonic will expand the use of this power-saving approach to other factories including Energy Company's state-of-the-art battery plant now under construction in Osaka.

About Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 7.77 trillion yen (US$78.4 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2009. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE: PC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at http://panasonic.net/.

Media Contacts:

Akira Kadota, International PR
Panasonic Corporation
Tel: 03-6403-3040 Fax: 03-3436-6766
Panasonic News Bureau
Tel: 03-3542-6205 Fax: 03-3542-9018
*The content in the following news releases is accurate at the time of publication but may be subject to change without notice. Please note therefore that these documents may not always contain the most up-to-date information.

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