Clean manufacturing … smart highways: Panasonic has plans for that and more

By Alex Wolmart
Newark | Jun 12, 2019 at 7:15 am

Jim Vona rattles off just some of the things his division at Panasonic North America is responsible for.

There are the technology and solutions that go into the devices and products that, as the company slogan says, move us. There are items such as switches, connectors, batteries, sensors, compressors and motors inside our phones, cars and home appliances.

And that’s just the start.

Vona, the director of the strategic business development division at the Panasonic Industrial Devices Sales Co. of America, said the offerings of his division are almost too high to count.

“PIDSA is probably the most diverse division within (Panasonic) from the standpoint of product offering,” he said. “We’re literally responsible for tens of thousands of very different, diverse products. Our footprint really is quite broad.”

Vona, speaking at the company’s Innovation with a Purpose Day, explained Panasonic’s future products and shift in business practices.

While many people still associate Panasonic with consumer electronics, Vona said the company long ago made a pivotal shift in its business model. While it previously generated 50% of its revenue from the consumer as a B2C company, it now generates 95% of its business as a B2B provider.

Vona said there are three sectors that make up about 60% of Panasonic North America’s revenue: automotive electronics, avionics and PIDSA.

Vona said future development at Panasonic includes projects developing tech for e-mobility and smart cities and highways, while its manufacturing facilities stay committed to clean manufacturing and lowering carbon emissions.

Plans for smart highways include sensors that can detect the condition of a road surface — whether it’s wet or not — as well as accident and traffic pattern detection, he said.

Vona also said his division is doing a lot with the Internet of Things, or IoT, working on recording and collecting data with sensors, moving it through 5G and processing it with, more and more, artificial intelligence.

Vona said Panasonic has a vast array of sensors and technologies that help support 5G communications. The company has also invested, Vona said, extensively in artificial intelligence — having acquired the company Arimo Inc., an AI behavioral platform that supposedly delivers predictive insights in commercial IoT applications.

“With IoT, it’s sensing or measuring an environment,” he said. “Factories, schools or a city. It’s having these edge sensors that can understand the environment, record that data, collect that data and then move that data through something like 5G and then process that data, more and more, using AI and storing it somewhere.”

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