The FINANCIAL -- In Japan's day care services, which suffer from a lack of workers, transport operations represent a major burden.
Panasonic uses AI cloud services to automate the production of efficient transport plans.
At the worksites of TSUKUI CORPORATION, which has completed verification testing, considerable efficiency and a revolution in working methods have been achieved.
The Burden of "Transport," Which Accounts for About 30% of the Work
In recent years, steady efforts have been taken to reduce the growing cost of social welfare in Japan. Against this backdrop, the Japanese government has shifted its thinking to "assisting independence." Toward this effort there is an increasing importance placed on the role of "day care service." However, realistically, Japan's long-term care industry is suffering from a lack of workers. In spite of the fact that the ratio of job offers to job seekers in the field of long-term care was at a high level of 3.02 times in 2016 (Source: Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, "Report on Employment Service"), sufficient labor cannot be secured. As a result, work must be distributed among the existing staff, according to Panasonic.
There is also a concern that is particular to the field of day care service, which is the fact that many of the work hours are spent transporting users to and from the facilities. According to a survey by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, approximately 30% of the work each day for day care services in Japan is spent in transporting users back and forth.
One of the main elements in dividing this time is the need to compile a transport plan. The basic data concerning who uses the transport each day exists, but there are many "people-related" factors to be considered, such as the efficiency of the route, friendships among fellow users, the need for a wheelchair, etc.
This work is like solving a difficult puzzle over and over again, but many facilities have created these routes by hand. And in many cases, only veteran staff members have found optimal solutions and grasped the overall facility and user attributes. It takes time to build the puzzle and, from the perspective of the work environment, it is best to solve it as quickly as possible. With this in mind, TSUKUI CORPORATION, one of Japan's major day care service enterprises, and Panasonic set out to jointly develop a "Transport Assistance Service" for long-term care facilities. Verification tests of this service began on January 1, 2018.
A Long Desired System That Automates the Time-consuming Work of Transport Planning
It was based on DRIVEBOSS, a vehicle control system linked to a car navigation system developed and marketed by Panasonic Automotive Electronics Co., Ltd. The system was further improved and completed to function exclusively as a transport assistance service for long-term care facilities while drawing on various on-site issues.
In Tokyo, operations centered on an office called TSUKUI Setagaya-kamisoshigaya day service center. Actual verification began in January 2018, but the project itself started in spring 2017. Detailed restriction data was uploaded to the AI on the cloud, and patterns and combinations were taught. R&D staff from Osaka's Panasonic Head Office traveled back and forth countless times to separate necessary from unnecessary information, build a simple user's interface (UI, operating screen), etc., and conduct elaborate preparations. Looking back at that time, Mr. Soyama recalls how "they duplicated the exact image that I had in mind."
The Ultimate Praise: "We Can Never Return to Our Previous Method"
The supply of the basic functions of the transport assistance service in Japan began in June 2018. Its precedent, DRIVEBOSS, went on sale as a solution for resolving various mobility issues in September 2017. It was originally developed centering on safe driving and work efficiency assistance for vehicles used by ordinary companies, but the present project had its start from the concept of "whether more car navigation features could be utilized to create new value."