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From LTO-1 to LTO-8: Tape Manufacturing in Bedford, MA

Reading Time: 4 minutes

July 28, 2021

In this Q&A, we talk to Andy Feather, Sr. Director, Engineering & Technical Services at FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. about the company’s tape manufacturing process and robust sustainability efforts.

How long has Fujifilm been manufacturing LTO tapes in the U.S.?

We first started LTO tape manufacturing here in Bedford in September 2003.  This was the start of LTO-1 and we have made every generation since then up to the current LTO-8.

How has the manufacturing process changed over the years?

At the start of LTO production, as with most start-up manufacturing processes, it was a very manual process, over the years we have added more and more automation.  We’ve also refined our methods for controlling the manufacturing equipment so, for example, on the winding machines, we focus on preventive maintenance and sophisticated process control to monitor the quality during the tape winding process.  This allows us to reduce the dependence on testing cartridges after they have been wound.

In our packaging operations, we have focused on improvements for the environment.  We’ve introduced soy-based inks for all our printed materials and we’ve eliminated most of the paper instruction sheets and user labels.  We’ve switched to recycled paper and corrugated and reduced the thickness of the plastic cases.  In our latest “bulk” packaging design we have eliminated corrugated completely and reduced the use of plastic shrink film to the absolute bare minimum.

“Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request.” – Andy Feather

What are the advantages of having a manufacturing facility located in the U.S.?

Having our manufacturing facility in the U.S. allows us to respond quickly to any customer request. Much of our production volume is customized with barcode labels specific to a customer’s order.  We can receive the order, custom print and apply the barcode labels, and then drop ship to any location in the U.S. within 48 hours.

Was Fujifilm’s manufacturing facility impacted by COVID?

As an essential business, our manufacturing facility has remained open through the pandemic.  Naturally, we took every precaution to ensure our employees remained safe, including providing masks and reorganizing the facility to accommodate for social distancing.  During the peak of the pandemic last year we minimized the number of staff on-site to just the critical manufacturing employees.  To achieve this we implemented working from home for as many of the administrative functions as possible.  We also implemented a strict visitor policy that ensured that only visitors essential to the ongoing functioning of the manufacturing facility was permitted on-site and while on-site all visitors were required to follow the COVID restrictions,

What changed during COVID and have you kept some of the new processes you may have implemented?

As the pandemic thankfully subsided in the fall of last year we were able to relax some of the restrictions and gradually bring more people back into the facility.  We still have people working from home and continue to social distance while in the facility.  With the experience from last year, we are looking at our work from home policy to allow continued flexibility for our employees where possible.

What are some of the green initiatives manufacturing has initiated?  

The solar panel installation project at our Bedford manufacturing facility began in response to a FUJIFILM corporate mission of energy conservation and Greenhouse gas reduction to address issues of climate change. With 1,870 solar modules, our solar installation has produced 2,977,000 kWh since its inception in November of 2013. That is the equivalent amount of energy used by 4,666 homes during an entire month. It is also the equivalent to a reduction of 1,787 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Over 20 years, this would equal the carbon sequestered by 7,280 acres of U.S. forest in one year.

In addition to our solar panels, we have just recently converted to LED lighting in our manufacturing facility. By converting to LED bulbs we will reduce our carbon footprint by approximately one-third, minimize daily maintenance work, decrease our UV emissions to zero and overall be more energy efficient. With over 3,000 bulbs replaced, we estimate a savings of 400,000 kWh this year!

Of course, tape is the greenest form of data storage available consuming 87% less energy than the equivalent hard drive storage.

What are some of the largest accomplishments manufacturing has achieved that you are particularly proud of?

Fujifilm continues to innovate the technology of LTO tape working with our OEM partners to further enhance the performance of LTO tape cartridges.  As each successive generation of LTO is released, tape cartridge capacity and performance increase which naturally imposes tighter and tighter requirements on the tape, the cartridge, and all the components that go into the product.  In manufacturing, we’ve been able to innovate the production processes to stay ahead of the technical challenges of manufacturing a product that operates in the realm of sub-nanometer tolerances. We’ve achieved this through a continual focus on automation and the dedication and expertise of our engineers and technical personnel.

 

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Active Archive Alliance Members Share Top Data Storage and Active Archive Predictions for 2019

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Explosive data growth continues to be a top challenge for today’s organizations and this growth is only going to increase in the future. In fact, according to analyst firm IDC, by 2025 worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes, with as much of the data residing in the cloud as in data centers.

New technologies and approaches are continually being created to help address this data storage deluge. Members of the Active Archive Alliance from Fujifilm Recording Media, U.S.A., Inc, Spectra Logic, StrongBox Data and Quantum recently shared their insights into what the future looks like for active archives and data storage in 2019. Here are some of their top predictions:

Artificial Intelligence Creates Demand for Active Archives
The evolution of deep learning, machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to expand in 2019 across every industry as the digital transformation wave produces an explosion of big data. With these AI tools, organizations will be able to extract more value from their data than ever before giving rise to an insatiable demand for more data, more analytics…more competitive advantage. A dramatic increase in storage and specifically active archive will be required to cost effectively and efficiently provide accessibility to big data at scale.

Flash Will Gain Wide-Scale Adoption, But a Need to Store Everything Will Make Secondary Storage More Important Than Ever
In the coming year we will see wide-scale adoption of flash storage. Organizations of all sizes will include solid-state drive (SSD) for greater performance, energy savings, space efficiency, and reduced management. New technologies like integrated data protection, storage federation/automation, policy-based provisioning, tiered data movement, and public cloud integration will be built on top of this flash foundation.

With the increased adoption of flash, organizations will also face the challenge of how to affordably store the data that is not mission critical, but still has value and therefore cannot be deleted. With the move to flash organizations will utilize a secondary storage tier to affordably manage all the organizations data, and this will happen through intelligent data management software designed to move data to a more affordable tier, without sacrificing access and searchability of the data.

Shift From Managing Your Storage to Managing Your Data
Data, not the underlying physical storage, is what matters. However, traditional storage systems are “big dumb buckets” that provide precious little insight into what data is growing, what applications or users are accessing it, or what is consuming storage performance and why.

Next-generation storage systems are “data-aware,” with real-time analytics built directly into the storage itself, delivering real-time information on data and performance at massive scale providing insight into data and storage.  As organizations better understand their data (how it is being generated, at what pace, by who, for what project) they are more informed as to how to plan and budget for the future growth of their data, and better understand how to move data to different tiers based on customized policies.

Cross-platform Storage Automation Reduces Costs, Increases Productivity
The reality is that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” storage solution that addresses the multiple requirements faced by most organizations.  The result is that large environments typically rely on multiple storage vendors and point solutions to address the different performance and cost profiles needed for their data. The problem is this adds complexity for IT managers, requiring them to do more with static or shrinking operational budgets. This trend is driving a demand in the industry for solutions that provide automation of data and storage resource management across any storage type from any vendor. Such solutions leverage policy engines and management tools that are driven by multiple types of metadata about the files and their business value as they evolve over time. Such automation tools help data managers know what they have, and gives them control of cross-platform data migration, tiering, active archiving, and protection, without interrupting users. This type of metadata-driven automation will be an increasing trend over the next few years, because it provides demonstrable ROI by reducing OPEX and complexity for IT, breaking storage vendor lock-in, while increasing storage utilization efficiency and user productivity.

Rich Media Content Will Grow Exponentially, Across Many Industries
Video now constitutes 50% of all data. Rich media comprises our video surveillance; consumer images, voice and video; medical imagery, IoT, entertainment and social media. Large and unstructured data is often 50 times or larger than the average corporate database. Video is unique, and it is not typically a good fit for traditional backup; it cannot be compressed or deduplicated, it doesn’t work well with replication, snaps or clones, and ingest speed is critical. Rich media is projected to surpass 100 Zetabytes worldwide by 2020. Expect enterprise data services to be increasingly optimized for large or rich media data sets, with infrastructure optimized for ingest processing and the full life cycle management of forms of rich media.

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