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Fujikura – from manual alignment to AI tech – 1978 to 2022

Johannesburg, 19 Jan 2022
Read time 3min 10sec

Fujikura, a Japanese company, was founded in February 1885 by Zenpachi Fujikura. The company started by manufacturing silk and cotton, insulated winding electrical wires. Since then, Fujikura has grown to an industrial giant with over 50 000 employees, clocking over USD7 billion per annum and has become one of the largest cable manufacturers in the world. Fujikura developed the first arc fusion splice machine in 1978, the FR-1.

The Fujikura-FR-1 unit comprised an electro-mechanical component and a microscope. The alignment was done manually by the fibre technician, using the microscope to visually see the fibres in order to manually align them using X- and Y-axis adjustment screws. If the technician did everything correctly, the splice would be successful. If not, he would have to start again. Each splice could take up to approximately 30 minutes (depending on the operator) and it was very challenging to produce an acceptable splice.

By 1980, single mode (SM) fibres were developed, and by 1985, Fujikura launched the world’s first fully automated arc fusion splicing machine, the F-20 Series. This was the first splicer to use the Fujikura Profile Alignment System (PAS), now commonly used in all modern splicing machines. The "FSM-20CS" was recognised worldwide as being excellent and was put into mass production, which moved Fujikura into the number one world market position. Today, four decades later, Fujikura still remains the world leader in splice equipment.

PAS intelligently recognises the core of the fibre. The splicer detects the refraction of light caused at the core-cladding interface. Images are taken in two orthogonal planes so that the core can be located precisely. The unit uses six high precision stepping motors to align the fibre on the X-axis and Y-axis. The camera focus point on the fibre is also adjusted. PAS information is also used to determine the fibre type, ie, SM, MM, DS, NZ or BIF.

When splicing, in just microseconds, the splicer reads the cleave angle at the edges of the fibre and checks for foreign anomalies like dust or moisture and does a cleaning arc to remove any. The final splice-arc is at DC 8000 volts across two electrodes and is carefully controlled by a very sophisticated (secret) algorithm which sets the arc frequency, arc power and duration. Stepping motors move the fibre in while the unit arcs to achieve a perfect joint.

Splicing machine technology is constantly advancing. The splicing process is much quicker and more precise nowadays. Fujikura’s latest technology, ‘Smart Management’, includes ‘Active Fusion Control Technology’ (AFC).

AFC features ‘True Core Alignment’ via ‘Advanced Image Processing’, which is an advanced type of AI technology to enhance splice quality under all conditions. AFC adjusts the splice algorithm according to environmental variables like the cleave angle, dust, temperature, humidity, etc. For instance, if two fibres are spliced together without AFC activated, and one (or both) has a bad cleave angle, the resultant joint would have a high loss, requiring it to be re-spliced. This is a major time-waster in the field. Modern Fujikura splicers featuring AFC technology would, in such a case, effortlessly adjust the splice algorithm in order to produce a splice with an acceptable splice-loss, thus saving much time in the field.

Technology has changed the way splicing machines function. Splicing with the Fujikura-90S+ or the Fujikura-41S+ splicing machines is a breeze. For more information, contact us at ICL:

Editorial contacts
Managing Director Zach Yacumakis (+27) 11 521 2353
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