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Automation technology then and now

As Mitsubishi Electric celebrates three decades in Europe, much has changed, in terms of both automation technology and the markets the company serves.

In 1978 Mitsubishi Electric opened for business in Europe, bringing with it the world’s first compact programmable logic controller (PLC). Thirty years on, and the company has over eight million PLC installations to its credit, and has grown to become one of Europe’s most successful automation businesses. Today Mitsubishi Electric has a sales and support network that spans every country in Europe, and a product line for plant and machinery automation that includes everything from controller and drive systems to servo and motion control technology, industrial robots, circuit breakers and magnetic contactors.

Mitsubishi’s presence in Europe began as a distribution business, and the quality of the products and their innovative design ensured that there was rapid growth over a very short period of time. But as market requirements have changed, so Mitsubishi’s presence has evolved, and today the company has direct sales offices in ten European countries, numerous satellite branches and distribution partners, and six production facilities dedicated to meeting the needs of the local market. The infrastructure has also grown to support Russia, the eastern European market and South Africa.

Today, Mitsubishi’s Factory Automation business group includes three divisions: Industrial Automation, Mechatronics EDM (electri-cal discharge machining) and Mechatronics CNC (CNC control and drive technology). The activities of the three divisions are co-ordinated from the European Centre for Factory Automation products, formed in Germany in April 2003 along with a central warehouse for factory automation products which serves all of Mitsubishi Electric’s European branches.

At the same time, the product range has been broadened to ad-dress every aspect of the modern automated manufacturing busi-ness, from the shop floor to the highest levels of the enterprise. The Mitsubishi Electric name has become synonymous across Europe for the highest quality automation products. And the prod-ucts don’t simply meet the evolving needs of the market, they also drive the way manufacturers think about automation.

When the company launched the first generation of compact PLCs into Europe, it is no exaggeration to say that they revolutionised the automation market. This was the very first time that anyone had combined the controller CPU, power supply, inputs and outputs all in a single housing, and the new product laid the foundation for the worldwide success of this technology. The company’s pioneering “everything in a single housing” concept is still the main characteristic of compact PLCs today.

If productivity and efficiency were crucial three decades ago, then they are even more so today. The demands on both manufacturing and automation technology have increased significantly as com-panies strive to meet the needs of rapidly changing markets. Today the success of manufacturing operations increasingly depends on evercloser integration of production and business processes. Mitsubishi Electric’s latest development caters directly to these needs: The new iQ Platform system now makes it possible to con-trol all key manufacturing control technologies – PLC, motion control, CNC and robotics from a single integrated platform. Communications between the individual controllers and the higher-level management systems is conducted in real time.

The iQ Platform is the first system in the world to offer these capabilities, demonstrating once again Mitsubishi Electric’s outstanding innovation and creativity, and its ability and willingness to lead from the front with the technologies and concepts that will become the standard approaches of tomorrow.

Environment and social responsibility
What makes the demands on modern manufacturers doubly stringent is the fact that businesses are also under pressure from customers to demonstrate social responsibility and environmental credentials. Both governments and individuals across the globe are looking to manufacturers to help to make the world a better place to live and to realise the vision of a sustainable society where life-styles can improve continually in harmonious coexistence with the natural environment.

Mitsubishi of course is active in developing the technologies that will help to realise these goals, with one example being the semi-conductor technology developed by the company, which is among others used for wind power and solar installations. But Mitsubishi is also driving this philosophy from within, making its commitment to the environment and for social responsibility a huge priority beyond the business activities for which it is more widely known. This initiative is collectively known as “Environmental Vision 2021” which sets specific goals for environmental performance to be reached by the company’s centenary in 2021.

The Mitsubishi family
Mitsubishi Electric is part of the big Mitsubishi family, which con-sists of more than 40 independent companies, including Mitsubishi Motors, Nikon and Kirin Beer. Although they derive from the same origin, they are autonomous businesses. Mitsubishi Electric plays an active part in several areas of technology throughout the world, such as space technology, factory automation and solar technology. The Mitsubishi Electric Corporation was founded in 1921 with the headquarters in Tokyo, from where more than 100 branches are controlled worldwide. In 2007 the company generated total turnover of €26.4 billion with a workforce of 102,835 employees.


Mitsubishi Electric Headquarters: The German branch of Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. now has a total of nine divisions. The European headquarters of the company’s Factory Automation business group is also located in Ratingen


Press Office:

Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V.
Factory Automation European Business Group
Karin Müller
Gothaer Str. 8
40880 Ratingen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)2102 486-6130
Fax: +49 (0)2102 486 3548 

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