Peter Dietz, Drives and Motion Division, Yaskawa Europe: Together with Gemamex we will focus on the Bulgarian market of automation and lift systems

Automation & RoboticsInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2015

Peter Dietz, Junior Channel Partner Manager,
Drives and Motion Division, Yaskawa Europe

Would you please present yourself and Yaskawa’s business and corporate structure to the readers of Engineering Review? How is the company represented in Europe and what production facilities does it have on its disposal?
With annual sales of over 360 billion yen, Yaskawa is a global leader in the manufacture of servo drives (Sigma Series), inverter drives (including the A1000) and Motoman industrial robots. Founded in 1915 in Japan, the company’s philosophy throughout this time has been to strive for the highest quality. This has made Yaskawa the global leader it is today.

Vipa GmbH in Herzogenaurach/Germany, which specialises in PLC visualisation and process automation, became part of Yaskawa in 2012. In October 2014, Yaskawa then acquired The Switch Engineering Cooperation, which operates in the wind turbine sector. Yaskawa is now one of the few global companies capable of supplying components and solutions for almost all industries from a single source.

Yaskawa Europe GmbH, based in Eschborn near Frankfurt, operates three divisions - Drives & Motion (drives and control technology), Robotics (industrial robots) and Vipa (automation and control technology) - and services the markets of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the region of the former Soviet Union. Yaskawa Europe has over 1,350 employees, 30 branches and seven European production locations.

Yaskawa is a global pioneer in drive and automation solutions. What is the aftermath of a whole century on the global market - what are your greatest achievements and which goals remained unfulfilled?
To this day the name Yaskawa remains inseparable from the term ”mechatronics”. In 1969 Yaskawa Electric Corp, the Japanese parent company of Yaskawa Europe, helped to shape the field. Since then mechatronics has entered vocabularies all over the world. Today our strategic focus lies in efficiency concepts and creating total system solutions - covering everything from the robot and the drive and control technology to the human machine interface (HMI).

Which are the key products and solutions in Yaskawa’s portfolio and what industries are they aimed at? What are the most innovative technologies for the realization of the ”Unmanned factory” vision that you are developing?
One key sector for us is the packaging industry. Plant engineering for packaging companies has to offer a great degree of flexibility. For such automated processes to function with high precision, it is also vital that all the individual components, from control to robotics, work together in harmony.

As a single supplier with the divisions Drives+Motion, Robotics and Vipa, we are in an excellent position to meet these demands. Packaging technology is therefore a major market segment for Yaskawa, and one that we are advancing both with new product developments and through sales organisation measures.

A current example of our ”unmanned factory” vision is the use of robots in laboratory automation. When it comes to laboratory work, safety, quality and especially reproducibility are the top priorities. However, it is particularly during tasks that need to be repeated with absolute precision that mistakes can creep in due to lapses in concentration.

With robots that is not the case: they complete their tasks with pinpoint accuracy, 24 hours a day - even in situations that could be dangerous for human workers due to the substances used. What is more, Yaskawa robots are already used today in the production of Yaskawa’s own products, including robots and frequency inverters.

Why did you choose Gemamex for a partner in Bulgaria? How would you estimate your cooperation so far and what plans do you have for joint development in the coming years?
Gemamex has been operating in the automation business in Bulgaria for a long time and has an excellent reputation in the field. Gemamex has also been working with Yaskawa products for over ten years. Combined with its vision of being the ”problem solver” for the market, these two facts make Gemamex the ideal partner for Yaskawa.

We have set our targets for the Bulgarian region very high. Together with Gemamex, we are aiming to grow in our target business areas. For this purpose Yaskawa held a training session in Sofia this February for Gemamex and its customers. This important training session was a great success and we are looking forward to a successful and long-term collaboration with Gemamex and their customers in the Bulgarian automation market.

In the medium term Gemamex is beneficial to Yaskawa not just as a product distributor, but also as a provider of applications and solutions, especially in the lift market. This represents real added value for us.

What challenges does Yaskawa’s business face in Europe and Bulgaria in particular and what peculiarities does these markets have? What is your company’s strategy for further business growth and expansion in the region?
Bulgaria is an attractive market for Yaskawa - not least because we believe the country holds enormous growth potential for the coming years. One particular focus will be on lift applications, as approximately 40,000 lifts are due to be modernised in Bulgaria in the next few years. As far as our partnership in Bulgaria is concerned, Gemamex will offer a lift drive package consisting of Yaskawa solutions.