Yaskawa opened a new manufacturing facility in Slovenia

Automation & RoboticsBusinessSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 2/2019 • 08.07.2019

After it successfully launched the European production of its Motoman robots at the end of 2018, the Japanese technology group Yaskawa opened its new robot production facility with European robotics development centre at Kocevje, Slovenia. The new facility takes up a total gross area of over 12 000 m2, 10 000 m2 of which are for production. It offers capacity for the manufacture of up to 10 000 Motoman robots per year. Up to 150 new jobs are to be gradually created.

The official opening took place in April this year. The ceremony was attended by numerous representatives of the Yaskawa management and politicians, including the Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, the EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc and other officials from Slovenia and all over Europe. The construction of the facility took two years and an investment worth 25 million euro. The new manufacturing plant will supplement the existing production facilities in Japan and China and will satisfy about 80% of the European demand for Motoman robots, the company states.

“Slovenia and Japan are bound by a long tradition of economic cooperation. I am convinced that this factory will further strengthen our cooperation in future. We will do our best to ensure that Slovenia remains an attractive investment location”, Prime Minister Sarec said in Kocevje.


New standards for sustainability and efficiency

The factory in Kocevje will mainly manufacture the current Motoman GP series with a payload of 7 to 225 kg. “The GP series includes compact and extremely efficient handling robots for high-speed joining, packaging and general handling applications. “GP” stands for “General Purpose”, also for diverse applications. The 6-axis robots are thus true productivity drivers”, the company claims in an official press release.

“The new factory building fulfils stringent requirements regarding sustainability and efficiency. The prerequisites for this were created in the planning phase with a software-supported simulation of the building in the form of a “digital twin”. The “Building Information Modelling” method – abbreviated to BIM – was used for the coordinated planning of the whole building with all parallel works, and simulated in the virtual digital model prior to the start of construction, then tested and corrected as needed”, the press release further says.


Response to the dynamic demand changes

The new plant is the third production facility of Yaskawa worldwide for the manufacturing of Motoman industrial robots. With this investment the company is responding to the distinct rise in demand in Europe and the EMEA region.

“Our goal is to shorten supply chains and delivery times, to enable us to react faster to regional market requirements and our customers’ wishes – not only with the new plant, but also with a major European robotics development centre”, Masahiro Ogawa, Executive Officer of Yaskawa Electric Corp. and General Manager Robotics Division, explained.
“With this investment we want to further strengthen direct contacts to customers in Europe and work even more closely on the path to Industrie 4.0, not least through first-class customer service”, Bruno Schnekenburger, CEO & President of Yaskawa Europe, added.


Strengthening European operations

With over 430 000 installed units Yaskawa is one of the largest global companies in the field of industrial robots. It is also a leading international supplier of drive, automation and control technology, as well as components for the generation of alternative energy.

Employing a workforce of over 1900 at various European locations, Yaskawa Europe headquartered in Eschborn, Germany, recently generated annual sales exceeding 600 million euro, the company website announces. Approximately 300 people are currently employed at Yaskawa’s European Robotics Division, whose head office is located near Munich. Yaskawa has maintained its own subsidiary in Slovenia since 1990.

The company discloses it is pursuing an ambitious expansion strategy in Europe. In relocating its technological know-how and production competence from Asia to Europe, the company, founded in 1915, is consciously acting against the international trend.

“Current investments in Slovenia, similar to those recently made in Germany, France and Sweden, constitute a strategic element of the Europe initiative of the Yaskawa Group, as anchored in our global corporate goals “Vision 2025”, Manfred Stern, Regional Head Yaskawa Europe, explained.

“Expanding our production capacity will enable us to further improve the supply chain, shorten our lead times and enhance the service for our European customers,” Manfred Stern, President and CEO of Yaskawa Europe, clarified. He added that “Yaskawa’s Cumbernauld plant (Scotland) for servo drives and inverters will continue to operate at current level of utilization and remains to be a vital element of Yaskawa’s manufacturing footprint needed to support the growing demand for drive products from Yaskawa in Europe”.


Photos: Yaskawa