The new factory, opened in April, will complement Yaskawa’s two production facilities in Japan and China and cover approximately four-fifths of Europe’s demand for Motoman robots.
The Japanese corporation Yaskawa, which is considered the largest producer of industrial robots in the world, opened a new plant of industrial robots and a European robotics development center in Slovenia’s Kočevje after two years of construction. The Kočevje factory, whose construction started in November 2017, is officially starting to manufacture six-axis industrial robots for the European, the Middle East, African and Russian markets. The EUR 25m investment was supported by the state with EUR 5.6m.
The official launch of the Yaskawa Europe Robotics plant was attended by Slovenia’s Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Minister of Economy Zdravko Počivalšek and European Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
First Yaskawa factory ouside Asia
Kočevje is the first place in Europe chosen by Yaskawa to produce industrial robots and also the first Yaskawa factory outside Asia. The factory has been running test operations since November last year.
Minister Počivalšek announced during the visit to the Kočevje plant in December last year that the plant would produce seven different types of robots and that it would create 200 new jobs with high added value.
In 1994, the Japanese corporation Yaskawa Electric took over the operating Slovenian company Motoman Robotec in Germany, and in 1996 founded the company for the production of Yaskawa Ristro robot cells in Ribnica. Yaskawa Slovenia in Ribnica focuses on sales in Slovenia and the markets of the former Yugoslavia. For the new robot factory in Kočevje, Yaskawa founded the company Yaskawa Europe Robotics, the development and production of robots.
Rapid information flow is a key advantage
In an interview with Delo’s Simona Fajfar on 15 April, President of Yaskawa Electric CorpHiroshi Ogasawara said that the Kočevje factory will be connected in the future to its global network, which will be the biggest difference compared to the other factories. Kočevje will use the MSE system (manual executive system) or a production management system, which is a computer system for monitoring and optimising the elements of the production process in real time. “This will be our biggest advantage,” says Ogasawara. “Amongst other things, this will mean that, for example, all production data in Kočevje can be seen in Japan, and we will be even more responsive due to this rapid information flow. If someone in Europe needs a specific robot, we can take action in Japan immediately, since the information will be immediately available to us. Everything will be in a kind of network, which is the main feature of this system.”
The new factory has just under 10,000m2 of usable space and will be able to produce up to 10,000 robots per year. Currently it has 50 employees and will employ 90 to 100 employees by the end of this year. By 2023, it will employ around 150 people, while about a tenth of them will work in research and development, so a total of 200 employees.
Yaskawa is a Japanese corporation with more than 15,000 employees and annual sales of EUR 3.8bn. It is one of the leading manufacturers of servo and inverter drives. Its most important segment, which represents 51% of its sales, are the industrial robots Motoman. So far, more than 430,000 industrial robots have been manufactured all over the world.
PHOTO: Uroš Hočevar/Delo