Mitsubishi Electric USA: Pushing The Limits Of Robotics And Automation

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Takeshi Sugiyama, President & CEO The tragedy that occurred on March 18, 2018—when an Uber-operated self-driving vehicle struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg—proved to be a resounding wakeup call for the hoards of technologists who’ve been clamoring for mass adoption of autonomous vehicles. Clearly, the world isn’t ready for self-driving cars, especially Level 5 autonomous vehicles that are meant to operate without the safety net of a driver, and tackle every foreseeable challenge without human intervention. While safe and reliable Level 5 autonomous vehicles are yet to arrive, Mitsubishi Electric USA—the American affiliate of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation—is providing a glimmer of hope. For years, Mitsubishi Electric USA has been a pioneer in manufacturing state-of-the-art cooling and heating products, elevators and escalators, data wall cubes, LCD digital signage monitors, industrial printers, professional photo printers, contact image sensors (CIS), and semiconductor devices. The company is now entering a new phase in its evolution, courtesy a brand new Space & Sensing Systems division at its Cypress, CA headquarters. Earlier this year, it announced that the new division will manufacture satellite on-board equipment, including solar array panels, lithium-ion batteries, and RF equipment.

As part of the new division’s tremendous value-add to autonomous driving, Mitsubishi Electric US will sell Mobile Mapping Systems (MMS) and centimeter-level high-accuracy positioning receivers (AQLOC). MMS, which uses car-mounted GPS antennas, laser scanners, and cameras to gather 3D positioning data for road assets, could prove to be the missing piece in solving the autonomous driving jigsaw puzzle. Designed to create comprehensive 3D maps with high-level accuracy, MMS by Mitsubishi Electric US could potentially be a game changer for the self-driving cars industry. The satellite and MMS equipment will be manufactured at the company’s parent corporation in Japan, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

For more than six decades, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has been the leading contributor to satellite research and development, having participated in the production of more than 500 Japanese and international satellites. Due to its vast experience in the manufacturing and application of satellites, the automotive industry is quietly optimistic that the MMS Mitsubishi Electric US might have the answer to making self-driving cars safe. The company is expected to make mobile mapping and high-precision positioning systems available in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania, where the demand for highly accurate, precise, and efficient field surveys and infrastructure inspections are projected to grow exponentially. “Mitsubishi Electric is known for engineering and manufacturing innovative products. The new Space & Sensing Systems division is a great example of this endeavor. The new division will expand our core offerings and further defines our commitment to growing the company and defining our footprint in the U.S. satellite and sensing markets,” Kent Hora, president & CEO, Mitsubishi Electric USA, said via a press release issued earlier this month.

Adopting New Technologies, Evolving Solutions

Ever since the late 20th century when the first fully autonomous robot was created, the Mitsubishi conglomerate has contributed toward the sophisticated dynamics of robotics and automation technology.


The new division will expand our core offerings and further defines our commitment to growing the company and defining our footprint in the U.S. satellite and sensing markets


In 2002, Mitsubishi Electric USA came into existence and the company quickly found application for robotics and automation in manufacturing, laboratory research, surgery, weaponry, assembly, packaging, safety, education, transport, and earth and space exploration. Whether by partnering with government agencies to improve power and transportation systems, or helping multi-million dollar corporations implement state-of-the-art factory automation systems, Mitsubishi Electric USA hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

To its credit, Mitsubishi Electric USA has constantly evolved it solutions to keep with the influx of cognitive technologies such as IoT, machine learning, and big data, and AI. With modern production facilities requiring real time response from smart machines and information processing facilitated by remote access to cloud-based services, Mitsubishi Electric USA has expanded its product/solution portfolio in automation, robotics, and machine tool technologies. Finding application in industries such as automotive, HVAC, material handling, oil & gas, power and water, and semiconductors, Mitsubishi Electric USA drives robust production improvements by serving discrete and hybrid applications.
On that front, Mitsubishi Electric USA recently launched its e-F@ctory solution designed to enable ‘smart factories’ through IoT-based big data utilization. e-F@ctory optimizes the process of mass manufacturing by connecting all devices and equipment involved in development, manufacturing, and logistics, before analyzing and maximizing the vast amount of gathered data. By aligning its broad suite of factory automation (FA) products with technology partners in the FA domain, Mitsubishi Electric USA is linking IT with FA and ushering in the next generation of manufacturing—headlined by mass customization, preventive maintenance and traceability.

Helping eCommerce Industry with Packaging Solutions

Ranging from bottle filling and labeling to bagging and palletizing, Mitsubishi Electric USA’s automation solutions and products cover every conceivable need of the consumer packaging industry. Through its Pak/iQ portfolio of products and solutions—which include pre-configured diagnostic and maintenance screens, pre-configured operator screens, and a pre-engineered application code library for faster designs— Mitsubishi Electric USA is improving performance and ultimately lowering the total cost of deploying smart packaging machines.

The key benefits of the Pak/iQ suite of products were on full display when Mitsubishi Electric USA aided T-ROC Equipment—a Kansas City-based box machine manufacturer—solve a critical pain point earlier this year. T-ROC Equipment, recognized as the organization that built the first-ever automated box making machine in 1995, was struggling to help its customers adjust to the new commercial distribution model of eCommerce in which shipping costs are determined based on package size and weight. After all, fitting a tiny Bluetooth headset to a medium-sized box wasn’t good business for anyone but the shipping company.
T-ROC’s customers, most of whom are distributors and retailers, were desperate to optimize box size to accordingly reduce their shipping costs. T-ROC needed to find an easy-to-use and automated way of measuring the items to be boxed, to load the appropriate dimensions into the board feeder and box maker.

Mitsubishi Electric USA stepped in and created a new automated box sizer by utilizing an array of its patented solutions, namely iQ-F Series PLC, MR-J4 Servos, GT27 HMI, and MES Interface. To create a box or inner packaging using the new solution, TOC’s operators are required to select an icon that represents a box blank style. Items to be packed are set upon a sizing table and scanned with a mini array scanner which feeds an iQ-F series PLC capable of highspeed calculations. Thereafter, the HMI solution leads the operator step-by-step, through the entire cycle of choosing dimensions, quantity, and tabs for every desired style. For example, longer containers for extrusions, folders for books, dividers, or pads, and standard boxes for other items. After selecting the box type, the touch interface (MES) automatically prompts the user to start feeding sheets of material. Amazingly, since the excess board trimmed during production can be reused to make additional boxes, T-ROC has little wastage at its packaging facility.

Thanks to the new automated box sizer, boxes can be sized without manual guesswork, resulting in less wasted material. Most importantly, shipping cost analysis based on box size, weight, and delivery time is allowing T-ROC save a significant amount in shipping costs. “The Mitsubishi iQ-F PLC was the exact fit for our control needs on the Automated Box Sizer and helped us meet our customer’s needs within their budget,” says Ron Cowell, CEO of T-ROC.

Empowering Disabled Youth with Innovations

As part of its philanthropic endeavors, Mitsubishi Electric USA has founded the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). MEAF works to drive changes for the betterment of society by investing in innovative strategies to empower youth with disabilities to lead productive lives. MEAF actively provides opportunities for practical work experiences for youth with disabilities. Some of its recent grants include workforce mentoring, internships, workforce readiness, and careers in science and technologies. As part of its relationship with Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) which spans over two decades, Mitsubishi Electric USA employees partake in Disability Mentoring Days and internship programs at company locations across the country. MEAF has invested more than $1.6Mn in national mentoring and internship initiatives.

Over the past decade, MEAF has invested $3.6Mn in 60 community organizations which leveraged an additional $7.4Mn to develop models and best practices for inclusion. This investment directly served 120,000 youth, trained 12,000 adult leaders, and has the potential to impact 12 million young people. For the past six years, Mitsubishi Electric USA has been hosting the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, an official event on the PGA Tour Champions circuit, with the intention to raise funds for various charities across the country. Last year, the sixth edition of the golf tournament raised a total of $231,000 for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Special Needs Schools of Gwinnett and other charities. “We are honored to support these charities through the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. There are so many people to thank for helping us put on this tremendous tournament, but we are especially thankful to our generous corporate sponsors whose participation allows us to give back to this community,”

Driving ahead, Mitsubishi Electric USA will continue to develop cutting-edge automotive and robotic technologies and drive innovations across a wide spectrum of industries.

Company
Mitsubishi Electric USA

Headquarters
Cypress, CA

Management
Takeshi Sugiyama, President & CEO

Description
Mitsubishi Electric USA has been a pioneer in manufacturing state-of-the-art cooling and heating products, elevators and escalators, data wall cubes, LCD digital signage monitors, industrial printers, professional photo printers, contact image sensors (CIS), and semiconductor devices. The company is now entering a new phase in its evolution, courtesy a brand new Space & Sensing Systems division at its Cypress, CA headquarters. Earlier this year, it announced that the new division will manufacture satellite onboard equipment, including solar array panels, lithium-ion batteries, and RF equipment