Mitsubishi Electric expands and celebrates 20 years in Livingston
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is marking 20 years of air conditioning manufacturing in Scotland and looking to the future with the opening of a new world-class research and development facility.
Today’s launch of two highly instrumented test houses, built on site next to the factory, follows the recent relocation to Scotland of the UK Branch of the Mitsubishi Electric R&D Centre Europe (MERCE), and is part of a longer term plan for the creation of a centre of design excellence outside Japan.
With its R&D, design and manufacturing teams operating together at the same location, the Scottish site is unique within Mitsubishi Electric globally and is now better placed to respond to the demands of the European market. In addition, the company is committed to investing £20 million in its Scottish base to continue its expansion and development of new products in Scotland.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing said: “It is great news for Scotland that Mitsubishi Electric has placed a world class R&D centre here in Livingston. Mitsubishi Electric Air-Conditioning Europe (M-ACE) at Livingston makes a considerable contribution to the Scottish economy and we welcome their continued commitment to manufacturing here.
“The Scottish Government strongly supports the introduction of renewable heat technologies as they can make a huge contribution to our national emission reduction targets. The Scottish Government’s target of 100% of electricity demand to be met from renewables by 2020 makes Scotland an ideal proving ground for advanced renewable energy technologies.”
As part of its global growth strategy, Mitsubishi Electric is increasingly shifting production from Japan to key areas throughout the world. The company employs 450 people in Scotland and has been producing air conditioning units from its Livingston base since 1993. In recent years it has evolved its product range to include renewable heating products as it strives to lead the way in sustainable innovations.
Mr Hiroyuki Umemura, Executive Officer and Group President of Living Environment & Digital Media Equipment Group, says: “Sustainability is one of the most important issues for our company. We aim to be industry leaders in the production of environmentally friendly, high efficiency, high quality products and services to our customers. In order to achieve this, our site in Livingston will play a very important role as a supply base in Europe for air conditioning and renewable energy heating products and this 20th anniversary is an important milestone.”
A world leader in air conditioning systems for residential, commercial and industrial use, the primary markets for Mitsubishi Electric products manufactured in Scotland are continental Europe, Scandinavia, Middle East and southern Africa. The new range of renewable air to water heat pumps will give increased opportunities for the company to tap in to the domestic heating sector in these markets as well.
Dr Kazuhiko Tsutsumi, Executive Officer and Group President of Corporate Research & Development Group, added: “The ability for close co-operation between research and manufacturing will speed up the product development cycle in Scotland. We are also engaged with key UK and European universities, including Heriot-Watt and Cambridge, and we anticipate that Scotland’s excellent universities will provide a highly educated pool of talent that we hope to attract to support our future expansion.”
Embedded in the local community, Mitsubishi Electric maintains strong links with West Lothian College through its Engineering Apprentice Training programme and has partnered with nearby Heriot-Watt University, which boasts world class expertise in the area of building thermal comfort and low carbon homes.
The new R&D facility will be known as the MERCE House-type HVACS Evaluation Facility and consists of two custom-built three bedroom detached houses, along with a bespoke experimental control room. Each house is modified by the installation of a vast array of sensors, both for measuring the detailed environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) and for in depth monitoring of the operation of the heating systems.
Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International, said:
“Renewable energy will play a central role in Europe’s move to a low carbon economy through by promoting R&D and technological innovation in design and manufacturing from its Scottish base, Mitsubishi Electric is well placed to be a leading contributor to the low carbon agenda.
We’ve been working closely with Mitsubishi Electric - both at the corporate level through our office in Japan, as well as locally through our teams on the ground in Scotland - as their business has developed at the Livingston site and we look forward to working in partnership with them for many years to come”
About Mitsubishi Electric:
- Mitsubishi Electric is a world leader in air conditioning systems for residential, commercial and industrial use.
- The Mitsubishi Electric Air-Conditioning Systems Europe (M-ACE) factory was established in Livingston in 1993. It produces air conditioning systems and air to water heat pump systems. In the renewable heating area, heat pump systems are capturing attention as a decisive catalyst in efforts to conserve energy.
- MERCE, the European arm of the Corporate Research & Development Group of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, performs product-focused research in the area of Energy & Environment, specifically targeted at advances in air source heat pump renewable energy heating systems. It relocated to Livingston from the south of England at the close of 2011.
- Co-location of the R&D and production functions is expected to speed up the product development cycle, benefiting both company performance and achievement of environmental targets.
- Mitsubishi Electric has had a presence in Scotland since 1979, first in VCR and TV production, before opening its air conditioning plant.
MERCE House-type HVACS Evaluation Facility:
- The new R&D facility consists of two custom-built three bedroom detached houses, along with a bespoke experimental control room. Each house is modified by the installation of a vast array of sensors, both for measuring the detailed environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) and for in depth monitoring of the operation of the heating systems. The total sensor suite encompasses approximately 1400 measurement locations across the two houses, the majority of which are for creating a complete record of the thermal behaviour within the buildings.
- The presence of two houses allows for the direct comparison of different heating systems, examination of the effect of different control protocols and units, as well as ensuring that results obtained are reliable, due to the presence of a reference building and an experimental building. For instance, incumbent heating systems, such as gas boilers, can be tested against existing heat pumps, while new items under development can also be compared to current heat pump units.