CSR – Providing Easy-to-Use Products
The Mitsubishi Electric Group engages in universal design under the principle of "creating user-friendly products and comfortable living environments that benefit as many people as possible." To achieve user-friendliness and comfortable living in the true sense of the words, we are committed to providing products and living environments that offer a high level of satisfaction to as many people as possible.
Universal Design that Provides Ease of Use
Universal Design is an approach that aims to create designs that can be used easily by as many people as possible. Mitsubishi Electric evaluates its products from many perspectives, considering whether they are simple and easy to understand, have easy-to-recognize displays and layouts, have been given sufficient ergonomic consideration in terms of comfortable posture and minimal physical load, and are safe and convenient. In this way, we strive to manufacture products that are easy to use and result in more comfortable lifestyles.
Imagining use by various people, we have continuously applied universal design and allowed it to evolve in the production of home appliances like air conditioners and televisions as well as products used by the general public, such as elevators. The "Uni & Eco" business strategy was introduced for home appliance products in fiscal 2005. In fiscal 2011, targeting expansion of the market to include elderly users in their 70s, we developed a series equipped with the "RakuRaku Assist" function."RakuRaku Assist" incorporates the latest convenience functions in a way that is fun and easy to use. A continuation of this is the "Smart Quality" initiative launched in fiscal 2013. Additionally, for elevators, we are developing voice-activated operation and other functions for visually impaired users and users in wheelchairs.
The need for universal design has also grown in the industrial sector, a field traditionally characterized by professional workers who handle equipment. The working environment in this field has begun to change, with an increase in the number of older workers, foreign workers, and nonskilled laborers. In response to this situation, Mitsubishi Electric widely applies universal design principles to its industrial products, including factory automation (FA) equipment and electric power equipment, as well as to the installation and maintenance of such products on the shop floor.
In fiscal 2017, Mitsubishi Electric won two awards from the IAUD Awards 2016, organized by the International Association for Universal Design. The "Voice-activated drawing function that displays spoken words where a finger is traced onscreen" won a Silver Award in the category of Communication Design, and "Particle beam therapy treatment rooms that can be safely and comfortably used by both patients and operators" won a Silver Award in the category of Health Care & Welfare Design. In addition to these, Mitsubishi Electric received awards for a total of 7 products, including the "Raku Raku rice cooker application: Smartphone application for Mitsubishi Electric rice cookers with voice control" and "Creating audio Raku Raku Quick Guides for home appliances."
In fiscal 2018 as well, we will continue to sensibly and ingeniously apply universal design in the creation of products throughout our wide-ranging business domain.
Universal Design Examples to Date
Universal Design Guidelines for Widespread Usability
To promote greater usability of our products by all users, including children, the elderly, and people with physical disabilities, we formulated guidelines grounded in surveys and research on changes that occur to human characteristics with age. The guidelines give consideration to these changes mainly in terms of the following three perspectives.
Structure of the Universal Design Guidelines
- Recognition: consideration for ease of understanding
- Identification: consideration for ease of reading and/or hearing
- Physical use: consideration for comfortable posture and minimum physical load
"RakuRaku-IH" Cooking Heater (home appliance equipped with RakuRaku Assist)
This Mitsubishi Electric product in Japan incorporates features such as large characters, visual and aural notification, and easy maintenance, which are three concepts of "revolutionary ease of use" based on Universal Design Guidelines.
"RakuRaku-IH" Induction Heating Cooking heater CS-G20AKS
Large characters & numerical indicators of steps for use
- Characters are approximately 1.8* times the size of our conventional system.
(Compared with Mitsubishi Electric's conventional model G38MS)
- Can be operated simply by pressing buttons in order of numbers displayed.
Safety sensor & audio support
- Built-in sensor checks for people in vicinity.
- Offers audio support for ease of operation.
MELSEC L-Series Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) designed for use even by less-experienced workers
Mitsubishi Electric's MELSEC L-Series general-purpose PLCs function as factory computers, and deliver the following three advantages to meet the needs of a wide variety of users, by delivering both the productivity improvements demanded by veteran workers and also the ease of use needed by less-experienced laborers.
- The terminal arrangement is printed to display wiring groups, for intuitive function display.
- The unit employs UD fonts, with large character display that is well contrasted from the background color, to prevent wiring errors.
- Text is displayed in English/Japanese on the LCD screen, making it easy for even less-experienced workers to deal with on-site trouble.
"UD-Checker" Original System for Universal Design Evaluation
UD-Checker is a tool that can be used by both industrial designers and engineers to evaluate for universal design qualities. This tool shows four quantitative measures of universal design, indicating specific design aspects for development and improving the efficiency of product development.
The UD-Checker is used on a wide variety of Mitsubishi Electric products from home appliances and public equipment to industrial equipment.
VOICE (In charge of universal design)
Observe the user, and think from their standpoint. This is what we abide by the most when developing products from the standpoint of universal design. We design products by incorporating usability evaluations and other scientific approaches while listening to people who will actually use the products. Each user is different, and the situations they use our products in, along with their intended purposes, differ from user to user. Based on our commitment to deliver usability suited to every individual, we aim to spread that usability to as many people as possible. We will continue to devote our efforts to the development of universal design, with hopes that our products also deliver happiness to large numbers of people.
Creating Easy-to-Understand Instruction Manuals
Under a campaign to provide first-rate instruction manuals, the Mitsubishi Electric Group is directing its efforts to creating easy-to-read and easy-to-understand instruction manuals to ensure the safe and comfortable use of our products. Forming the basis of this effort is Mitsubishi Electric's original "Guidelines for the creation of instruction manuals for home appliances—Instructions." To raise the quality level of instruction manuals, this handbook is distributed to all affiliates in Japan who handle home appliances.
Example Instruction manual: Mitsubishi Electric Kirigamine FL Series room air conditioners
Our instruction manual for Mitsubishi Electric room air conditioners won the grand prize in the General Paper Manual Category of the Japan Manual Contest 2016, sponsored by the Japan Technical Communicators Association.
The Quick Guide (Basic Operations) was recognized for its large remote-control illustrations that provide an at-a-glance understanding of which buttons to push, as well as large font sizes and ample margins that make explanations extremely easy to understand.