Environment – Engineers' Perspectives
Concurrent engineering that integrates development and manufacturing is one ideal pursued by Mitsubishi Electric. This section presents the comments of the engineers who put concurrent engineering into practice to develop minimo, the ultimate fan motor.
Building the best-ever production line for fan motors
Over the past 20 years, the Nakatsugawa Works has developed many exceptional fan motors, thanks to across-the-board automation. We have always engaged in concurrent engineering, which involves all divisions—sales, fan motor design, production technology and facility development—working to tackle challenges.
When I was assigned to lead this project, I wanted to pass on the Nakatsugawa DNA to a younger generation. Moreover, I wanted to keep Japanese manufacturing alive. The goals of this project were to develop the "ultimate fan motor" while at the same time creating the best-ever production line for fan motors. I was confident that if we maximized the power of our concurrent engineering we would build the best production line, not only in terms of quality but also delivery times, cost and environmental factors.
Passing on concurrent engineering to the next generation
We established the Creation Lab with a great view of the production floor as a place where team members could exchange ideas. This lab was created to put concurrent engineering into practice. The team members met for discussions almost daily, which resulted in innovations in motor design and manufacturing. Using this lab, we created minimo, but the biggest achievement for me was passing down the Nakatsugawa DNA to the younger generation.
The Creation Lab concept is now not only at the production site, but at the Manufacturing Engineering Center. The lab will continue to be used for projects such as the development of elemental technologies.
I expect our younger employees to practice concurrent engineering and advance product development and manufacturing in a way that contributes to society and the environment.
Objectives achieved without compromises
On this project, I was most pleased that we made exactly what we intended to make—minimo. Normally in the development process, compromises are dictated by circumstances faced by each division, but on this project, all team members—fan motor design, manufacturing technology and facility development—did not compromise.
By not compromising, we achieved the project's objectives. Also, as team members with different specialties discussed issues in the Creation Lab they shared a common awareness of the goal. They developed minimo by working together at the Iida Factory. Design leaders tend to focus solely on product performance, but through this experience I learned that developing products that benefit society is done best with our approach.
In future projects, I plan to engage in development from a wide range of viewpoints, including those from the production floor and market identified by the sales team, and develop products with less environmental impact.
Think of products from design and manufacturing perspectives
I had been in the Motor Design Division for many years, but when this project started I was transferred to the Production Technology Department and put in charge of developing manufacturing-related technologies. I learned many things when I considered the product from the vantage point of manufacturing technology and asked the question: What does a motor need? I also deepened my awareness of the connection between products and the environment, something I did not give extensive thought to before.
I also came away with an appreciation for the effectiveness of people with different specialties forming a team and working to solve problems while exchanging ideas and opinions. As a result of constant discussions with other team members and pursing the best product and manufacturing process, I now realize that Nakatsugawa's automated lines are the realization of concurrent engineering. This experience is not easily gained, even when desired. I am grateful for this valuable experience and hope to spread what I have learned throughout the Company and help raise the global competitiveness of Nakatsugawa Works.
I would like to spread the DNA of motor development throughout the Company
When Project Leader Haruo Kinoshita came to the Manufacturing Engineering Center in Amagasaki, he expressed his conviction that we must build an exceptional production line on par with overseas production to keep Japanese manufacturing alive. I empathized with his conviction and remember feeling that we must succeed.
The Nakatsugawa Works and the Manufacturing Engineering Center have made motors for 20 years. Our predecessors focused on ease of winding and proposed a structure with a split core, which made it possible to raise motor performance and automate its production. This led to the birth of Mitsubishi Electric's Poki-Poki motor. This DNA was passed on to the younger team members on this project, and after discussions that included engineers from other production sites, a one-of-a-kind motor and production line were created.
This basic integration of design and manufacturing is essential not only to producing exceptional products but also to protecting to the environment. The Manufacturing Engineering Center intends to stay true to this DNA and work with all motor team members to make Mitsubishi Electric the world's No.1 motor manufacturer.