The Switch becomes Yaskawa’s Environmental Energy Division

Multimillion-euro investment in R&D and drive train testing

As part of the long-term strategy of Yaskawa Corporation, The Switch will become Yaskawa European’s Environmental Energy Division to take care of business for wind, marine and turbo/industry applications. This new division will form a network of R&D talent from all The Switch sites to stay at the forefront in innovating and developing advanced electrical drive trains for these businesses. To support this goal, Yaskawa Corporation is making a multimillion-euro investment to strengthen the company’s R&D capabilities and in new equipment at The Switch factory in Lappeenranta, Finland, which will serve as a test center for advanced drive trains up to 15 MW.

The new multimillion-euro investment project is a sign of Yaskawa Corporation’s commitment to take a leading position in environmentally sustainable energy through The Switch, which will be the Environmental Energy Division.

The vital brain power behind the new Environmental Energy Division will come from creating a network of R&D talent within all the existing sites of The Switch in Lappeenranta, Vaasa and Helsinki, Finland, as well as Norway, China and Japan. This will ensure that the company has the necessary talent to develop the products and platforms needed to reach the long-term goals of the corporation.

The Switch will have full responsibility for developing its converter, power module and machine products according to its mid-term plan. To do this, the company needs to strengthen its R&D capabilities to develop new products according to the evolving market demands in its chosen businesses in wind, marine and turbo/industry applications. The new testing center will be one of the few in the world that can test advanced electrical drive trains up to 15 MW.

With 100 units delivered in serial production, The Switch is now a sole supplier of 9.5 MW PMGs for the Danish leader in the offshore wind industry.

Viable partner with sufficient capabilities

“For our customers, this investment strengthens the fact that we are a viable partner with sufficient capabilities to invest in the future,” Jukka-Pekka Mäkinen, President and CEO of The Switch, emphasizes. “To strongly focus on the development of our products, we need to have the resources and facilities to do so. This significant investment now provides us with the financial support needed to step up to the challenge.”

In wind – The trend in the offshore wind business is pushing towards increasing powers. The Switch is already close to this milestone, but solutions to reach higher require new designs and considerable testing. The new center will play a pivotal role in allowing the company to reach these powers. Currently, The Switch assembles, tests and delivers 9.5 MW permanent magnet generators in volumes for one of the world’s leading offshore wind turbine manufacturers. Over 100 units have been delivered in serial production for this manufacturer to date, and the 200-unit delivery mark will be reached already in 2018. The Switch’s full-power converters have also added more than 10 GW of installed wind power capacity.

In marine – The new center in Lappeenranta will take its role in a chain of other high-power drive train test centers that include state-of-the-art facilities in Vaasa and Stord, Norway. During the past 10 years, The Switch has delivered over 1,000 Power Drives to hundreds of vessels now operating around the world. The company has also delivered 35 permanent magnet shaft generators to next-generation ships that are future-proofing their operations. Now the latest investment provides The Switch with the capability to test high-power machines, which is essential to execute the projects the company has planned with customers.

In turbo – The Switch current applications reach speeds of up to 15,000 rpm with power ranging from 500 kW to 12 MW. Today, the company is one of the few that can supply industrial solid rotor motor technology in volumes, such as our ongoing deliveries for paper machine vacuum systems running at over 10,000 rpm.

The Switch has received orders for 35 permanent magnet shaft generators through WE Tech, which cut costs when powering onboard electric networks.

The Switch as part of Yaskawa Europe

As of March 1, 2018, The Switch belongs to the Yaskawa EU (YEU) organization and will head up its Environmental Energy Division as of the same date. This will be the third official division within YEU – alongside Drives Motion Control and Robotics.

The Switch’s role in heading the Environmental Energy Division will be to take care of the business in its selected areas of wind, marine and turbo/industry applications with its own sales force and in closer cooperation with Yaskawa’s System Engineering Division in Japan. In addition, The Switch will strengthen its direct sales force in Europe.

“This new role is an important signal from our owner that we have earned the trust to further explore opportunities in the rapidly maturing business of environmental energy,” says Mäkinen. “We now have a solid platform from which to exploit the potential in our business and kick off our journey as the Environmental Energy Division. And it will undoubtedly create more opportunities for Yaskawa to become an undisputed leader in this growing business area.”

“With our new responsibilities,” he continues, “we’re ready to head up the mission within Yaskawa to help make the BIG switch to environmental energy – with the choice to consume less energy as well as to produce energy in the most sustainable manner.”

The Switch has delivered over 1,000 rugged Power Drives for the past 10 years to hundreds of vessels operating around the world.