Don’t be surprised if visiting the Mitsubishi Electric factory in Livingston, Scotland, when the local workforce talks of ‘Kaizen’.
A Japanese term, it’s a fundamental principle of manufacturing for the company and means continuous improvement.
And that’s what the Livingston factory has successfully achieved as it celebrates its 30th anniversary.
We can now provide a heat pump for every home,
Words into action
A prime example of Kaizen manufacturing techniques and innovation is the latest Ecodan air source heat pump, the R290.
In fact, the five-millionth product coming off the assembly line after 30 years of manufacturing at the Livingston factory was the Ecodan R290.
As we demand of ourselves a greater stretch to reach net zero, this newest Ecodan uses a natural refrigerant, R290, which has minimal environmental impact with a global warming potential (GWP) of 3.
In addition to its low GWP, the R290 has flow temperatures of up to 75°C – this brings unbeatable benefits for home heating making it ideal for new build or retrofit properties.
The importance of this is emphasised by Russell Dean, Residential Product Group Director at Mitsubishi Electric: “We must decarbonise our building stock now, and changing the way we heat our homes will play a critical role in how this is achieved. The production of the Ecodan R290 means we can now provide a heat pump for every home, helping to drive heat pump adoption across the UK and Europe.”
On 6 July, the Livingston factory marked its 30th anniversary.
Guests from government, Scottish Enterprise, industry, and housing providers, including Patrick Harvie MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston, Tadashi Fujiwara, the Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh, were given a tour of the advanced manufacturing facility and the opportunity to speak to employees, along with Shunji Kurita, President & CEO Mitsubishi Electric Europe.
The factory, with Mitsubishi Electric investment and government support, has expanded and staff numbers have increased significantly over those years, now numbering more than 1,800 employees.
Thirty staff members have been working at the Livingston factory for all those 30 years – that’s a loyal commitment the company is immensely proud of.
Largest UK manufacturer
Over that long period, which has seen the appearance and proliferation of the world wide web and more recently the use of artificial intelligence, the world has become increasingly aware of the importance of countering climate change; and the Livingston factory has diversified from first producing air conditioning units to now being the largest producer of air source heat pumps in the UK.
“The Livingston factory has been manufacturing heat pumps since 2009,” said Rodney Ayre, Senior Department Manager at the Livingston factory.
“Our anniversary offers an important opportunity to mark its invaluable contribution to the green economy. By supporting the manufacturing and installation of heat pumps, the factory plays a vital role in the transition to low carbon heating across the UK and Europe.”
Into the future
Located next to the Livingston factory are two, at first glance, ordinary looking houses.
But these houses were built as models for efficiency evaluation and research.
With Ecodan heat pumps and with more than 800 sensors in each house, temperature, humidity, and consumption are measured.
The investigative and thorough examination work that goes on in these houses helps to continue the design of smarter and more efficient heat pumps.
By combining eco-conscious techniques with its Kaizen approach, Mitsubishi Electric has developed and advanced heat pumps to now manufacture the Ecodan R290, which will be supplied across the UK and Europe.
Achilleas Georgiou, Communications Manager