„Remain the flexibility“

Text/Interview: Wolfgang Kräußlich, senior chief editor

 

VIPA mainly made its name through the portfolio of Siemens compatible programmable logic controllers. The company has been part of the Yaskawa group since 2012. ke NEXT came to Herzogenaurach and asked what has happened since then.

VIPA has been part of a Japanese major company for four years. Which part does VIPA play within this concern?

Yaskawa already previously offered control technology in the nineties. Later, this completely ended as the company concentrated on drive technology and robotics. Today it is more important to offer the customer a complete solution.  This means, VIPA is the part which provides the PLC technology for the portfolio – this is an important task. Besides this we are an important technology provider in many areas. We are strong in ASIC design, and control all European fieldbuses that will also be integrated directly in the Yaskawa portfolio. The third aspect is that VIPA has good brand awareness in Germany and Europe. Yaskawa on the other hand only started to present itself on the European market a few years ago. For this reason we want to increase the brand awareness of Yaskawa on the German market for mechanical engineering.

Was it difficult to integrate into the environment of a big concern?

Well, for us as a typical medium-sized enterprise new requirements came our way with regards to reporting. The subject of compliance is very important and decision-making processes are different. This mainly affected the management, whereas the daily operating staff was not aware of the changes. A very positive fact is that Yaskawa and many Japanese entrepreneurs have a high technical affinity and respect for technical performance.  And you notice that.

„We are leaving the Siemens compatible path and are developing our own innovations right up to a new software suite. “

How does this look in the real life?

We have a lot of contact with Japan. The ASIC development teams both there and over here at our subsidiary Profichip are working very closely together. All new ASICs are developed for the whole concern and are implemented in all products, no matter whether it is a drive product, a robot, or a controller. We have weekly telephone conferences and twice a year there is a Global Development Meeting where we talk about future technologies.

What was the biggest surprise during the fusion process and what was your biggest success?

Surprising for us was the announcement that Yaskawa wants to have the dynamic and flexibility of a medium-sized company. Even more surprising was that this was really implemented. A second matter which was very surprising for me was that all employees remained on board. Almost nobody left the company which was very unusual as most of them were working for VIPA because they did not want to work for a big concern. The biggest success for me is the reputation which we meanwhile have within the company. As far as our area is concerned we are basically the second technology center – and this outside of Japan. This has never been seen before in the almost hundred-year history of Yaskawa. All core technologies had been developed exclusively in Japan. To have this reputation up to the management board is a great success which we have worked hard for.

What will be your most important tasks in the coming twelve months?

We have developed some new products which we are going to launch on the market. Here we are taking different paths. New developments are no longer compatible to Siemens hardware. But the software compatibility will remain unchanged so that the customer can easily change. We will present a small compact controller at the SPS IPC Drives which is also completely independent with regards to design. On this basis there will be a complete product family up to the middle and higher power range. As a second important project we have developed our own software suite.  It will be intuitive to use and we have added very interesting options for diagnosis and debugging. A further feature is that the existing Step7 code can still be used. And finally, we are changing our branding and logo. VIPA becomes Yaskawa Vipa Controls and green becomes blue. This will also be presented on the SPS IPC Drives. There is a lot to do as you can see.