Yaskawa commissions extensive power electronics study from LUT

LUT and The Switch, which is part of the Yaskawa Electric Corporation, have agreed that LUT will conduct a commissioned study developing next-generation power electronics technology. The economic value of this 1.5-year project is the highest for a commissioned study in LUT's history.

The Lappeenranta-based The Switch has since 2014 been a part of the Yaskawa Electric Corporation, which has its head office in Kitakyushu, Japan. Yaskawa Electric is a world-leading manufacturer of actuator, industrial automation and robotics products.

The Switch's products compose a significant part of Yaskawa's energy production technologies and are used for instance in wind power generators. The Switch also manufactures generators for the shipping industry and high-speed electric drives.

This is the first study funded by the Yaskawa head office in Japan - Panu Kurronen, The Switch

The commissioned research project will focus on basic power electronics research that serves all of The Switch's product families. The research is also partly funded by Business Finland. Panu Kurronen, CTO of The Switch, states that the study is a natural continuation of long-standing cooperation with LUT, where personal connections and close geographic proximity improve the success rate.

"The Switch and LUT have gone a long way together, but this is the first study funded by the head office in Japan. This increases Yaskawa's investments in product development in Finland considerably," elaborates Kurronen.

"We expect the first commercialisable results by early 2020."

Power electronics cluster that creates technologies, experts and jobs

Olli Pyrhönen, Professor of Electrical Engineering and head of the project, says that roughly ten LUT researchers will be involved in the study. In addition to developing new technology, this extensive collaborative effort will be advantageous to the corporate partner in terms of recruitment opportunities.

"Strengthening electrical engineering expertise in the region has been our goal for the past 20 years. In addition to the development of technology, we are in constant dialogue with the industry concerning their need for experts. This research project will improve our understanding of the operating culture in the industry and facilitate our experts' transition to industry positions," explains Pyrhönen.

Lappeenranta has become an international cluster of expertise, and LUT supports this growth - Olli Pyrhönen, LUT

"Investments by significant commercial operators such as Yaskawa and a research university enable taking advantage of the opportunities brought on by the energy revolution. In recent years, Lappeenranta has become an international cluster of expertise in electric drives and power electronics, and LUT supports this growth."

Additional information:
Olli Pyrhönen, Professor, LUT School of Energy Systems, olli.pyrhonen@lut.fi, +358 40 5166411
Panu Kurronen, CTO, The Switch,  panu.kurronen@theswitch.com, +358 40 8080408