A pressing need for automation


Mitsubishi Electric and system integrator AR Controls have provided a winning steel sheet press automation solution to Unipres, to increase uptime, productivity, transparency and energy efficiency.

At its facility in Sunderland, the automotive tier 1 supplier Unipres produces around 560 tonnes of steel press-formed automotive components for global manufacturers, such as Nissan and Honda. In order to keep pace with production demands, the company needed to upgrade its factory automation, especially the motion control system for its multi-axis transfer press.

Unipres turned to Mitsubishi Electric and local factory automation integration company AR Controls to recommend a viable upgrade solution.


The motion control system for Unipres’s transfer press combines Mitsubishi Electric’s PLCs, servos and HMIs. To control the multi-axis operations of the transfer press in its de-stacking, pressing and transfer activities, three Q series PLCs were selected. These offer high speed and accuracy as well as the ability to handle large volumes of data. The controllers are networked together as well as with MR-J4-DU servos to regulate the process. Each PLC is also linked to its own GOT 2000 HMI to deliver visibility and diagnostic tools.

In addition, the project features Mitsubishi Electric’s MR-CV power regeneration converter unit. This is connected to the servos to recover braking energy from the servo axis and feed it to the mains supply. This innovative solution replaces the brake resistors that were previously in use.


  • Transfer press operations are now completely reliable and uptime has skyrocketed.
  • Process speed increased from 21 to 26 cycles per minute, greatly improving productivity and production capacity.
  • Mitsubishi Electric’s HMIs provide key diagnostic tools to operators so they can address issues quickly and efficiently if they arise.
  • The HMIs offer a convenient way to change process parameters and support future modifications and expansions.
  • The power regeneration converter unit greatly increases the energy efficiency of the transfer press system.
  • The power regeneration converter unit uses fewer components. As a result, Unipres can rely on a system with lower maintenance requirements.
  • Unipres could optimise its manufacturing footprint, with the new control panel

“Sometimes we faced gaps or inconsistent details about the movement of each axis. For example, the existing documentation on press feed speed was not accurate enough. We were able to address this issue by making the system flexible in controlling the speed while ensuring that this would not have any impact on the mechanical components of the transfer press.”

Ian Patterson, Key Account Manager
Mitsubishi Electric

“We are delighted with the solution provided by Mitsubishi Electric and AR Controls. So much so that we are talking to the same team about upgrades on the control systems for two other transfer presses.”

Paul Armitage, Deputy General Manager – Maintenance

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