When an increasing number of major Japanese companies began to set up shop in Europe in the 1970s, Omron also followed suit – more or less in the wake of several of its most important customers. The manufacturer of electronics selected the Netherlands for its European head office, and today the production branch and distribution centre in Den Bosch in Brabant are operating on a continental scale.
Omron develops and manufactures an incredibly wide array of sensor-based and mechanical operating systems. The Japanese company, founded in 1933, is an international player in the field of industrial automation and supplies highly advanced technological products to the electronics and automotive industries as well as to the medical sector, amongst others. The company employs over 35,000 people around the world and had a turnover of five billion euros in 2008. With 200 branches around the world, the company has a presence in almost every European country. The management of Omron's three European production and R&D centres can be found in the Brabant capital, Den Bosch. The branch here not only houses one of those production centres, it is also responsible for marketing on the continent and it is the European distribution centre. "We've grown to become Omron's European keystone," says manager Hugo Sintnicolaas.
Omron opened its Den Bosch branch in 1990. "It was initially solely a production company," Sintnicolaas recalls. "The choice of Brabant was more or less a given, as we had heard excellent reports about the region from other Japanese companies. The presence of other electronics companies and the proximity of Philips and its R&D operations also contributed to the decision. And last but certainly not least, the international orientation of Brabant was an important factor for Omron. That's a factor that we still profit from today. Our engineers in Den Bosch are part of an international society, making our communication with Japan very smooth."
Brabant gains in eminence
The latter holds equally true for contact with the research & development centres across Europe, of which the Omron branch in Den Bosch is one. "Ever since our own R&D centre was set up a few years ago, the added value of the Brabant location has grown enormously," says Sintnicolaas. "We are now mostly concentrating on the development and manufacture of our own products." Out of around 250 Omron employees in the provincial capital, some 30 are engaged in R&D. The European management in Den Bosch was also given shape thanks to the creation of the European distribution centre. "Brabant was again the logical choice with regard to that. The Netherlands is in the elite in Europe anyway in terms of logistics, and Brabant is well-located with regard to the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol airport, and we have rapid access to the European network of highways from here." Omron previously owned smaller distribution centres in Western and Eastern Europe, but has now largely concentrated its logistical operations in Den Bosch.
‘At work for a better life, a better world for all' is Omron's company philosophy, and it had already been Kazuma Tateisi's motto before he even established the company. "Aside from our high-quality products, that mission statement is also expressed through the company's social involvement," Sintnicolaas explains. "You can see it in our agenda for sustainability, in our collaboration with educational institutes and knowledge centres, in our relationships with government bodies and with BOM Foreign Investments and in our connection with the city in which we are located. Omron might be a Japanese company but here, in this place, we primarily feel as if we are a company that is comprehensively part of Brabant and Den Bosch."