Mitsubishi Electric Faked Safety and Quality Control Tests for Decades
Mitsubishi Electric, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large-scale electrical and HVAC systems has admitted to fraudulently conducting quality assurance tests on its transformers—for decades.
Thousands of such improperly tested transformers were then shipped both within Japan and overseas.
And it turns out, this isn’t the first time Mitsubishi has been caught cheating either.
Mitsubishi Electric admits to falsifying safety test data
Tokyo-based electronics giant, Mitsubishi Electric has revealed flaws in its quality assurance (QA) testing procedures, including falsifying numbers in the test reports for transformers.
With its $34 billion revenue and 138,000 employees worldwide, Mitsubishi Electric is a leader in producing automotive equipment, air conditioning systems, heavy-duty transformers, and semiconductors.
In a series of statements released this April, the company announced the results of an investigation led by an external committee brought on board in July 2021 to dive deeper into quality control malpractices at Mitsubishi Electric.
“Several inspections of transformers rated 22KV 2MVA or above manufactured at Mitsubishi Electric’s Transmission & Distribution Systems Center in Ako, Hyogo Prefecture, did not fully comply with customer-requested testing standards that required compliance with the Japan Electrotechnical Committee (JEC), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards,” reveal the committee’s findings.
In some cases, the committee confirmed, improper statements had been entered in inspection reports. Additionally, several unit designs deviated from what had been proposed within internal design guidelines or agreed upon with customers.
For example, in “Temperature Rise Tests,” the 22kV 2MVA transformer units very well exceeded the maximum temperature specified by the regulatory bodies, but Mitsubishi Electric’s test reports fraudulently portrayed that the units posed no overheating risk.
Similarly, dielectric tests—that measure an equipment’s ability to withstand high voltages (e.g. during surge events and spikes), were conducted at voltages lower than what is required by various industry standards.
A total of 8,363 Mitsubishi Electric transformers rated 22kV 2MVA or above have been shipped to customers between 1982 and March 2022. Of these, 3,384—a little over 40%, had been inadequately tested.
Out of these improperly tested units, 1,589 were delivered within Japan and 1,795 overseas.
Echoes of the past
It turns out not much has changed at the Mitsubishi group of companies, which have had a history of dishonest quality control practices.
Prior to that, in July, the company’s then-President and CEO Takeshi Sugiyama also quit over “three decades of systematic deceit,” a period during which the electronics manufacturer faked inspection reports for air conditioners and brake compressors installed on trains.
In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors—a sister company to Mitsubishi Electric, came under fire for inaccurate fuel-economy test reports leading to resignations.
In 2000, Mitsubishi admitted to a 30-year cover-up of auto defects and said it would recall a million cars.
Although originally set to conclude this April, the present investigation into all of Mitsubishi Electric’s 22 facilities producing transformers is still ongoing with no date set for completion.
An updated report from the committee investigators is expected to follow this month. The company has outlined a set of “robust policies” to prevent such mishaps from recurring.