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Emerson buys Aventics for €527m, to create $1.5bn giant

Emerson is buying Bosch Rexroth’s former pneumatics business, now known as Aventics, for €527m in cash from its current owner, the German-Scandinavian investor, Triton, which acquired it for around €200m in 2013. Emerson says that the deal will create a $1.5bn business, significantly expanding its reach in the $13bn market for smart pneumatics for machine and factory automation applications.

Sales of AGVs and mobile robots will hit $1.5bn this year

Demand for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) used in manufacturing is “exploding”, with global sales set to reach nearly $1.5bn this year, and revenues from AMRs expected to grow by almost 75% during 2018. A new report from Interact Analysis predicts that, within five years, mobile robots will account for a quarter of all robot shipments for manufacturing applications, with sales worth more than $14bn.

All-electric actuators ‘out-perform hydraulics’

A US company has developed a maintenance-free electromechnical linear actuator technology that, it claims, offers higher power densities and better reliability than rollerscrew or hydraulic technologies. Massachusetts-based Rise Robotics says that its Rise Cylinder actuators can replace hydraulic systems of all sizes, resulting in quieter, more efficient, all-electric machines.

Omron-Techman deal will put cobots on mobile platforms

The Japanese automation giant Omron is forming a strategic alliance with Techman Robot, the Taiwanese manufacturer of integrated-vision collaborative robots (cobots), under which Omron will sell Techman’s TM series of cobots globally using a co-branded logo. The two companies will also cooperate to develop a new generation of collaborative robots that will be easier to integrate with Omron’s other factory automation products.

Sensorless vector control comes to MV drives below 200A

Rockwell Automation has enhanced its Allen-Bradley PowerFlex 6000 range of medium-voltage drives by adding sensorless vector control (SVC) for applications up to 200A, as well as introducing new voltage ratings (6.9kV and 11kV) and a standard-efficiency transformer option for the Asia-Pacific market.

Hands-free wearable technology guides plant workers

Honeywell has announced a wearable, hands-free technology that, it says, will allow industrial workers to perform tasks more safely, reliably and efficiently. It uses a head-mounted visual display that responds to voice commands, and shows live data, documents, videos, work procedures, as well as health and safety information.

European network aims to deliver ‘best Brexit’ for industry

Euris, the umbrella group of industrial trade organisations that together represent more than 25% of the UK’s imports and exports, has set up an advisory body to help deliver the best outcome from Brexit for the industrial product supply sector.

Integrating conveyors with smart transport is ‘a game-changer’

Just months after B&R Automation unveiled its AcoposTrak flexible production line transport technology at the SPS IPC Drives show, it has unveiled an enhancement that allows the technology to be integrated with conventional conveyors. The development, announced at the Hannover Fair, allows products to be carried almost entirely by low-cost conveyor belts – except for sections where they need to be handled and processed individually, where the AcoposTrak takes over.

Tiny industrial PC has a built-in UPS

At the recent Hannover Fair, Beckhoff unveiled the latest in its series of tiny industrial PCs – this time with an onboard one-second capacitive UPS (uninterruptible power supply), designed to store data in the event of a power failure.

‘World’s first’ 3D-printed motor can run at high temperatures

German researchers claim to have 3D-printed an entire electric motor for the first time. The researchers, from the Chemnitz University of Technology, demonstrated their machine at last month’s Hannover Fair.

Get ready for your machines to talk and listen to you

Beckhoff has developed a technology similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, that allows automation systems to listen and speak. At the Hannover Fair, it announced a software module, called TwinCat Speech, that will give machines these capabilities, in addition to the existing visual capabilities offered by TwinCat Vision and the “intellectual” capabilities offered by its TwinCat runtime software.

Group will drive the ‘disruptive’ use of 5G in industry

The German electrotechnical trade body ZVEI has set up a working group of companies and organisations to help establish the use of 5G in industrial production and to make the high-speed wireless communications technology “industry-ready”. The 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5G-ACIA) initiative brings together 26 automation and IT organisations, including Beckhoff, Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, Endress+Hauser, Ericsson, Festo, Fraunhofer, Harting, Hirschmann, Huawei, Infineon, Intel, Mitsubishi, Nokia, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Siemens, Trumpf, Vodaphone, Weidmüller and Yokogawa.

SEW-Eurodrive announces its own encoders and gear oil

At the recent Hannover Fair, SEW-Eurodrive announced that had developed and is manufacturing its own high-resolution encoders for use in its motors, and will also offer own-brand gear oils which, it claims, will improve lubrication and reduce wear.

5G demo heralds ‘wireless’ PLCs of the future

At the recent Hannover Fair, the Chinese electronics giant Huawei and Beckhoff Automation demonstrated a 5G technology that could lead to the use of wireless PLCs in the factory of tomorrow. In a proof-of-concept demonstration, the companies showed two PLCs communicating via a prototype 5G wireless network, instead of using cables.

UK manufacturing is twice as big as usually thought

Manufacturing accounts for nearly a quarter of the UK economy and more than 7.4 million jobs depend on it – far more than usually thought – according to new research commissioned by the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA).

Oxlee is Drives & Controls’ new sales director

Damien Oxlee has been appointed director of sales for Drives & Controls magazine, the Drives & Controls Exhibition and associated products. He is taking on the role in addition to his existing position of director of sales for DFA Media’s Plant & Works Engineering Division.

Drives & Controls Show is another record-breaker

The recent Drives & Controls Show, held at the Birmingham NEC, set a new record for visitor attendance. By the time, the three-day exhibition had ended, it and the other events organised by DFA Media – Plant & Asset Management, Fluid Power & Systems, Air-Tech and the new Smart Industry Expo – had attracted a total of 13,518 visitors through the doors. This represents an increase of more than 3% on the attendance at the previous event in 2016.

ABB, Rittal and HPE develop rugged processing system

At the recent Hannover Fair, ABB, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Rittal unveiled a jointly developed technology for running data acquisition, analytics and control processes close to industrial equipment, thus avoiding latency issues and ensuring secure, reliable digital processing. The Secure Edge Data Center (SEDC) will be delivered as a factory-integrated and tested turnkey system, ready to operate in harsh environments.

DIN standard will ease IT to factory comms

A group of automation and IT organisations has joined forces to develop a standard to help ensure streamlined communications between IT systems and physical devices. Under the leadership of the German DIN standards body, they plan to draw up a DIN Spec standard – a way of fast-tracking the standardisation process, which could lead to the standard being completed by the end of this year.

‘First’ IP54 condition-monitoring kit can be running in a day

Bosch and Harting have collaborated to develop what they claim is the first IP54-protected, plug-and-play condition-monitoring IoT kit for industrial applications. It allows digital condition monitoring to be implemented quickly for of any kind of machinery, without needing any IT expertise. They say that it can be up-and-running within a day.

Sewtec aims to double turnover to £32m and workforce to 120

The West Yorkshire robotics and automation specialist Sewtec has announced plans to double its turnover to £32m within five years, following a management buyout in August last year. This would also entail a doubling of the number of skilled personnel in the company, taking its workforce to more than 120 people.

Smaller LiveDrive actuator will open new applications

Genesis Robotics, the Canadian company which unveiled a “revolutionary” direct-drive actuator technology at the 2017 Hannover Fair, has developed a smaller version of its LiveDrive actuator, broadening its potential applications. Genesis has also announced that US-based Koch Industries has taken a controlling interest in the business, which will help it to commercialise its technologies.

Stamp-sized 5kW servodrive wins innovation award

The Israeli manufacturer Elmo Motion Control has won the technical innovation of the year award in the 2018 Motion Control Industry Awards (MCIA), for its tiny Gold Twitter servodrive, which packs 5kW of “qualitative” power into a footprint the size of a stamp. Elmo, which set up a UK operation last year, was one of ten contenders for the award, which was announced at a ceremony at the National Conference Centre in the same week that the Drives & Controls Show was held at the nearby NEC. Elmo has recently announced a 10kW version of the Gold Twitter that weighs 33 grams.

Power quality meter is ‘world’s most accurate’

Schneider Electric has announced what it claims is the world’s most advanced and accurate power quality meter. It says that the PowerLogic ION9000 is twice as accurate as other meters on the market, opening up new possibilities for energy savings.

Rockwell hops aboard the OPC UA / TSN bandwagon

Rockwell Automation is the latest major automation player to join the group of suppliers that are backing the use of OPC UA for sharing information across multiple vendor systems, and TSN (time-sensitive networking) for improving the latency and robustness of converged industrial networks.

UR owner Teledyne buys another Danish robot firm in €222m deal

Teradyne, the American owner of the Danish collaborative robots pioneer, Universal Robots, has added another Danish robot-maker to its portfolio by buying Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), which develops and manufactures collaborative autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for industrial applications. Teradyne is paying €121m ($148m) in cash for the business, with an additional €101m ($124m) if MiR meets certain performance targets in the period to 2020.

Multicore controller processes data at the same time

At the Hannover Fair, Omron has unveiled an industrial controller with a “unique” multicore technology that allows it to execute high-speed data-processing tasks at the same time as performing machine control. The NX1 Series controller can collect synchronised data from sensors, servomotors and other devices in the same fixed cycle time, and can send the data to a host IT system, while maintaining control performance.

Five years of r&d simplifies large enclosure systems

After five years of development, Rittal has launched a new generation of large enclosures designed to simplify designs and cut costs through the use of a consistent 25mm pitch pattern and symmetrical layouts. The new VX25 system was unveiled at the Hannover Fair and among the first people to see it were the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the Mexican president, Peña Nieto. Mexico is the Fair’s country partner for 2018.

AI software compensates for faults in motors

Two Canadian companies have joined forces to commercialise an AI (artificial intelligence) technology designed to detect, and compensate for, faults in electric motors. The technology allows motors to generate near-normal torque even when there are inverter or motor phase faults. It can be applied to permanent magnet synchronous motors and to brushless DC motors (three-phase or multi-phase).

Scalable safety controls allow ‘right-sized’ designs

Rockwell Automation has announced a pair of controllers for industrial safety applications, that can be scaled to support safety levels from SIL 2 / PLd to SIL 3 / PLe. It says that this will help engineers to optimise safety system designs and potentially to cut costs, while adhering to the latest machine safety regulations.

Smart motor sensor is adapted to monitor pumps

ABB has collaborated with a Swiss pump-maker, Emile Egger, to adapt its smart motor-sensing technology to monitor pumps remotely.

Wireless predictive maintenance system is ‘world’s first’

A US company that specialises in wireless power transmission claims to have developed the world’s first wirelessly powered, predictive maintenance sensor technology. Nikola Labs’ PfM system captures vibration and temperature readings remotely to monitor the condition of equipment and to optimise maintenance in industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Low-cost remote PLC, RTU and edge control is cyber-secure

Bedrock Automation, the Californian controls developer that specialises in cyber-secure automation platforms, has announced a lower-cost controller that combines PLC, RTU, edge control, cyber-security and universal I/O functions in a compact, standalone module suitable for remote monitoring and control applications. The Bedrock OSA (Opens Secure Automation) Remote is configured using the company’s IEC 61131-3 engineering tools, and offers a wide operating temperature range (–40°C to +80°C), a hardened metal enclosure, and prices – starting at $2,900 – said to be lower than those of conventional mini-PLCs or RTUs.

Cloud-based app analyses drivetrain performance

Siemens is launching a cloud-based app that monitors industrial drives and gives insights into the performance of machinery drivetrains. The Analyze MyDrives app captures and analyses operating data – such as power consumption, torque and frequency – to determine when maintenance is needed and to help cut energy consumption.

Fin-mounting motor monitor helps to predict problems

At the recent Drives & Controls Show in the UK, the Brazilian motor-maker WEG unveiled a device that attaches to an electric motor to monitor its performance in real time via an app running on a tablet or smartphone. The Motor Scan device measures vibration and surface temperature to detect any anomalies. It can also monitor running hours, and provide data on motor operating speeds and start/stop times. WEG is planning to add the ability to monitor loads, efficiencies, rotor imbalances, misalignments and bearing condition.

Safety comms system improves diagnostics and cuts wiring

Rockwell Automation has announced a safety communication protocol that, it says, will help users to improve machine diagnostics, reduce downtime and increase productivity, as well as cutting wiring by up to 38%. The Allen-Bradley Guardmaster GuardLink system allows safety devices to share diagnostics and status information with higher-level controls, allowing users to access information from an entire safety installation.

Superconducting motor uses solid-state cooling

At the upcoming Hannover Fair, Festo will be demonstrating a superconducting claw-pole motor with solid-state cooling. Details are sketchy, but the company says that the SupraMotor’s technology is characterised by a compact design, a high holding torque and a long-life, coolant-free electrical direct-cooling system.

80MW two-pole motor targets LNG applications

GE has completed no-load testing on an 80MW two-pole induction motor designed for use in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. The 11kV motor – claimed to be one of the largest of its type – has been designed to operate at speeds from 2,500–4,000 rpm with an efficiency of up to 98.1%. GE’s previous largest induction motor was rated at 22MW.

ABB to invest €100m in r&d campus at B&R’s Austrian HQ

ABB is investing €100m to build an innovation and training campus at B&R Automation’s headquarters in Eggelsberg, Austria. The investment, which will create around 1,000 high-tech jobs, is ABB’s largest organic investment in industrial automation in its 130-year history.

Micro-PLC scales to reduce the need for different PLCs

Rockwell Automation has announced a micro-PLC that supports applications with up to 304 I/O points, 280kB of memory and 20,000 program instructions. The Allen-Bradley Micro870 PLC can be scaled to match an application, thus helping machine designers to optimise control architectures in large standalone machines or systems.

Contactors with universal coils make motor control easier

Rockwell Automation has released a family of Nema and IEC contactors to help machine-builders design smaller, more energy-efficient panels for global markets. The Allen-Bradley Bulletin 300 Nema contactors and Bulletin 100-E IEC contactors are designed for applications of 300A or higher. They replace the earlier Allen-Bradley Bulletin 100D IEC and Nema contactors which catered for applications above 100A.

Bionic spider will roll or run, while fruit bat flies overhead

A camera-guided flying fruit bat, and a spider that that can both walk and roll, are the latest additions to Festo’s menagerie of bionic creatures that will make their debuts at this year’s Hannover Fair in April. Festo has established a tradition of developing bionic versions of real animals that attract vast number of visitors to its stand at Hannover every year.

Joint effort delivers easy-to-use, vision-guided cobot

Sick has joined forces with the collaborative robot (cobot) producer, Universal Robots, to develop an entry-level, vision-guided cobot system for pick-and-place, quality inspection and measurement applications. The URCap kit combines Sick’s Inspector PIM60 2D vision sensors with Universal Robots’ UR3, UR5 or UR10 robots to deliver an adaptable vision-guided cobot that is quick and easy to program and configure, without needing special software expertise or a separate PC.

Water-based gearbox lubricant is ‘the world's first’

Last year, the German lubricant specialist Klüber Lubrication announced that it had developed a water-based lubricant that, it predicted, could revolutionise the future of lubrication, and solve challenges with regard to performance, energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of lubricants. Initially, the Hydro Lubricant technology was available only in the form of a specialised lubricant for conveyor belts.

Wireless monitor checks bearings are getting their grease

A Swedish company that specialises in lubrication technologies has developed a wireless system that monitors that bearings are being fed with the right amount of lubricant at the right time. Assalub says that its WLubeMon system will prevent expensive bearing failures by alerting users if the lubrication is inadequate.

35-tonne truck rolls into the Drives & Controls show

With two weeks to go before the 2018 Drives & Controls Show opens its doors at the Birmingham NEC, there has been a last-minute flurry of exhibitors snapping up the last remaining stands in Drives & Controls and the new Smart Industry Expo.

System saves space when making cable connections

igus has developed a plug-in system for connecting electrical cables, fibre-optic cables and pneumatics, where large numbers of cables need to be connected in a small space. The system, called module connect, allows several plug housings to be assembled together to form a module that contains individual plug-in and separation points.

Built-in sensors automate lubrication of linear axes

Schaeffler has developed a system that automates the lubrication of linear recirculating ball bearing and guideway assemblies using built-in lubrication and vibration sensors, thus eliminating the need for manual lubrication. The system, called DuraSense, provides individual linear axes with the precise level of lubrication they need, based on their loads and other factors. Up to six carriages can be monitored on one axis.

Siemens invests £27m in UK 3D printing facility

Siemens is investing up to £27m in a 3D printing factory in Worcester, UK, to create a global centre of excellence for additive manufacturing. The facility, due to open September, will generate about 55 high-quality jobs and allow Siemens to increase its fleet of high-tech 3D printing machines from 15 to 50 over the next five years.

Pocket-sized PC collects data at the edge

Advantech B+B SmartWorx has developed a pocket-sized PC for collecting data at the edges of industrial networks. The UNO computer acts as a smart gateway and supports the Ignition platform developed by Inductive Automation, which is designed to connect data and deploy applications, such as Scada, IIoT and HMIs, throughout an industrial enterprise, without any limits.

Michelin buys Fenner for £1.3bn to boost its high-tech activities

The French tyres to maps giant, Michelin, is buying Fenner, the UK-headquartered conveyor belt and reinforced polymer products manufacturer, in a deal that values Fenner at £1.3bn. Michelin sees the acquisition as being “in perfect strategic alignment” with its ambition to enhance its expertise in high-technology materials.

Seven years on, Baldor Electric becomes ABB

Seven years after ABB bought the motor and power transmission manufacturer Baldor Electric for $4.2bn, it has announced that it is integrating the Baldor name into the ABB brand. The move is part of ABB’s Next Level strategy, which includes harmonising different ABB-owned brands under the global ABB master brand. Baldor Electric will now be known as ABB.

Altra adds Portescap and Kollmorgen in $3bn deal

The electromechanical power transmission and motion control products manufacturer Altra Industrial Motion is buying four businesses from Fortive's Automation and Specialty (A&S) platform – including its Kollmorgen, Thomson and Portescap brands – in a $3bn deal that will double Altra's revenue to around $1.8bn and increase its EBITDA to around $350m, before synergies estimated to be worth more than $50m. The combined company – which Altra says will be a “global leader in the power transmission and motion control industry” – is expected to generate cumulative five-year free cashflows worth more than $1bn.

Banks to run Siemens' Integrated Drive Systems in the UK

Siemens UK & Ireland has appointed Phil Banks to be head of strategy for its Integrated Drive Systems (IDS) business. As part of his new role, he will be responsible for developing and implementing a business strategy to drive further growth for IDS.

TSN-supporting controllers offer sub-µs synchronisation

National Instruments (NI) has announced a range of industrial controllers that incorporate TSN (Time Sensitive Networking) and NI-DAQmx, and offer deterministic communication and synchronised measurements across standard Ethernet networks. The controllers, part of the CompactRio  family, will allow users to synchronise distributed systems across networks, eliminating the need for costly synchronisation cables. NI says that they will boost performance, help to improve productivity, and make installations more flexible.

Danfoss Drives appoints Baird as UK and Ireland manager

Danfoss Drives has appointed Alan Baird as its new country manager for the UK and Ireland, following John Martin’s move to the position of head of sales. Baird will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s activities in the region, including sales, marketing, drive solutions, technical and aftermarket support.

UK motor-maker has won more than £50m of orders in 2018

A Northumberland manufacturer of axial-flux electric motors has won more than £50m of new business for its motors since the start of this year, with export orders to Germany, Poland, Spain, the US and Asia already in the pipeline for 2018. The company, Avid Technology, is currently focussing on the EV (electric vehicle) market and claims that its motors have one of the highest power and torque densities of any EV drive motor, making them suitable for high-performance drivetrains. The motors are also attracting interest from the robotics and aerospace sectors.

Cloud-based platform will enhance VSD performance

At the Hannover Fair in April, Siemens plans to unveil a digital platform for using and evaluating VSD (variable-speed drive) data, based on its MindSphere cloud-based open IoT operating system. Called Sidrive IQ, it will give users of networked drive systems direct access to functions designed to support production and maintenance tasks. Siemens says it will improve the productivity, reliability and serviceability of drive systems over their entire lifecycles.