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YuMi cobot loses an arm to create a smaller version

ABB has unveiled a single-arm collaborative robot (cobot), based on its YuMi dual-arm cobot, which it launched in 2015. Like YuMi, the new robot has a 500g payload and is designed to be integrated into small-parts assembly lines to boost their productivity.

Control Techniques names Pickering as its new president

Control Techniques has appointed drives industry stalwart Tony Pickering as its new president. He joins the Welsh-based drives-maker almost a year after it was acquired from Emerson by Japan's Nidec group of companies.

Sensors built into spindle bearings will reduce failures

Schaeffler has developed range of sensors for monitoring machine-tool spindles that are built into the spindle bearings. It says that the first-of-its-kind system will reduce spindle failures, while extending their lives.

Hiperface DSL encoders expand uses for digital protocol

The German sensor manufacturer Sick has expanded applications for its Hiperface DSL digital motor feedback protocol by introducing two new ranges of encoders that support the protocol.

Slim hybrid motor controls save up to 75% space

Small, enclosure-mounted drives rated up to 9A are usually protected by conventional motor circuit-breakers. However, when space is limited in the enclosure, it can be difficult to accommodate enough protective devices. Rittal has therefore developed a range of motor controllers which perform the functions of direct starter and reversing starter in a single device.

WEG invests €30m to build its biggest European plant

The Brazilian motor manufacturer WEG has invested more than €30m to build a new plant in Portugal where it will produce standard and customised low-voltage motors, mainly for the European market. The factory – WEG’s largest in Europe – is a further step in WEG’s expansion of its European operations, which has included the acquisition in recent years of the Austrian company Watt Drive, two German companies, Katt and Württembergische Elektromotoren, and Autrial in Spain.

‘First’ IP67 safety PLC can be mounted directly on machines

The German industrial safety specialist Pilz claims to have developed the world's first safety PLC with IP67 protection, allowing it to be mounted directly onto machinery. It says that the PSS67 PLC will save space and reduce wiring as well as offering users more flexibility when implementing decentralised control architectures.

Production transport system is ‘first’ to handle batches of one

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, ABB’s recently-acquired subsidiary, B&R Automation, unveiled an “intelligent” transport system designed to bring new levels of flexibility to the movement of production-line components at high speeds, using independently controlled shuttle carriages.

Servodrive system uses motors with built-in SiC devices

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Beckhoff unveiled a distributed servodrive system based on compact motors with built-in high-efficiency silicon carbide (SiC) power electronics – the first of their type, according to the company.

‘World’s smallest’ servodrive doubles output to 10kW

The Israeli motion controls manufacturer Elmo Motion Control has doubled the power of its tiny Gold Twitter servodrive – which it already claims is the world’s smallest – so that it can now deliver more than 10kW of “qualitative” power from a package that weighs a mere 33 grams.

Nidec Leroy-Somer sets up traction motor JV with PSA

The Japanese electric motor-maker Nidec is setting up a joint venture with Europe’s second-largest automotive manufacturer, Groupe PSA, to design, develop, manufacture and sell electric traction motors. The partners are investing an initial €220m in the as-yet-unnamed business, which will combine PSA’s automotive experience with Nidec Leroy-Somer’s expertise in electric motors and related equipment.

Rockwell buys Scottish 3D imaging specialist, Odos

Rockwell Automation has bought Odos Imaging, a Scottish company that develops and manufactures three-dimensional, time-of-flight sensing systems for industrial imaging applications. Details of the transaction have not been released.

12-gramme EtherCat servodrive is ‘the world’s smallest’

The Swiss precision motion specialist Technosoft claims to have produced the world’s smallest EtherCat servodrive. The iPOS2401 MX-CAT drive weighs only 12g and measures 19 x 50 x 10mm. It can be used in precision positioning applications based on any motor technology  – brushless, stepper, DC/voice coil or linear – that needs no more than 1A continuous at 24V.

Smaller, lighter drive is 'more cost-efficient than a servomotor'

The German drives specialist, Stöber has developed a compact, efficient electric drive that is much lighter and smaller than an asynchronous drive, yet has the same output as a more expensive servodrive. It describes the LeanMotor as a robust, cost-effective AC motor replacement for users seeking higher performance at a lower cost.

Emerson withdraws $29bn bid for Rockwell after target rejects it as poor value

UPDATED: Emerson has withdrawn its latest $29bn bid for Rockwell Automation "due to the Rockwell board of directors' continued unwilingness to engage in discussions about a potential combination".

The UK is falling behind its rivals in its use of automation

The UK is “falling seriously behind” its competitors in its uptake of industrial automation “based on pretty much every metric”, the recently published Made Smarter review has warned. “Given the UK’s pivotal historic role as the leader of the industrial age, it seems disturbing that we appear to be falling ever further down the list of automated, digitalised countries – yet that is just what is happening,” the report says.

Cloud-based motor monitoring will help to avoid shutdowns

At next week’s SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Siemens will be demonstrating a system for monitoring low-voltage motors by sending sensor data from them to the cloud where it is analysed and used to plan preventive maintenance.

Eaton enters the enclosed drives market in Europe

Eaton is entering the enclosed drives market in the EMEA region and is launching this extended capability at this month’s SPS IPC Drives exhibition in Germany. The company will offer combinations of drives, protection and control equipment built into pre-wired and tested cabinets, which can be configured to user requirements. The range will cover power ratings from 18.5–630kW, 400V.

Twin-channel contrast sensors solve many problems

The German sensor-maker Sick has launched a new generation of contrast sensors which, it claims, break new ground in terms of reliability, accuracy and versatility for print, labelling, converting and packaging applications, even in challenging conditions. With switching frequencies of up to 70kHz and jitter rates down to 3µs (a level never previously achieved), the KTS and KTX sensors can cope with up to 250 packs per minute and compensate for high-speed flutter on reel-to-reel material edges.

UK robotics and AI projects win £68m of funding

The UK's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is awarding £68m in funding to several ground-breaking research and innovation projects in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The awards are part of the government’s £93m of funding for the robotics and AI in extreme environments programme announced by the Chancellor in his April budget.

FBI and DHS warn of cyber-security threat to critical sectors

The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the US have issued a warning about an “advanced persistent threat” that, since at least May 2017, has been targeting government bodies, critical manufacturing sectors, and organisations in the energy, water and aviation sectors. They say that, working with US and international partners, they have identified victims in these sectors that have been subjected to a multi-stage intrusion process which first targets low-security and small networks to gain access, and then moves onto networks of major, high-value-asset owners.

Extra level almost doubles igus’ UK floorspace

The engineering plastics specialist igus has increased the size of its UK site from 672m2 to 1,000m2 with the creation of a new upper floor that will accommodate its growing sales and technical support team, while freeing up ground-floor space to meet demand for assembled products.

AI software will allow anyone to teach robots complex tasks

A Californian start-up company has raised $7m in seed funding to develop AI (artificial intelligence) software that will make it easy for anyone to teach robots new, complex skills. Embodied Intelligence – a spin-out from University of California Berkeley – has been set up by a team with 30 combined years of experience in artificial intelligence, deep learning and robotics.

Automation platform combines control and PC functions

Siemens has announced a multifunction platform that combines control and PC functions in a single, space-saving and easier-to-program device. The Simatic CPU 1518(F)-4 PN/DP MFP controller handles tasks that had previously been outsourced to PCs – such as model-based and high-level language programming, and database applications.

Black Friday deals cut robot starter kit costs by 40%

Mitsubishi Electric is joining the Black Friday frenzy in the UK by offering customers 40% off the price of its Melfa Scara robot starter kits for a limited period, saving them up to £6,785.

Emerson increases its bid for Rockwell from $27bn to $29bn

UPDATED: Following Rockwell Automation’s recent rejection of a $27bn bid from Emerson for its business, Emerson has increased its offer to $29bn. Emerson is proposing to acquire all of Rockwell’s shares for $225 per share, consisting of $135 in cash and $90 in Emerson shares.

AI module sits in a controller, looking for application problems

Rockwell Automation has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) module that fits inside an industrial controller, “learns” the application that the controller is managing, and builds a model of it. It then monitors the operation continuously, looking for anomalies. If it spots a problem, it can trigger an alarm on an HMI screen or dashboard. Future versions will go beyond diagnostics to guide users on how to remedy the problem, or adjust system parameters automatically to fix the problem without human intervention.

Free safety tool helps machine-builders to assess risks

RS Components has launched a free safety engineering tool as the latest addition to its DesignSpark portfolio of engineering tools. DesignSpark Safety is a risk-assessment tool that helps machinery developers to embed safety into their designs.

Servo-inverter merges drive- and controller-based automation

The German automation and drives manufacturer Lenze is launching an industrial controller which, it claims, removes the boundaries between controller-based and drive-based automation. It says that users of its new i950 servo-inverter will no longer need to choose between a centralised automation topology, a decentralised one, or a combination of the two. And from the software engineering point-of-view, it will not matter whether a servo-inverter is integrated into a machine’s topology as a simple actuator, as a parameterisable axis, or as a freely programmable axis.

2MW aluminium-rotor LV motor ‘weighs 1,000kg less’

ABB has developed its most powerful low-voltage motor to date – a water-cooled machine in a compact 500 frame size, that can deliver up to 2MW. The M3LP 500 motor weighs about 1,000kg less than machines with comparable ratings, thanks to its use of a cast-aluminium rotor instead of the more common welded copper bar construction.

UK needs to ‘leapfrog’ rivals to win in the new industrial age

The UK is in pole position to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution, reversing its poor productivity, lifting living standards and resulting in a fairer society – but seizing the opportunity will need a new kind of industrial strategy, the CBI has warned.

Scalable computing offers IIoT data where decisions are made

Rockwell Automation has announced a series of scalable industrial computing offerings aimed at giving access to real-time data to solve analytical challenges, and to adapt to changes at every level of an organisation. It says that that this will help to improve productivity and efficiency in connected enterprises.

Mechatronics concept will ‘revolutionise’ industrial automation

Yaskawa Electric has made a rather cryptic announcement in Japan about a new “solution concept” aimed at achieving “a revolution in industrial automation”. It adds that it is about to offer solutions that will merge software with hardware, and will create new value for customers.

Rockwell Automation rejects $27bn bid from Emerson

Rockwell Automation has revealed that it has rejected at least two attempts by Emerson to acquire its business. In August, Emerson made an unsolicited bid, offering $200 per Rockwell Automation share, with approximately half of the offer in cash and half in Emerson shares. After Rockwell rejected this bid, Emerson made an increased offer on 10 October, consisting of $107.50 per share in cash and 225 million shares of Emerson common stock, worth about $107.50 per share.

Danfoss buys Finnish developer of ‘most efficient’ drivetrain

Danfoss is buying Visedo Oy, a Finnish developer of smart hybrid and electric drivetrains for commercial vehicles, heavy-duty machinery and marine applications. The terms of the deal have not been released.

Device combines current measurement and PLC functions

The Swiss measurement specialist Camille Bauer Metrawatt claims, for the first time, to have combined a device that measures large currents with a PLC (programmable logic controller). It says that this combination will allow the device to carry out energy-based automation tasks without needing extra components such as a separate controller or display.

Steve Brambley to succeed Graeme Philp as Gambica's CEO

Steve Brambley is to take over as chief executive of Gambica, the UK’s trade association for the instrumentation, control, automation and laboratory technology sectors, when the current CEO, Dr Graeme Philp, retires on 23 January, 2018, after seven years in the role.

Start-up raises $12m for tech that turns robots into cobots

A US start-up that is developing technologies to convert traditional industrial robots into safe “collaborative” systems, has attracted $12m of funding from backers including GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Next47, a venture capital firm created by Siemens.

1 in 4 wireless IIoT connections will use LPWA by 2025

Low-power, wide-area (LPWA) communications technologies will account for about a quarter of wireless IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) connections by 2025, according to a new forecast from the IoT analyst, ON Power. It predicts that the number of LPWA devices being used for industrial wireless sensing, tracking and control applications will climb from around 35 million in 2016, to close to half a billion by 2025.

Pentair spins off electrical activities into a new company

Pentair plc is spinning off its electrical activities – including ­the Schroff, Hoffman, Caddy, Erico, Raychem and Tracer brands – into a new company to be called nVent Electric. Its water activities will retain the Pentair name. The separation into two independent, publicly-traded companies is due to be completed in the second quarter of 2018.

Low-cost cobot resurfaces after two years of development

In 2015, a London-based start-up called Automata announced that it had developed a six-axis collaborative robot called Eva that it was planning to sell for about £3,000 – thus undercutting most of the competition substantially. Then things went quiet.

Alternative to inverter filters cuts losses, weight and size

A pair of US researchers have developed an alternative to passive filters for inverters which, they say, will cut losses, as well as saving costs, space and weight.

Is your lubricant running low? Just add water

The German lubrication specialist, Klüber Lubrication, has developed a water-based lubricant which, it predicts, could revolutionise the future of specialty lubricants. Its Hydro Lubricant technology could transform the maintenance of industrial gearboxes to simply topping them up with water. The fluids, in which water forms a homogeneous solution with water-soluble oils, could also eliminate contamination problems, and make plants safer and cleaner.

Apple and GE join up to bring industrial apps to iPhones

Apple and GE have formed a partnership to deliver industrial apps that will bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial Internet of Things (IoT) platform, to Apple's iPhones and iPads. The two companies have unveiled a software development kit (SDK) for Apple's iOS operating system, that gives developers the tools to make their own Predix-based industrial IoT apps.

Safety light curtain is ‘first to use industrial Ethernet protocol’

The Italian sensor manufacturer Datalogic has announced what it claims is the first light curtain that integrates with a high-performance, real-time and safe communication protocol based on industrial Ethernet – openSafety, which it describes as  “the most advanced and versatile protocol for functional safety on the automation market”. The SG4 Fieldbus curtain has a Powerlink Ethernet interface that makes it easy to integrate into existing networks and to communicate with safety controllers.

Automated lubrication could extend guide lives

Schaeffler has demonstrated a system which determines when linear recirculating roller bearing and guideway assemblies need lubrication, and relubricates them automatically, thus extending their lives and minimising the risk of failure.

Jones leads drive to boost CT and Leroy-Somer in the UK

Gareth Jones, previously global vice-president of strategic marketing for Control Techniques, has been appointed UK and Ireland country leader of the ACIM (appliance, commercial and industrial motors) operation of CT’s new parent, Nidec. He will focus on expanding Control Techniques, Leroy-Somer and Nidec’s automation businesses in the UK and Ireland.

Photoelectric sensors offer many choices in the same housing

The German sensor-maker Sick has developed a family of user-customisable photoelectric sensors which offer a choice of laser light, red or infra-red LED technologies in the same housing, with the same mounting and set-up procedures. The SureSense sensors are claimed to detect almost any object reliably in any environment.

Toyota and Hitachi to install IoT platform at automotive plants

Toyota Motor Corporation and Hitachi are collaborating to build an efficient production model based on Hitachi’s Lumada IoT (Internet of Things) platform, which incorporates technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and big data analysis.

Tester can measure current and voltage without test leads

Fluke has developed an electrical tester which, it claims, can measure voltage and current without using test leads. It says that the T6 tester will allow users to troubleshoot electrical systems faster and more safely.

Weidmüller buys W Interconnections from Rockwell

The German connectivity and automation manufacturer, Weidmüller, has bought Rockwell Automation’s W Interconnections group, which operates in the US, Canada and Mexico, with effect from 1 October, 2017. The group sells products for industrial connectivity and automation. Both parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price or contractual details.

Machine controllers combine NC and PLC functions

Omron has announced a pair of integrated machine controllers that combine NC (numerical control) and PLC functions, and can synchronise NC processes with others at high speed, thus boosting machine productivity. The NJ501-5300 machine automation controller and NY532-5400 IPC (industrial PC) machine controller are claimed to cut the interlock time (the wait time during communications) between NC processes and others by up to 25% compared to using separate controllers. This can cut significantly the cycle times of machines that generate many interlocks.

Prox sensors with 'world's longest range’ could save millions

Omron has announced a new generation of proximity sensors which, it claims, have the world’s longest sensing distances. The E2E-Next sensors have almost twice the sensing distance of the company’s previous models. According to Omron, this will result in substantial savings for users because the new sensors are less likely to collide with objects, thus avoiding costly plant shutdowns to replace them.