ABB has announced a family of low-voltage switchgear, motor control centres and panels which, it says, represent more than $25m of research and development investment to bring its switchgear to the North American market. The launch is an expansion of ABB’s power distribution equipment portfolio, in which all medium- and low-voltage systems are branded as ReliaGear for standard equipment, and SafeGear for arc-resistant equipment.
Cyber-security researchers in the US have shown how hackers could take control of industrial control systems and hold their operators to ransom. The researchers, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, have demonstrated how attackers could, for example, take control of PLCs in a water treatment plant to shut down valves, increase the amount of chlorine added to water in the plant, and display false readings. They could demand payments to stop the sabotage from happening.
Fieldbuses now account for less than half of the global industrial networking market for the first time, according to the latest analysis by the Swedish networking specialist, HMS. During 2016, fieldbuses represented 48% of installed nodes, down from 58% in 2015, while industrial Ethernet technologies accounted for 46%, up from 38%.
Siemens is setting up its Mechanical Drives (MD) business as a separate company, in a move that could lead to its eventual sell-off. Siemens says that the new setup that will enable the business to operate more efficiently and flexibly in implementing its growth plans in a competitive environment.
ABB has acquired a Spanish start-up company called NUB3D, which specialises in white-light 3D sensor technologies, which use digital scanning to optimise inspection and quality assurance in manufacturing. The sensors are said to detect defects in manufactured parts with high levels of accuracy.
The Chinese appliances giant Midea has taken control of the Israeli motion control specialist Servotronix Motion Control in a transaction that is reported to value Servotronix at $170m. The deal comes shortly after Midea acquired the German robot-maker, Kuka, for €4.5m, and a week after another Chinese company, Estun Automation, bought the UK motion control specialist, Trio Motion Technology, for £15.5m.
UPDATED: The Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec has completed its $1.2bn purchase of Emerson Electric’s motors, drives and power generation businesses – principally, the Welsh drives-maker Control Techniques and the French motor manufacturer, Leroy-Somer. Nidec predicts that the deal will accelerate its growth and help it to meet a mid-term goal of achieving two trillion yen ($17.6bn) in sales by the year ending March 2021.
Manufacturers who start to implement the factory of the future today will save up to 40% of their conversion costs in ten years. This is the conclusion of a US-German study that quizzed more than 750 production managers in leading industrial companies around the world.
The latest phase of the EU’s motor efficiency regulations came into force last month, requiring most new single-speed, three-phase induction motors from 750W up to 375kW either to have an IE3 (“premium efficiency”) efficiency rating, or to be IE2 (“high efficiency”) and used with a variable-speed drive.
Italy’s ESA Automation has acquired the drives-maker Selema for an undisclosed sum. Selema, founded in 1978 and based near Bologna, produces drives with current ratings from 0.5–60A, to control brushless, linear and torque motors, among others.
The bearings manufacturer NSK is investing almost €17.5m to build a new European Distribution Centre (EDC), 4km from its existing site at Tilburg in the Netherlands. It says that the 17,357m² facility, due to be completed by July, will allow it to stock more, to operate more efficiently, and to make faster deliveries to customers.
Following two years of contraction, the global automation market will return to growth this year, according to the market analyst, IHS Markit, which has published a list of what it thinks will be the top seven manufacturing trends during 2017.
The motion control and nanopositioning systems specialist PI (Physik Instrumente) has acquired 80% of ACS Motion Control, the Israeli developer and manufacturer of controllers and drives for multi-axis systems. The financial terms have not been disclosed.
The Japanese automation and robotics manufacturer Yaskawa is investing around €25m to expand its production facilities in Europe and to open a new robot manufacturing plant and European robotics development centre in Slovenia, creating around 200 jobs in the process.
The US Department of Energy has announced nearly $25m of funding for 13 projects aimed at advancing technologies for high-efficiency electric motors. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Next Generation Electric Machines projects will address the limitations of traditional materials and designs by enhancing their efficiency, improving their performance, and reducing their weight.