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Automation suppliers adopt new models for digitalisation

Industrial automation vendors are evolving to offer proprietary digital platforms using the Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) business model, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. It says that the trend towards digitalisation among end-users is prompting automation vendors to invest in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies, and they are now looking to integrate these technologies to complement their conventional automation systems and to give users better control.

$10m investment in QA start-up values it at $60m

Inspekto, the German-Israeli start-up which claims to be revolutionising vision-based quality assurance (QA), has attracted more than $10m of backing from German and Swiss financial and industrial investors, valuing the business at around $60m.

Industrial gearbox market heads above $30bn

The global market for industrial gearboxes will expand from $25.9bn in 2018 to $31.9bn by 2023 – a CAGR of 4.25% – according to a new report from the industry analyst, ASDReports. But it adds that a slowdown in industrialisation in Europe due to high labour costs, tough environmental standards and uncertainty over Brexit, could hinder growth in this region.

Global sales of industrial robots double in five years

A record 381,000 industrial robots were shipped globally in 2017 – 30% more than in 2016 – generating revenues of $16.2bn – a 21% increase on 2016. This means that the annual sales volume of industrial robots has soared by 114% over the past five years (2013-2017).

Cobot pioneer Rethink Robotics shuts down

Rethink Robotics, the American pioneer of collaborative robots (cobots), is shutting down, with the loss of 91 jobs, after talks to sell the business collapsed at the last minute. The company is reported to have got into difficulties when a large Chinese order did not materialise after Rethink had customised its Sawyer cobot for the Chinese market.

Emerson buys GE’s PLC business to broaden its portfolio

Emerson is buying General Electric’s Intelligent Platforms division, saying that GE’s PLC (programmable logic controller) technologies will enable it to offer its customers broader control and management of their operations. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. It comes at a time when GE has been selling businesses to focus on its jet engine, power plant and renewable energy activities.

Thomas & Betts is reborn as ABB Installation Products

ABB has announced that its North American electrical products manufacturing operation Thomas & Betts will in future be called ABB Installation Products. ABB acquired the business for $3.9bn in 2012 and Thomas & Betts is one of 20 ABB-owned brands being migrated to the ABB name this year as part of its Next Level strategy.

Barnes buys Italian robot tool specialist Gimatic for €370m

The US-based Barnes Group is expanding into the automation and robotics sector by buying the Italian automation and robotics supplier Gimatic for €370m ($435m) in cash. Barnes, whose existing activities include aerospace systems and services, moulding systems and gas springs, is buying Gimatic from its founder, Giuseppe Bellandi, and the European-Asian private equity firm Agic Capital and Xenon Capital Partners, who paid around €100m for the business in 2016.

$140m funding round is ‘biggest ever’ for industrial robotics

GreyOrange, a Singapore-headquartered business which specialises in AI-powered robotics systems for flexible automation in warehouses and fulfilment centres, claims to have attracted the largest round of funding ever raised by an industrial robotics company. The company will use the $140m of funds from Mithril Capital to develop the next generation of flexible supply-chain systems.

Digital factory market ‘will be worth $111bn by 2026’

The digital factory market is expanding at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 35% and will be worth $111bn by 2026, according to a new report from ABI Research. Technologies included in its definition of “the digital factory” include PLCs, robots, motors and pumps.

Megadyne and Ammeraal Beltech appoint a joint CEO

The belt-makers Megadyne and Ammeraal Beltech have appointed a Stijn Vriends as their combined CEO. His appointment follows the recent agreement by Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, to acquire and merge both companies to create a full-service provider of industrial transmission and lightweight conveyor belts.

Nidec kicks off German 'shopping spree' with Graessner

The acquisitive Japanese motor-maker Nidec has bought the privately-owned German precision gear-maker MS-Graessner for an undisclosed sum. According to the Japanese news agency Nikkei, this the first of five acquisitions of German automation and robotics companies that Nidec is planning to make before March 2019, with a combined value of around 50 billion yen ($450m).

Danfoss buys Axco, Finnish maker of PM motor and generators

Danfoss is buying Axco-Motors, a Finnish manufacturer of large electric motors and generators – in ratings from 250kW up to 6MW – for applications such as renewable energy, marine vessels and off-highway vehicles. The financial terms of the deal have not been revealed.

UK’s Megger buys Baker motor-testing business from SKF

The UK test equipment manufacturer Megger Group has entered into an agreement with SKF to purchase its Baker Instrument business which makes equipment for testing and diagnosing electric motors and other rotating machines. The terms of the deal of have not been disclosed.

Yaskawa buys Siemens’ share of their automation JV

Yaskawa is buying Siemens’ share of their 50:50 joint venture, Yaskawa Siemens Automation & Drives (YSAD), giving it full control of the business. YSAD will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Yaskawa on 1 November, and will be renamed Yaskawa Automation Drives (YAD).