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Electronics distribution giant targets automation

Digi-Key Electronics, the US-based global distributor of electronic components, has set its sights on becoming the world’s leading supplier of industrial automation (IA) components as well. The company has added more than 14,000 automation parts to its portfolio, including products from Sick, Idec, Carlo Gavazzi and Belden.

SKF sells linear motion business to Triton for $310m

SKF is selling its linear and actuation technology business, SKF Motion Technologies, to the venture capital company Triton for a total of SEK 2.75bn ($310m) on a cash- and debt-free basis. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2018, provided that it receives regulatory approvals and is accepted by employee bodies.

Timken buys Italian linear motion specialist, Rollon

The US-based Timken Company is buying the Italian linear motion products specialist Rollon Group, for an undisclosed sum.

Cone Drive returns to US ownership as Timken buys it

The US bearings and power transmission company, Timken, is buying the precision mechanical drives manufacturer, Cone Drive, from Scotland’s Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC), for an undisclosed amount. The deal marks a return to American ownership for Cone Drive, which CBC acquired in 2008 as part of the Textron’s gear technology division (which also included AB Benzlers, the David Brown Group, Maag Pumps and Union Pumps).

ABB buys intrion to boost its logistics automation presence

ABB is buying the Belgian robotics automation provider intrion, with the aim of boosting its expertise in fast-growing logistics automation market. The two parties have agreed not to disclose the value of the transaction, which is expected to close later this year.

Megadyne and Ammeraal acquired in €2bn deal

Partners Group, the private markets investment manager, is buying two industrial belts businesses – the Italian group Megadyne and the Dutch firm Ammeraal Beltech. The combined value of the two transactions, which both include investments from their management teams, is €2bn. Partners Group is buying Ammeraal from Advent International (which acquired it in 2015), and Megadyne from its owners the private equity firm Astorg, the investment manager Fondo Italiano di Investimento, and the Tadolini family, which has run the business since Corrado Tadolini founded it in 1957.

HMS buys German embedded comms specialist Beck IPC

Sweden’s HMS Industrial Networks has acquired the German embedded communications specialist Beck IPC for €5m in cash. If Beck IPC achieves defined financial targets, an additional €2m may be paid in 2020.

Industrial automation market will approach $210bn in 2018

The global market for industrial automation equipment was worth an estimated $202.2bn in 2017, and is predicted to grow by 3.8% this year to reach $209.8bn, and by a further 4% during 2019 to hit $218.2bn, according to the latest analysis by IHS Markit. It says that the growth is being driven by the strong global economy, and by the expanding production of increasingly automated machines.

Pilz enters robot market with open, modular family

The German industrial safety specialist Pilz has entered the robotics market with a portfolio of modular products including a six-axis robot arm, a control module incorporating drive technology, and an operator module. The products made their debut at the recent Automatica exhibition in Germany, where Pilz was also demonstrating a prototype two-arm robot.

Chinese motors giant buys GE small motors business for $160m

China’s largest electric motor manufacturer, Wolong Electric, has bought GE’s Small Industrial Motors (SIM) business for $160m in cash. The deal covers the design, development, manufacturing and sales of low-voltage and TEFC (totally enclosed fan-cooled) medium-voltage motors up to 1,750hp (1.3MW), as well as an agreement that will allow Wolong to sell SIM products carrying the GE brand in the American market for ten years.

ABB finalises $2.6bn acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions

ABB has completed its $2.6bn acquisition of GE Industrial Solutions (GEIS), GE’s global electrification solutions business, to strengthen its position as global number two in this sector, behind Schneider Electric. The transaction, announced in September 2017, is expected to produce growth opportunities from combining ABB’s digital offering, ABB Ability, with GEIS’ installed base, and is forecast to deliver about $200m of annual cost synergies by year five.

Conveyor belts: lease, don’t buy?

The German conveyor belt manufacturer Continental believes that technology is changing the way that we will buy and maintain conveyor belts in future. At the Hannover Fair earlier this year, it was demonstrating how sensors can now monitor the condition of belts in real time and transmit this information to the manufacturer for analysis, allowing belts to be serviced before they fail and cause downtime. Continental believes that, in future, belts will be leased as a “service”, rather than being bought outright.

Europe’s largest MRO firm, IPH Brammer, is reborn as Rubix

UPDATED: Europe’s largest supplier of industrial maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) products and services, IPH Brammer, has been renamed Rubix. The group was created last year when the venture capital firm Advent International, which already owned Brammer, bought the European industrial supplies distributor, IPH, and combined the businesses.

Global robot sales soar by 29% to hit a new record

Global sales of industrial robots soared by 29% last year to hit a new record of 380,550, according to preliminary statistics released by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) at the Automatica show in Germany. The 2017 sales were worth around $50bn.

€120m investment applies Industry 4.0 to building enclosures

Rittal is investing €120m to build a new plant to manufacture large enclosures at its Rittershausen site in Germany, based on Industry 4.0 principles. It is also installing high-tech lines at a greenfield site in Haiger to produce its new VX25 generation of large enclosures.