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Swiss wireless firm buys Sweden’s connectBlue for $28m

The Swiss wireless specialist u-blox is buying connectBlue, the Swedish supplier of short-range industrial radio modules, for SEK185m ($28m). U-blox says that the acquisition will enhance its portfolio of positioning and cellular wireless communications systems with short-range communication products that cater for the fast-growing Internet of Things market.

Wireless standards dispute could lead to industrial failures

A leading European trade body is warning that at row over wireless communications standards in Europe could lead to “major industrial wireless failures”. Gambica, the trade organisation for the UK control and automation industry, predicts that a new European wireless standard could lead to “graceful degradation” of industrial wireless installations.

US manufacturers losing 11% through skills shortages

US manufacturers may be losing up to 11% of their earnings as a result of increased production costs arising from a shortage of skilled workers, according to a new survey from The Manufacturing Institute and Accenture.  

White is the new orange for ABB industrial robots

After 40 years of painting its robots a distinctive orange colour, ABB has announced that it is changing their standard colour to “graphite white”.

New US motor efficiency standard will save $16bn

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced a new efficiency standard for electric motors that, it predicts, will save consumers nearly $16bn and reduce carbon emissions by 96 million tonnes in the period 2030. The new standard, which updates a 2010 version, will come into effect two years after it is published in the US Federal Register.

GE buys Canadian cyber-security firm, Wurldtech

GE is buying the Canadian cyber-security specialist Wurldtech, for an undisclosed sum. The move is one of several by GE to help protect critical infrastructure and to advance cyber-security efforts globally for key industries.

Google announces $1m prize for a smaller inverter

Google is offering a $1m prize to encourage the development of smaller, more efficient inverters, principally for solar power applications.

Digitalisation is key to Siemens’ latest reorganisation

In the latest of a series of reorganisations, Siemens is creating a flatter management structure by eliminating its Sector level (including the current Industry sector) and slimming down from 16 to nine divisions. The changes take effect from October 1, 2014.

Danish robot-maker plans to grow ten-fold at new HQ

Universal Robots, the Danish manufacturer of lightweight industrial robots, has moved to new headquarters, with the aim of boosting its turnover to one billion Danish kroner (€133m) by 2017 – a ten-fold increase over the figure for 2013.

Registration service provides LV AC drives with a ‘passport’

ABB has launched a free service for users and servicers of its low-voltage AC variable-speed drives. It allows them to register their drives online or via a smartphone app. In return, ABB will offer recommendations about maintenance and upgrade services that will help to extend the lifetime of the equipment.

End of Windows XP support leaves users vulnerable to attacks

Many thousands of industrial users of the Windows XP operating system could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks following Microsoft’s decision to end official support for the system from April 8, 2014. Since that date, the company has stopped issuing security updates and providing technical support for the 12 year-old operating system.

Industrial machinery growth rate ‘will double in 2014’

The global market for industrial machinery will expand by 6.3% this year – more than twice as fast as the 2.9% achieved in 2013 – according to a new report from IHS Technology, which predicts that total revenues will rise from $1.5 trillion in 2013 to $1.6 trillion this year.

Automation market bounces back after two flat years

After performing weakly for the past two years, the global market for industrial automation equipment (IAE) is poised for stronger growth in 2014, according to a new report from IHS Technology. 

Schaffner adds US magnetics group to its portfolio

The Swiss EMC specialist Schaffner has acquired has acquired the US businesses Transformer Engineering (Trenco), Magnetics Technologies and Transformer Real Estate. It is paying their parent, Transformer Holding, around CHF9m ($10.1m) for the operations.

Belt-maker Gates changes hands for $5.4bn

The Gates Corporation, whose products include industrial belts and fluid power products, has been bought by the private equity group Blackstone for $5.4bn. Gates’ previous owners were the Canadian private equity firm Onex and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which acquired it as part of the Tomkins conglomerate, for which they paid $5bn in 2010.