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Obama announces $140m power semiconductor hub

President Barack Obama has announced the creation of a $140m institute that will work on next-generation power electronics with the aim of strengthening the US manufacturing sector, boosting advanced manufacturing and creating good-paying jobs. On the same day that he announced the Next Generation Power Electronics Institute in North Carolina, he also visited a research and development centre operated by the Finnish drives-maker, Vacon.

Schneider unveils a new generation of controls

At the recent SPS IPC Drives show in Germany, Schneider Electric previewed a new a generation of controls that includes three new general-purpose controllers, a motion controller, a PAC (programmable automation controller), a servodrive, a new version of the company’s SoMachine automation software platform, and a “process expert system” (PES) package that combines PLC/Scada functions with energy management. The produdcts (some of which are shown below) will be marketed under the banner MachineStruxure, the Next Generation.

Siemens drops Robicon name from its MV drives

Siemens Drive Technologies is renaming its Robicon range of medium-voltage (MV) drives, which, it claims, are the global market-leader, with more than 10,000 sold since their launch in 2004. In future, the MV drives will be marketed under the Sinamics brand that Siemens already uses for its other drives ranges, and will be known as Sinamics Perfect Harmony.

Motion control sales will rebound in 2014 after a poor 2013

Global sales of motion control equipment recovered slightly last year to hit a total of $12.2bn, but the growth was too weak to overcome the significant decline during 2012, leaving revenues well below their peak level of $13.2bn, achieved in 2011.

Chinese industrial robot sales will hit $1.3bn by 2017

The Chinese market for industrial robots will rise from $810m in 2012 to reach $1.3bn by 2017, according to a new report from the analyst IHS. Revenues will expand at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10%, while unit sales will increase by about 13% per year, from more than 29,000 in 2012, to at least 52,000 by 2017.

Littlefuse buys US pumps and motors protection specialist

The circuit protection manufacturer Littlefuse has bought another US company, SymCom, which provides overload relays and pump controllers, mainly for the industrial market. SymCom, based in South Dakota, has sales worth around $23m and employs about 170 people. The terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

WEG enters the European servodrive market

The Brazilian motors and controls manufacturer WEG, is entering the European servo market for the first time. The company has been selling servo motors and drives in other parts of the world for about 25 years, and has decided that the time is now right to offer these products in Europe as well. WEG's latest servo products ­– its sixth generation – have been designed with the European market in mind.

Motor and drive prices fall in European oil and gas market

Sales of electric motors and drives to the European oil and gas sector were worth $908.7m in 2012, and will rise to $1,152m by 2017, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

Rexnord acquires Precision Gear Holdings

The American mechanical power transmission components manufacturer Rexnord has bought Precision Gear Holdings and its two operating subsidiaries, Merit Gear and Precision Gear, for an undisclosed sum. PGH employs around 190 people and has annual sales of worth about $45m.

Fracking energises MV drives sales in the Americas

The unconventional energy revolution for shale gas and oil in North America has led to strong sales of medium-voltage (MV) drives in the Americas, with the market expected to expand by more than 14.5% during 2013 and a further 9.5% in 2014. According to the market analyst IHS, these strong sales offset weaker sales in China during 2012, resulting in the global market for MV drives expanding by 6% to reach $2.6bn. It expects the 2013 global growth rate to average around 8%, with big regional differences.

Vacon expands into medium-voltage drives market

The Finnish drives-maker Vacon is entering the medium-voltage and systems drives markets for the first time, as part of a plan to achieve an average growth rate of at least 10% over the period 2014–2020. Until now, the company, which was formed in 1993, has focused on LV drives as well as converters for renewable energy applications.

New US motor efficiency standards could save $23.1bn

The US government has announced plans to introduce new efficiency standards for electric motors that it estimates could save roughly 1 trillion kWh of electricity over 30 years – enough to power almost every US home for a year. Over a 30-year period, the savings for US electricity users would amount to around $23.1bn.

Social media grow in importance for B2B purchasers

Business-to-business (B2B) decision-makers are increasingly using social media – in particular, LinkedIn – when making purchases, according a new US study. The survey of 443 people working in American industry reveals that 25% of them use LinkedIn to gather information when making purchasing decisions, compared to 12% in a similar survey in 2011.

Buy a compressor and plant a forest

The Swedish compressor manufacturer Atlas Copco has launched a campaign under which it will donate trees to the landlocked African nation of Burkina Faso for every VSD (variable speed drive) controlled compressor that it sells. It hopes to donate 225,000 trees by the end of the campaign in March 2014, to create 550 acres of forest – an area similar to New York’s Central Park.

12 billion non-industrial motors set to ship by 2018

Global sales of electric motors for non-industrial applications – from domestic appliances to cars – will grow from 9.8 billion in 2012 to 12 billion by 2018, according to a new study by IHS. It attributes the predicted 23% growth partly to consumers demanding higher efficiencies and more automated features in their products.