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Festo and Huawei collaborate on smart 5G manufacturing

The Chinese telecommunications and electronics giant Huawei has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German pneumatics and automation supplier Festo to explore the use of ultra-high-speed 5G networks in manufacturing, and to promote the digital transformation of manufacturing using 5G “slicing” technology.

Schneider Electric hopes to win Aveva at the third attempt

Schneider Electric is taking a majority stake in the British industrial software developer Aveva and plans to merge it with its own software operation “to create a global leader in engineering and industrial software”. The deal follows the failure of two earlier attempts to merge the businesses over the past three years.

Siemens and ISA join forces to raise cyber-security awareness

Siemens and the International Society of Automation (ISA) have entered a global partnership to raise the awareness about industrial security needs and standards, and to promote best practices for security to owner-operators of industrial equipment.

Omron buys code-reading specialist Microscan for $157m

Omron is buying the US-based industrial barcode-reader and machine vision specialist, Microscan Systems, from its UK parent, Spectris, for $157m (£123m) in cash. The Japanese automation supplier says that the aim of the purchase is “to further advance the control of manufacturing equipment and production lines, using IoT (Internet of Things) to connect virtually all objects on a manufacturing floor, including components and machines”.

Hackers ‘could turn collaborative robots into killers’

UPDATED: A US cyber-security researcher claims to have discovered vulnerabilities in collaborative robots (cobots) which, if exploited by hackers, “could directly threaten human life”.

‘GE restarts talks to sell industrial arm to ABB for over $2bn’

General Electric is reported to have resumed negotiations to sell its Industrial Solutions business to ABB after earlier talks broke down over the value of the business. According to the Reuters news agency, GE is looking to sell the operation – which makes and sells variable-speed drives, circuit-breakers, relays and other industrial electrical equipment – for more than $2bn.

North American half-year robot sales top $1bn for the first time

The first half of 2017 was the best-ever for the North American robotics market, with new records set for orders, revenues and units shipped, according to Association for Advancing Automation (A3). It also reports a 14% rise in orders for motion control and motor products, and the best-ever first-half performance by the machine vision sector.

China is world’s biggest buyer and user of robots

China has broken new records in its uptake of industrial robots. The number of robots it bought during 2016 soared by 27% to 87,000, making China the world’s largest market, both in terms of robots sold and the total number in service (340,000 – a 33% increase on 2015). These figures come from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), which predicts that the number of industrial robots bought in China will grow by 15–20% per year between 2018 and 2020.

‘Rotation for life’ plan guarantees that machinery will turn

SKF has launched a novel maintenance service package under which, in return for a fixed monthly fee, it will guarantee the reliability and availability of specified rotating machinery at a customer’s site. The package, called “rotation for life” sets out agreed performance targets which the bearing-maker commits itself to achieve.

$15m r&d centre brings motion experts together

The precision motion and nanopositioning specialist PI (Physik Instrumente) has opened a $15m research and development centre at its global headquarters in Karlsruhe, Germany. The 10,000m2 (108,000ft2) centre brings PI’s development teams together in a shared space, intended to promote interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration.

Nidec adds two more European companies to its portfolio

Nidec, the acquisitive Japanese motor-maker which now owns Control Techniques and Leroy-Somer, has added two more European businesses to its portfolio: the German compressor manufacturer, Secop, which it has bought for €185m in cash; and the Italian pump and motor producer, LGB Elettropompe.

ISA White Paper will help SMEs to tackle cyber-security

At the request of the US Department of Homeland Security, ISA (the International Society of Automation), has produced a White Paper intended to help SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) to recognise their vulnerability to industrial cyber-attacks and to forge effective cyber-security plans based on established standards and practices.

ABB completes B&R purchase and announces r&d centre

ABB has completed its acquisition of the automation supplier B&R (Bernecker + Rainer Industrie-Elektronik) and announced plans to build an r&d centre next to B&R’s headquarters near Salzburg, Austria. The deal, which was announced on April 4, 2017, is being financed in cash and is expected to be EPS-accretive in the first year.

44MW synchronous motor ‘breaks world efficiency record’

ABB claims that to have set a new world record for motor efficiency. It says that tests carried out on a newly-built 44MW six-pole synchronous motor shortly before it was delivered to a customer recorded an efficiency that was 0.25% higher than the 98.8% stipulated in the contract. This improvement could save around $500,000 in electrical energy costs over the expected 20-year lifetime of the motor.

Motion control sales rebound, with robotics in the lead

Following a significant decline in 2015, the global market for motion control products returned to solid growth in 2016, with more than $10.8bn of revenues from hardware, and more than 21 million systems being shipped. In a new study, the analyst IHS Markit predicts that the market will maintain a steady growth from 2016 to 2021, with a CAGR in revenues of 4.4%, to reach a global total of almost $13.4bn by 2021.