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Microsoft launches cloud platform for manufacturers

Microsoft has announced the launch of a cloud platform dedicated to the manufacturing sector. The computing giant says that manufacturers have been moving towards data-driven automation, IoT, machine learning and AI for years and that 2020 showed how critical those capabilities are as factory floors ground to a halt and even the most sophisticated just-in-time supply chains were impacted.

Next-gen cobots ‘will unlock automation for new sectors’

ABB has extended its portfolio of collaborative robots (cobots) with two new easy-to-program six-axis models which, it claims, set new benchmarks and are up to five times faster than others in their class. They are:

‘First industrial 5G router’ allows users to test the technology

The Swedish industrial communications specialist HMS Networks has announced what it claims is the first commercially available industrial 5G wireless router optimised for private industrial networks. The router supports Ericsson Industry Connect 5G networks and allows users to get started with 5G. HMS is also offering a starter kit for testing and evaluating 5G in industrial settings.

Tachometers expand options for gathering machine data

SKF has announced three handheld tachometers designed to monitor rotational and linear speeds of machinery, and to help maintenance staff spot any emerging mechanical problems. Data gathered by the three devices can give insights into machine and component health, helping to cut maintenance costs and boost efficiency.

Regal and Rexnord create a power transmission giant

The US-based mechanical power transmission supplier Rexnord is merging its process and motion control (PMC) business with that of its larger rival Regal Beloit to create a new business that will adopt the Rexnord name and is expected to generate sales worth $4.5bn in 2022. The deal will take the form of a tax-free transaction known as a Reverse Morris Trust, in which Rexnord will spin off the PMC business and merge it simultaneously with Regal Beloit. It will make the PMC business worth around $3.69bn. 

Schneider joins forces with Wood to push universal automation

Schneider Electric has formed a strategic relationship with Wood, the global automation systems supplier, to help deliver its vision of “universal automation”, based on open standards. The partners will offer their clients next-generation, open automation and control technologies, promising them step-change improvements to their existing operations, and simplifying future upgrades.

20kg-capacity Scara robot opens up new applications

Fanuc has announced its most powerful Scara robot to date – a small, lightweight system that can carry loads of up to 20kg, which is 8kg more than the company's next most powerful machine. The SR-20iA robot is predicted to open up new possibilities in assembly, handling, picking and packaging applications.

Project marries TSN with 5G to deliver real-time comms

A consortium of organisations including Mitsubishi Electric, Ericsson and Hirschmann, is developing an end-to-end real-time industrial communications infrastructure based on 5G mobile technology and TSN (Time Sensitive Networking). The partners in the German-based 5G-Comet project want to combine TSN, which was originally developed for wired networks, with wireless 5G technology in a real-time system which provides reliable, secure communications from field-level sensors and actuators, via 5G and Ethernet connections, to an edge cloud.

Combined scope and data store can analyse drives and motors

Yokogawa Test & Measurement has added a new instrument to its ScopeCorder family of portable multi-channel data-acquisition recorders, which is faster and has more channels and data acquisition functions than earlier versions. The DL950 ScopeCorder provides detailed views of an application’s electrical and mechanical behaviour. Its uses include testing inverters, motors, robots, sensors and serial buses.

Ultrasonic safety sensor is ‘the first’ with PL d certification

Pepperl+Fuchs has announced an ultrasonic safety sensor which, it claims, is the first in the world to be certified in accordance with EN ISO 13849, Cat 3, PL d. P+F has acquired the technology from the German Mayser group, which specialises in safety technology, moulded parts and headwear.

Robots slash magnet placing times from one hour to 55s

UK engineers have used robots to cut the time it takes to place powerful magnets in electrical generators from one hour to just 55 seconds. The development work was done by automation experts at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) as part of a project called Robomag.

MTC trial will allow manufacturers to explore benefits of 5G

The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre is to trial a private 5G network aimed at helping manufacturers to boost their productivity. The network will be installed at the MTC's Ansty Park site and will allow manufacturers of all sizes to explore the potential benefits of multi-edge computing and wireless connections for digital manufacturing and robotics. A live 5G-connected robotics demonstrator is planned for later this year.

Sales fall for a third of UK manufacturers in the latest lockdown

More than a third of UK manufacturers have seen sales and orders drop since the start of the latest lockdown, according to a new survey by the manufacturers’ association, Make UK. A similar proportion (36.7%) think it will take between 6–12 months for normal trading to return, while 28.9% believe it will take a year or longer. A quarter of the 186 companies surveyed (25.4%) report that they are currently operating at full capacity, while half expect to have recovered to that position by the start of 2022.

Nidec buys Mitsubishi gear-making machinery business

The Japanese electric motor and drives manufacturer Nidec is buying Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ machine tools business for a reported 30 billion yen ($285m). The business, which manufactures machine tools, cutting tools and related products, is the Japanese market-leader in gear cutting and grinding machinery, with about 60% of the market, and has manufacturing operations in in China, the US and India, as well as in Japan.

Cheshire plant builds conveyor drives for the global market

Siemens’ UK drives factory in Congleton, Cheshire, has started to produce a new distributed drive system targeting the global conveyor market. The G115D inverter, announced late last year, is being produced in wall- and motor-mounting versions which users can specify via an online configurator, along with matching motors and gearboxes, to tailor the drives for their applications.

Lightweight gear-motor-drive kit could slash robot costs

The German engineering plastics specialist igus has developed a lightweight, low-cost gearbox with an integrated motor and controls which, it says, could cut the cost of collaborative and service robots. The modular gearbox kit consists of a tribo-polymer strainwave gear, combined with a brushless, external-rotor DC motor and controller, force control electronics, and an absolute encoder.

Smart production line boosts performance of humans and robots

The Japanese automation supplier Omron claims to have taken human-machine collaboration to a new level with a “breakthrough” intelligent cell production line that integrates sensing, vision and robotics, and is designed to enhance the performance of both humans and robots as they learn from each other. Aimed, in particular, at high-mix, low-volume (HMLV) operations, the technology is said to accelerate employee training and knowledge transfer, eliminate defects in production, and enhance workflow efficiencies.

Condition-based maintenance service cuts robot downtime

ABB Robotics has launched a condition-based maintenance (CBM) service that allows robot-users to create preventive maintenance schedules for individual robots, or fleets of them, to optimise productivity and minimise downtime.

Enclosed linear encoders ‘push endurance limits’

The British encoder manufacturer Renishaw has launched a series of enclosed, absolute linear encoders for use in harsh environments such as machine tools. It claims that the Fortis encoders deliver high repeatability, low hysteresis and good measurement performance using a non-contact design that does not need a guide carriage.

Monitoring service predicts when gearboxes might fail

SEW-Eurodrive has launched a condition-monitoring service for industrial gearboxes that records and evaluates operating data from the boxes and allows users to plan their maintenance and repair activities to avoid potential problems.

Free tool allows non-programmers to set up robots

ABB has launched an free programming tool for its IRB 1100 industrial robots that allows first-time users to implement robotic automation without needing specialist programming skills or knowledge of the Rapid programming code.

Shortwave IR camera detects defects that the eye cannot see

The German machine vision specialist Chromasens has launched its first shortwave infrared (SWIR) linescan camera, capable of picking out defects in the 950–1,700nm spectral range that are invisible to the human eye. For example, the sensor in the allPixa SWIR camera can detect fill levels in non-transparent containers, identify water and fat in foods, help to tackle counterfeiting, identify chemicals, and monitor plant moisture to prevent over- or under-watering.

Industrial users are turning to integrated gear-motors

Industrial gearbox users – especially in the EMEA region – are turning increasingly to integrated gear-motor packages, which offer cost and maintenance advantages over buying separate gearboxes and motors, according to a new study of the $6.2bn global market for gear-motors and solo gearboxes by Interact Analysis. Geared motors remove the need for couplings and mountings. They not only save space, but ensure compatibility between the components and make predictive maintenance easier to implement.

Southern Manufacturing show shifts to the autumn

The organisers of the Southern Manufacturing & Electronics show have announced that the 2021 event, previously postponed from February to April, will now take place as a two-day event on 6 and 7 October at its usual venue, the Farnborough International Exhibition Centre. The 2022 show will return to its usual dates in early February, five months later. It will be a three-day event, running from 8–10 February.

Linear actuator is ‘the first with IO-Link communications’

The Danish actuator manufacturer Linak claims to have produced the first linear actuator with built-in two-way IO-Link communications. The device, based on its LA25 actuator, promises to simplify installation, automate parameter setting, and expand diagnostics.

EU border red tape is disrupting UK manufacturers

The manufacturers’ group Make UK is calling for the Government to tackle the border delays being caused by complex paperwork since the UK left the European single market at the start of the year. A Make UK survey of 186 manufacturers has shown that 60% of them have experienced significant disruption at the UK’s borders with the EU since 1 January, with 61% suffering from supply chain disruptions either importing or exporting to or from the EU, and 32% having their supply chains impacted in both directions.

Levitating transport system promises ‘new manufacturing era’

ABB’s Austrian subsidiary B&R Automation has announced a magnetically levitating shuttle system with six degrees of freedom for moving items freely around production machines. It claims that the rail-free Acopos 6D system, which can carry items weighing from 0.6–14kg at speeds of up to 2m/s with a positioning repeatability of ±5µm, heralds “a new era for manufacturing”.

‘Breakthrough’ robot can make decisions based on what it sees

Robotics experts at the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry have developed a flexible industrial robot that, they say, has the decision-making capabilities of a human operator. Using a combination of machine learning and visual recognition, the robot can be taught to make assembly decisions based on components put in front of it. The MTC is hailing this as “a breakthrough development” which could save manufacturers the costs of expensive fixed tooling.

Vision system makes 3D inspection tasks as easy as 2D

Cognex has announced a “breakthrough” embedded vision system which, it claims, makes 3D inspections as easy to perform as 2D. The In-Sight 3D-L4000 camera uses a 3D laser displacement technology that allows users to conduct a variety on inspection tasks on production lines quickly, accurately and cost-effectively.

Moulding machine maker buys AMK’s automation arm

The German injection-moulding machine manufacturer Arburg has bought the drives and motors developer AMK Arnold Müller from its Chinese owner, Zhongding Holding Europe. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Batch size one custom safety relays are ‘the world’s first’

The German machine safety specialist Pilz has developed a technology that allows users to configure and order customised safety relays online for orders as small as one relay. In many cases, the bespoke modular relays will be delivered the next day, tested and ready-to-install without needing any programming. All that’s needed is a screwdriver to install the relay in a control cabinet.

Rubix adds repairer Knowlton & Newman to its portfolio

The industrial distributor Rubix UK has acquired Knowlton & Newman which provides electromechanical repair services to customers in the South of England. The acquisition is part of the Rubix’s network development strategy, and follows its recent acquisition of the industrial automation specialist, Matara.

Half of UK industry feels opportunities outweigh risks

Fears over the impact of the UK’s new trading relationship with the EU and the attractiveness of the UK for investment and talent are clouding the outlook for manufacturers as they enter 2021, according to a survey conducted by Make UK and PwC.

Fairbanks Morse buys motor control pioneer Ward Leonard

The US engine-maker Fairbanks Morse has acquired one of the oldest names in the electric motor industry, Ward Leonard, for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition will expand the power and propulsion equipment and services that Fairbanks Morse offers to its customers, which include the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Teledyne buys Flir for $8bn to expand its sensing portfolio

The US industrial conglomerate Teledyne Technologies is buying the infrared imaging giant Flir Systems in a cash-and-stock deal worth around $8bn. Although both companies are active in the sensing market, they say that their technologies and markets are “perfectly complementary … with minimal overlap”.

Motor firm expands as part of $50m fuel-cell plane project

The British specialist electric motor manufacturer Aeristech is expanding and creating up to 60 jobs after being awarded £2.75m of Government funding as part of the $49.7m UK-based HyFlyer II project which aims to deliver the world’s first 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft by 2023. Aeristech is planning to expand its aerospace activities, including developing technologies such as power-dense electric motors and controls for hydrogen fuel-cell compressors. The company is investing in an advanced facility in the West Midlands and, over the next four years, expects create up to 60 skilled roles in areas such as power electronics and drive engineering.

Motor material ‘could eliminate ten 1GW power plants’

Researchers at Toshiba in Japan have developed a new magnetic material that, they say, will deliver major improvements in electric motor efficiencies at low cost and without needing any design changes, and could lead to significant reductions in power consumption. Toshiba estimates that if the material was used in all of the electric motors in use worldwide today, it could eliminate the need for ten 1GW power plants.

Brexit-buying pushes UK manufacturing PMI to 37-month high

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the UK manufacturing sector hit a three-year high of 57.5 in December 2020 – up from 55.6 in November – boosted by customers bringing forward orders to beat the end of the Brexit transition period, and by the ongoing bounce from the re-opening of the global economy which increased new orders and pushed output higher. However, port delays and other disruptions meant that supply-chain delays were among the longest in the survey's history.

Yaskawa invests $4m in GaN firm to boost next-gen drives

The Japanese drive and robot manufacturer Yaskawa is investing $4m in Transphorm, a Californian pioneer in gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductors, with the aim of using GaN to enhance the performance of the next generation of power conversion systems, including servodrives and variable-speed drives. The two companies have entered a multi-year cooperation and development agreement, expanding on a co-operation initiated in 2017, when Yaskawa invested $15m in Transphorm.

Servo safety functions protect machines, people and products

Omron has launched a series of AC servomotors and drives with built-in safety functions that can help to avoid machine stoppages, and to achieve zero-loss production due to synchronised emergency stops.

Pioneering process ‘prints’ sensors into plastic parts

The German engineering plastics specialist igus claims to be the first company that can integrate sensors into plastics components to help predict the need for maintenance and avoid downtime. The company’s engineers have combined additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies into a single production step that allows sensors to be incorporated into components such as polymer bearings using multi-material 3D printing techniques.

Made Smarter manufacturers expect to create 750 jobs

Manufacturers in North West England that have been supported by Made Smarter, the initiative that is helping UK SMEs to adopt Industry 4.0 principles, are predicting that they will create more than 750 new jobs from £12.6m of investment .

Wireless torque sensors promise ±0.1% accuracies

The UK sensor manufacturer Sensor Technology has announced a new generation of non-contact torque sensors based on four-element strain gauge bridges that complement its existing non-contact sensors which use surface acoustic wave (SAW) detection, but offer improved accuracy for the same price.

Drones and mics help to spot conveyor problems

The German conveyor belt manufacturer Continental has developed a technology that uses drones and acoustic monitoring to identify potential problems on large-scale conveyors before costly damage occurs. The technology replaces laborious manual inspections by using sensor-based technologies that allow precise inspection and enable predictive maintenance.

Revamped ETL site makes it easier to find efficient products

The UK Government has upgraded its Energy Technology List (ETL) Web site to simplify the purchasing of energy-efficient products including high-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives. Launched in 2001, the ETL provides information on energy-saving equipment, offering fast access to independently verified product data, with links to manufacturer Web sites. The ETL is owned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Ready-to-run vision system will cut costs and save time

The German sensor-maker Sick has announced a ready-to-use machine vision system that can perform code-reading, and 2D or 3D inspection duties. It says that the MQCS (modular quality control system), which combines hardware with pre-written software, will cut the cost and time needed to set up automated quality inspection and logistics applications. The package makes it easy to configure even complex 2D and 3D image-processing applications, including upgrades to existing machinery.

$999 condition-monitoring kit uses Wi-Fi

Flir has announced a “low-cost” industrial condition-monitoring kit that combines vibration and temperature monitoring to maximise output, improve worker safety, and cut operating costs. The easy-to-configure system can be installed anywhere with connections to a Wi-Fi network. It can track changes in vibration and heat in real time, helping to predict potentially serious problems before failures occur.

Tool gives an instant diagnosis of Profibus problems

Procentec, the Dutch developer of industrial communications diagnostics products, has announced a tool that analyses live data on Profibus networks and gives instant diagnoses of the most likely cause of any faults. The Snap Analysis tool eliminates the need to interpret complicated oscilloscope images and messages.

£5.75m funding will back motors for cars, boats and tractors

A collaborative project aimed at developing a supply chain to manufacture an innovative electric motor in the UK is one of 21 projects that will share £5.75m in Government funding to help develop PEMD (power electronics, machines and drives) technologies aimed at cutting carbon emissions in the transport, energy and industrial sectors. The funding, from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is part of the Driving the Electric Revolution programme aimed at making the UK a global leader in PEMD technologies that will be essential to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

Smart sensors enhance servomotor condition monitoring

The German sensor-maker Sick has announced an intelligent add-on for its EDS/EDM35 motor feedback system that allows condition monitoring of servodrives down to individual machine axes. The sHub sensor hub has an integrated acceleration sensor and is said to pave the way for entry into the world of digitalised drive technologies and increasingly intelligent servodrive systems.

UK manufacturers predict rapid recovery after vaccine rolls out

The vast majority of UK manufacturers (95%) expect their businesses to recover fully from the effects of the Coviod-19 pandemic within a year of a vaccine becoming available. According to a poll of 111 mid-market manufacturers, conducted by the accountancy and business advisory firm BDO, the remaining 5% expect recovery to take 1-3 years.

Rubix buys Matara to strengthen its mechatronics arm

The industrial distributor Rubix UK has acquired Matara UK, the Gloucestershire-based supplier of industrial automation, linear motion, pneumatics, aluminium extrusion and actuator products and services.

Now Amazon wants to monitor your industrial equipment

Amazon has announced five machine-learning technologies and services designed to help industrial and manufacturing users to embed intelligence into their production processes to improve efficiency, quality control, security, and workplace safety. The services combine machine learning, sensor analysis, and computer vision capabilities to address common technical challenges faced by industry, and are claimed to be the most comprehensive suite of cloud-to-edge industrial machine learning services available.

Gresham buys Relec for $4m to boost its presence and capacity

Gresham Worldwide has acquired the Dorset-based power electronics and display technology specialist, Relec Electronics, for around $4m, with potential performance-related payments of up to $665,000. Gresham plans to combine Relec with its Salisbury-based subsidiary Gresham Power Electronics, which designs and manufactures power electronics for the industrial and naval markets, with the aim of boosting its presence in the UK and Europe, and augmenting its manufacturing base and specialist product lines.

$45m injection will see Spot the robot dog inspecting sites

An Israeli specialist in autonomous inspection technologies has secured a $45m investment from US-based Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) to launch a “transformative” system for remote, autonomous inspection and monitoring of assets at industrial sites. The company, Percepto, has also reached an agreement with Boston Robotics to integrate its dog-shaped robot Spot with its own drone technology to perform coordinated inspections on the ground and from the air. The KDT injection brings bringing the total invested in the company so far to $72.5m.

Edge app makes drives smarter and spots anomalies

Siemens has launched its first edge application for drives, claiming that it will make its Sinamics drive systems more intelligent, and will pave the way for new business models. The company has also announced an AI-based module for optimising the maintenance efficiency of motor-based systems.

Rockwell buys Fiix to boost its maintenance services

Rockwell Automation is buying the Canadian computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) provider, Fiix, for an undisclosed sum. Fiix’s cloud-based CMMS creates workflows for scheduling, organising and tracking equipment maintenance.

Servodrives are built into EtherCat I/O terminals

At the virtual version of the SPS exhibition, Beckhoff has announced a series of servodrives built into EtherCat terminals with output currents of up to 16A at 48V DC. The ELM72xx drives are built into metal housings that dissipate heat, even at high output powers, as well as shielding the drives against electrical interference. The drives can connect via front-panel connectors to motors, feedback and brakes using a one-cable technology. They can also connect directly to other EtherCat terminals, while additional I/Os allow the latching of position values.

UK motor developers benefit from £92m vehicle programme

UK companies working on novel electric motor technologies are to receive millions of pounds of funding as part of a £92m government/industry scheme to accelerate decarbonisation of the automotive sector and to help achieve net-zero emissions. A total of 49 projects will receive investments, coordinated by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

Mitsubishi sets up UK support network for larger drives

Mitsubishi Electric UK is setting up a network of Drive Solutions Centres (DSCs) to support large-capacity low- and medium-voltage VSDs (variable-speed drives). Initial partners in the network include Total Automated Solutions in North Yorkshire, Lawrence Electrical Contractors in the East Midlands, Newton Tesla in Cheshire and Engineering Systems & Projects in East Anglia.

ABB opens UK drives workshop and moves support to Daresbury

ABB has opened a dedicated UK Drives Service Workshop (DSW) in Coalville, Leicestershire which, it says, will result in faster VSD repairs. The company has also has moved its VSD (variable-speed drive) customer services team from Aberdeen to its UK head office in Daresbury, Cheshire, with the aim of improving response times.

Becker is Schneider’s new president for UK and Ireland

UPDATED: Kelly Becker has been appointed Schneider Electric’s zone president for the UK and Ireland, succeeding from Mike Hughes, who is moving to a new global position overseeing Schneider’s Digital Customer Experience, Digital Marketing and Global Sales operations.

ABB plans to sell its Dodge power transmission arm

ABB has announced plans to sell off its Dodge mechanical power transmission division following a strategic review of its portfolio. It is also planning to dispose of its Turbocharging and Power Conversion divisions. Together the three divisions represent about $1.75bn of combined annual revenues, or about 6% of ABB’s total revenues.

Innovation hubs will help manufacturers to go digital

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult and the Made Smarter movement are setting up a network of innovation hubs that will help UK manufacturers to cut the risks of implementing new digital manufacturing systems in their businesses. The pilot scheme will allow them to test projects and early-stage technologies in a safe, industry-like environment with expert support.

First quantum sensors will deliver ‘unmatched accuracy’

The German sensor-maker Sick has signed an agreement with a specialist subsidiary of Trumpf called Q.ANT to make quantum optical sensor technologies available for industrial use, potentially allowing measurements to be made with previously impossible accuracy. They say they have already successful tested the world’s first quantum optical sensor for serial production. The first commercial versions, planned for 2021, will be used to analyse substances in the air with the ability to detect particles that are about two hundred times smaller than the width of a human hair.

37% of manufacturers think recovery will take at least a year

A survey of almost 200 UK manufacturers has revealed that more than a third (36.8%) believe it will take then longer than 12 months to return to normal trading, with more than a quarter (26.8%) thinking it will take 6–12 months. Just 26% of companies expect to be at full operating capacity by the start of 2021.

Servodrives simplify machine design and optimise performance

Rockwell Automation has announced a family of servodrives designed to simplify machine design and optimise performance throughout a machine’s lifecycle. The Allen-Bradley Kinetix 5300 drives are aimed at global machine-builders looking to boost performance and adopt a single environment – Rockwell’s Studio 5000 – for control and motion programming of all of their drives. They will able to re-use code from other Kinetix drives, and to streamline the design and commissioning process.

VSDs are ‘first with on-board corrosive gas detection’

Mitsubishi Electric has released a new generation of variable-speed drives which, it claims, are the first to incorporate internal detection of corrosive gases which, combined with AI (artificial intelligence) functions, will extend their operating lives and reduce downtime. The compact FR-E800 drives also have built-in support for multiple networks – including CC-Link IE TSN (Time Sensitive Networking), Ethernet/IP, Profinet and Modbus TCP/IP – without needing costly option cards.

All-in-one distributed drive system targets conveyors

Siemens has announced a compact integrated drive system aimed at horizontal conveyor applications. The Sinamics G115D system combines a motor, frequency converter and gearbox, and is available in either wall-mounting (0.37–7.5kW) or motor-mounting (0.37–4kW) versions.

Siemens gives every worker a Covid bonus of up to €1,000

Siemens is giving all of its employees around the world, except for its senior managers, a special Covid-19 bonus of up to €1,000 to honour their “extraordinary performance during the pandemic”. The company says it is also making the payments – which will cost it about €200m – to live up to its role as a responsible employer “during these special times”.

Nidec is 'planning a $1.9bn EV motor plant for Serbia'

A report from the Nikkei news service suggests that the Japanese motor manufacturer Nidec is planning to build a $1.9bn factory in Serbia to produce motors for the European electric vehicle market. The company is said to be in the final stage of negotiations for the plant, which would include a research centre and could be producing up to 300,000 motors per year by 2023.

It could take 3 years for gears market to recover from 7% fall

The global market for industrial gearboxes and geared motors has dropped by more than 7% this year as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, and it could take until 2022 for sales to recover to their 2019 levels, according to a new report from Interact Analysis.

Ocado buys two robotics companies for $287m

The British online supermarket and technology group Ocado is buying two North American robotics companies – Kindred Systems and Haddington Dynamics – for a total of $287m to enhance its robotic manipulation capabilities and to accelerate the delivery of robotic picking technologies to its Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) customers. Ocado has also acquired a minority stake in materials-handling robotics start-up called Myrmex, which has operations in the US and Greece.

Digital skills helped UK manufacturers to survive Covid

When the Coronavirus pandemic struck, British manufacturers adopted digital technologies rapidly, with nearly half switching to digital working practices within two weeks of lockdown, according to new research published by the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, and Sage. Within a fortnight, 94% of the 208 companies surveyed said they had staff working from home in industries often associated with manual tasks and a high proportion of production-based work.

Raspberry Pi-based computer built into a keyboard costs $70

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced an all-in-one personal computer based on its low-cost Raspberry Pi 4 board-based computing platform which it launched last year. The new Raspberry Pi 400 computer, which is built into a keyboard, costs $70 and needs only a power supply, monitor cable, and possibly a mouse, to operate.

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