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UK’s £22m National Robotarium launches with Tata tie-up

The UK’s largest and most advanced r&d facility for robotics and artificial intelligence, the £22.4m National Robotarium, has opened its doors at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The centre has also announced an applied engineering and research collaboration with the multi-billion dollar company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), covering joint research across disciplines including soft robotics, field robotics, cobots and tele-operations.

UK manufacturers battle with the City to attract digital skills

UK manufacturers are having to compete with the financial sector and other high-paying parts of the economy to recruit the data specialists that they need to drive the move to digitalisation. A new survey by the British manufacturers’ group Make UK and the accountancy firm Sage reveals that more than a quarter (27%) of UK manufacturers say that they now need data analysts to help them make the transition to the digital era.

Robots will automate motor assembly at new winding centre

A technology centre due to open next year will help UK companies to deliver the next generation of electric motors. The Winding Centre of Excellence (WCE) is being set up by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), part of the University of Warwick, and is being partly funded by £4m from UKRI’s (UK Research and Innovation) Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge programme. The WMG High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) is contributing a further £300,000.

BGEN buys Radway to boost its industrial automation activities

BGEN, the multi-discipline engineering business previously known as Boulting, has acquired Radway Control Systems to stengthen its industrial automation offering. The purchase will support BGEN’s ambition to expand in sectors including renewables and steel, and boost its presence in the automation aftermarket and service sector.

Royal Mint plant will be ‘first’ to turn waste PCBs into gold

The Royal Mint is building the world’s first plant designed to recover precious metals, including gold, from discarded electronic devices such as mobile phones. When fully operational in 2023, the plant, at the Mint’s secure site in South Wales, is expected to process up to 90 tonnes of UK-sourced circuit boards every week – producing hundreds of kilograms of gold per year which the Mint can use to produce coins. The venture will support around 40 jobs, helping existing employees to reskill, as well as recruiting new chemists and engineers.

Routeco takes control of simulation specialist, AutoLogic

The Routeco Group has acquired a majority stake in AutoLogic Systems, the Tetsworth, Oxfordshire-based supplier of simulation products, consulting and related services. AutoLogic’s management team and employees will continue serve its customers and to develop the business further. Details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Convergix buys AGR and Aylesbury Automation

US-based Convergix Automation Solutions has bought AGR Automation, a UK-based automation designer and systems integrator, whose headquarters are in Arbroath, Scotland. AGR also owns Aylesbury Automation in Buckinghamshire and has a factory in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

UK manufacturers see energy prices as threat to existence

Nearly six out of ten UK manufacturers (58%) now fear that soaring energy prices are threatening their businesses – up from 8% just four months ago – according to a survey by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation. Already, 13% have cut their operating hours or are avoiding production during peak periods, and 7% are stopping production for longer periods, while 12% report that they have already made job cuts as a direct result of higher energy bills. They warn that if expected price hikes of more than 50% occur over the coming 12 months, they will need to take more drastic action such as full shutdowns and wider redundancies.

UK manufacturing drop is steepest since first Covid lockdown

UK manufacturing production suffered its steepest decline in August since May 2020. Companies experienced a sharp reversal in new orders, with demand from domestic and overseas clients contracting sharply. This led to a near stalling of jobs growth and drop in business optimism, according to the latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for UK manufacturing produced by S&P Global and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

Brammer Buck & Hickman becomes Rubix

The UK industrial supplies specialist Brammer Buck & Hickman is changing its name to Rubix – the group that has owned it since 2018. Brammer Buck & Hickman was formed in 2011 when the MRO distributor Brammer merged with Buck & Hickman, a supplier of tools and health and safety products. It currently has more than 1,100 employees working at more than 40 branches across the UK.

Baker Hughes buys Brush machinery arm to extend portfolio

The US energy technology company Baker Hughes is buying the Power Generation division of Brush Group from its private equity owner, One Equity Partners, for an undisclosed sum. Baker Hughes says that the division – which manufactures synchronous motors as well as generators, condensers and control systems – will enhance its turbomachinery portfolio, as well as optimising its supply chain using Brush Power Generation’s manufacturing base and expanding its capacity for projects in both the industrial and energy sectors.

£13m extension will offer robotics training to apprentices

Construction has started on a £13m extension to the Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS) training centre which will be used for new apprenticeship programmes in areas including robotics, data science, cybersecurity, energy storage, power engineering and space. The OAS team is also developing a curriculum for a new automation and controls level 4 apprenticeship programme, which it expects to deliver from September 2023.

Talking Industry Webinars are now available as podcasts

The Talking Industry series of online panel discussions are now available in a convenient podcast format. As well as audio recordings of the Webinars, DFA Manufacturing Media – which organises the online discussions and publishes Drives & Controls – is also planning to publish original podcasts both as one-off editions such as interviews with industry personalities, and as series of related programmes.

Siemens UK VSD plant will be carbon-neutral 8 years early

Siemens’ variable-speed drives factory in Cheshire, UK, is on track to achieve carbon neutrality this year – eight years ahead of its original target. The Congleton site, which manufactures more than 1.2m controls and drives every year, has achieved this goal by deploying a range of sustainable technologies for energy generation and demand, including generating 75kW of renewable energy from a hydro-electric plant on the nearby river Dane, and using carbon-neutral biogas to power an on-site gas engine. These measures alone are saving the company £250,000 a year and have taken the 80% power-independent factory off the grid.

Entries are about to close for 2022/23 Buyer’s Guide

The July/August edition of Drives & Controls magazine will contain our annual Buyer’s Guide for Drives, Automation, Power Transmission and Motion Control. For more than 35 years, this has been an essential tool for buyers and users of these products, offering easy-to access information on who makes and sells what, and how to contact them. There is nothing else like it in the UK market.