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Brexit is a factor in Schaeffler’s plan to halve UK workforce

Schaeffler has announced plans to shut two of its three UK manufacturing plants: its Barden site in Plymouth, which produces spindle bearings and machine parts for its industrial division, as well as specialised bearings for the aerospace and defence industries; and its Llanelli site, which makes tappets and special-purpose bearings for automotive and industrial users. It also plans to transfer the activities currently undertaken at its logistics centre in Sutton Coldfield to its other UK logistics site in Hereford.

£600,000 lab will show how robots can solve users’ problems

Omron has opened a robotics innovation lab at its UK headquarters in Milton Keynes. The lab, which represents an investment of £600,000 with a creation of five new jobs, will show potential users how robots could enhance their applications.

‘UK manufacturers are not planning to cope with change’

UK manufacturers need to prioritise forward-thinking strategies to cope with an unprecedented amount of change in the sector, a new report from NatWest suggests. Based on interviews with senior personnel in 110 UK manufacturing companies with turnovers from £5–80m, Future Fit: Trailblazing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution looks at what makes a successful manufacturer, and reveals the views of the sector’s leaders.

Commission aims to boost UK productivity and create jobs

A group of UK manufacturing business leaders and academics have joined forces with the government to create the Made Smarter Commission, which aims to make UK manufacturing “smarter”. The inaugural meeting of the commission, held on 27 September, was chaired by Siemens CEO Professor Juergen Maier and Business Secretary Greg Clark and follows the publication of the Made Smarter Review almost a year ago.

Most UK industrial goods suppliers want to keep EU regs

A clear majority (83%) of UK manufacturers of industrial products want to continue regulatory alignment with the European Union after the UK leaves the EU, according to a new survey by Euris, the umbrella group of 13 British trade associations representing suppliers of industrial products.

ABB launches UK cyber-security task force for automation

ABB UK has launched a dedicated team to tackle the growing cyber-security demands of sites that rely on industrial automation. The company is expanding its existing industrial cyber-security activities and adding multi-sector expertise to support operators both onsite and remotely.

UK government commits almost £1bn to high-tech hubs

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced a further £780m of investment in the UK’s Catapult Centres – the network of high-tech hubs designed to create the technologies of tomorrow. Together with £180m announced by the Prime Minister for Centres in the North East last month, this takes the combined recent funding to almost £1bn – the largest investment in r&d for 40 years, according to the government.

Andy Wylie joins the Drives & Controls team

Andy Wylie has joined Drives & Controls as advertising sales manager. He has a background in publishing and organising events.

Digital manufacturing projects win £11.4m of EPSRC funding

The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded £11.4m in funding to seven projects aimed at creating novel digital tools, techniques and processes to support the use of digital technologies in the manufacturing sector. The projects will bring together academics and industrial partners.

Investment in PP Control puts it on track to hit £40m

PP Control & Automation, the UK company that specialises in manufacturing outsourcing, has received a “significant” investment from the Canadian corporate investor, Ardenton Capital Corporation, which now owns a majority stake in the business. Under the deal, aimed at boosting PP’s business to £40m within five years, managing director Tony Hague has become a significant shareholder and will become CEO, while founder David Fox will continue in the role of chairman.

JC-Electronics acquires UK-US spares supplier, Dax

JC-Electronics, a Dutch company that specialises in refurbishing industrial electronics, has acquired Dax Automation, the UK-based supplier of new, refurbished and obsolete industrial automation electronics, which also has an operation the US. The financial terms of the deal have not been released.

Novanta buys UK encoder-maker, Zettlex

The US-based high-tech component supplier Novanta has acquired Zettlex, the British manufacturer of inductive encoders, for an undisclosed sum. Novanta – which specialises in precision motion, vision and photonics technologies – will integrate Zettlex into its Celera Motion business, which supplies motion control components and subsystems, including encoders, motors and customised mechatronic systems, to industrial and medical OEMs.

UK automation sector grew by a ‘record’ 14% during 2017

The UK’s industrial automation sector achieved record growth during 2017, with a 14% improvement over the previous year, according to figures issued by Gambica, the trade body that represents the sector. This growth, recorded by members of Gambica’s automation division, has returned the sector to the level that it would have been at without a downturn in 2015 that was thought to be due largely to political and economic uncertainty.

Motortronics buys UK soft-start pioneer, Fairford Electronics

Fairford Electronics, the UK pioneer of soft-starter technology, has been bought by Motortronics, a manufacturer of solid-state AC motor controls and motor protection products, with headquarters in Florida, and operations in the British West Indies, Korea and China. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Control Techniques goes back to its roots to rebuild

Six months after he was appointed president of the Welsh drives-maker, Control Techniques, Tony Pickering is not mincing words. The company is half the size it was before its previous owner, Emerson, acquired it in 1994. CT which, in its heyday, held more than 30% of the UK drives market, is now down to around 2%. “People are asking: are you still in business?,” Pickering reports.