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UK and Ireland VSD hire fleet has ‘the widest coverage’

ABB has launched a fleet of low-voltage variable-speed drives (VSDs) that are available for hire from locations across the UK and Ireland. It claims that it is offering the widest geographical coverage of any VSD leasing scheme in the UK.

No-deal Brexit would be ‘catastrophic’ for UK manufacturing

Almost half (44%) of all UK manufacturers have taken some form of action to prepare for the UK leaving the European Union, according to a survey of 429 senior decision-makers in UK manufacturing firms conducted by YouGov for Make UK, the new name for EEF. Among larger companies (with more than 250 employees), the figure rises to 70%, and with 47% of them either having adjusted their supply chains or considered doing so.

UK manufacturers' body EEF rebrands itself as Make UK

After representing UK manufacturers for more than 120 years, the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has relaunched itself under the new name, Make UK. It says that at a time when the country and the industrial sector face an “unparalleled” set of challenges and opportunities ­– including Brexit, digitalisation, automation, artificial intelligence and the emergence of new markets – “it was time for us to adopt a modern name designed to reflect the world-class innovation undertaken by our member companies across the whole of the country.”

First trial of 5G communications in a UK factory goes live

Trials of the first live installation of 5G technologies in a UK factory have begun at Worcester Bosch’s boiler production plant in Worcester. The company will test the ability of the high-speed wireless transmission technology to improve output, and to provide preventative maintenance using IoT sensors and data analytics to predict potential breakdowns.

Midlands company offers robots for hire from £2.70 per hour

A West Midlands company believes it is the first in the UK to offer robots for hire, with prices starting at £2.70 per hour. Halesowen-based Bots Automation has secured an investment of £1m to back its business model which, it says, is already popular in the US.

Scheme offers £4m to help solve productivity problems

Innovate UK has announced that £4m is available for UK companies that want to work with scientists and research organisations to help solve productivity problems and improve industry competitiveness. Businesses are being asked to suggest analysis and measurement problems – for example, why a certain defect rate is occurring in one of their production processes – and the value that solving the problems would bring.

UK axial-flux motor developer signs deal with global OEM

Yasa, the British developer and manufacturer of axial-flux electric motors and controllers, has signed a long-term innovation agreement with an unnamed global automotive OEM. The partnership will focus on developing custom electric motor and controller systems for high-performance hybrid and pure electric vehicles.

Industrial robot sales plunged by 15% in the UK during 2018

The number of new industrial robots sold in the UK plummeted by 15% last year compared to 2017, according to figures released by Bara, the British Automation and Robot Association. The fall follows two years of steady growth. If automotive applications are excluded, 856 industrial robots were sold in the UK last year – 13% fewer than in 2017, when 988 were sold.

Factory in a Box demonstrates smart manufacturing

The UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has developed an industrial-scale demonstrator to show manufacturers how they can benefit by adopting smart production technologies and processes. Called the “Factory in a Box”, the demonstrator has been developed in collaboration with the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough, and several industrial partners.

Maxon acquires UK geared motor maker Parvalux

The Swiss precision motor and drive specialist maxon motor has acquired the British geared motor manufacturer Parvalux Electric Motors for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition expands maxon’s portfolio into drives for applications including medical technology and industrial automation, among other fields.

Experience Centre shows transformative technologies

Siemens has refurbished a demonstration centre at its Manchester, UK, headquarters to create a “Digital Experience Centre” that illustrates how industrial companies can embark on a journey of digital transformation. The centre includes working examples of digital technologies which will help them to enhance productivity, implement flexible manufacturing, optimise performance and open up new business models.

Troubleshooting team helps manufacturers to solve problems

The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre has launched a team of manufacturing experts and research engineers to help UK businesses of all sizes to improve productivity, processes and efficiency. The MTC says it is responding to demand in establishing its System Architecture team, which will examine companies’ processes to seek opportunities for improvement, identify bottlenecks, and find areas where technology could help cut costs, increase safety, save time or improve productivity.

MTC's Levy-funded manufacturing degree will avoid fees

The UK's Manufacturing Technology Centre is launching a degree-level programme to equip employees with high-level manufacturing skills. The Degree Apprenticeship in Product Design and Development will include a BEng (Hons) degree in Advanced Manufacturing. The four-year course will be funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, allowing students to obtain a degree while in full-time paid employment and without having to pay university fees.

Engineering centre doubles to service ABB VSDs and others

ABB has more than doubled the size of its UK Engineering Centre in Coalville, Leicestershire – from 830m2 to 1,789m2 – to meet a rising demand for variable-speed drive (VSD) servicing, customer training, and developing specialist test rigs (STRs). As well as repairing and upgrading ABB’s own low-voltage AC and DC drives and medium-voltage AC drives, the centre will upgrade MV drives made by third parties.

Conferences will help UK SMEs to decipher digitalisation

DFA Media, which publishes Drives & Controls and Smart Machines & Factories, has launched a series of one-day conferences aimed at helping UK companies – especially SMEs – to make the move to digitalisation. Under the umbrella title of Demystifying the jargon: How to make the digitalisation transition, each conference with focus on the needs of a particular sector.