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Variohm buys UK displacement sensor specialist, Positek

The Variohm Group has acquired the Gloucester-based sensor-maker, Positek, for an undisclosed sum. Positek, which produces linear, rotary, tilt and intrinsically safe position sensors, becomes the fifth member of the Variohm Group, alongside Variohm EuroSensor, Herga, Ixthus Instrumentation and Heason Technology.

UK robot sales fell by 3% in 2018 – while the EU grew by 12%

The number of industrial robots installed in the UK fell by 3% during 2018 to 2,306, according to the latest figures issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). This compares to a 31% spurt in growth recorded during 2017.

Scots contractor RSE takes a majority stake in Saftronics

The Scottish engineering and manufacturing contractor RSE (known until April this year as Ross-shire Engineering) has acquired a majority shareholding in the Leeds-based controls and switchboard manufacturer, Saftronics. The acquisition marks a further expansion for RSE as it develops its offering as a mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, controls and automation contractor serving municipal and utilitiy customers across the UK. The financial terms of the deal have not been revealed.

Scottish firm wins €5,000 prize for pipe inspection system

A Scottish company has beaten off competition from 445 entries from 32 countries to win this year’s €5,000 manus award for innovative uses for high-performance plastic bearings. Aberdeen-based ToolTec received the award from igus at the recent Hannover Fair.

Schaeffler sale saves UK bearings-maker Barden from closure

The Schaeffler Group has agreed to sell The Barden Corporation (UK), located in Plymouth, UK, to another German bearings manufacturer, HQW, for an undisclosed sum. The Plymouth plant will continue to operate without significant changes for employees or customers, and Barden will remain a supplier to Schaeffler as well as to third-party customers.

Hadfield succeeds Bottomley as Rockwell UK leader

Phil Hadfield has been appointed sales director of Rockwell Automation in the UK, succeeding Mark Bottomley, who has been promoted to the role of regional sales director, North, for Rockwell’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region. Hadfield, who was previously Rockwell’s UK utilities and transport sales manager, has been with the company since 2005 and brings 20 years of automation sales experience to the job.

Event will look at digitalisation in the food & bev sector

Leading experts on the food and beverage industry have been lined up for a one-day conference next month that will examine the issues involved in bringing digitalisation to the sector. Called Demystifying the jargon: How to make the digitalisation transition, the conference will take place on 22 May at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham.

Wilson moves from ABB to become MD of KUKA UK

Mike Wilson, one of the highest profile advocates of industrial robots in the UK, has been appointed managing director of KUKA UK. Wison was previously ABB Robotics’ business development manager for the UK and Ireland, and has been chairman of the British Automation and Robot Association (Bara) since 1994.

AMTC-Lloyds deal supports SME apprenticeships

The Coventry-based Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre has partnered with Lloyds Bank to offer financial support to recruit and train manufacturing apprentices.

UK start-up attracts $7.4m to back £4,990 industrial robot

A British robot developer has attracted $7.4m in funding to back the launch of what it describes as the first desktop robot for industrial use. London-based Automata has been working on its six-axis Eva robot since it was founded in 2015, and is now offering the lightweight, user-friendly robotic arms for £4,990 ($6,535) ­– about a quarter of what some mainstream robot manufacturers charge for a similar machine.

Drives & Controls stays ahead of its rivals

Drives & Controls once again has the largest circulation of any UK magazine in its sector, according to the latest analysis by the independent circulation auditing organisation, ABC. And, for the first time, every one of Drives & Controls’ 18,019 copies are going to readers who have asked individually to receive them.

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.