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Lockdown length will determine future of UK machine tools

The latest economic forecast from the MTA (Manufacturing Technologies Association) predicts that the UK market for machine tools will fall by 21% in 2020 before recovering by 23% in 2021. But the MTA warns that its Spring update forecast – produced for it by Oxford Economics (OE) – makes assumptions about the length of the lockdown period and the shape of the subsequent recovery.

CT revamps drives factory to ensure social distancing

The Welsh drives-maker Nidec Control Techniques has reopened its main factory in Newtown after a three-week shutdown during which time the site was reconfigured to comply with social distancing rules. CT president Tony Pickering reports that the plant is now back to around 90% of its pre-shutdown production capacity.

Two UK motor-makers win Queens Innovation Awards

A Surrey-based servomotor manufacturer has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for a range of direct-drive integrated servomotors that combine brushless DC motors, drive electronics, position encoding and software in a compact package, capable of precise, smooth and silent motion. Woking-located Overview’s Servotorq motors are aimed at applications such as surveillance platforms, precision cameras, lasers and military sensor systems.

ECA tax relief scheme for efficient motors and VSDs has ended

The Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) tax scheme designed to encourage the use of energy-efficient technologies, including high-efficiency motors and VSDs (variable-speed drives), has ended, almost 20 years after it was launched.

Magnet-flipping clock wins Young Engineer of the Year award

A first-year student at Imperial College in London has won the 2020 GSK UK Young Engineer of the Year award for his design of a minimalist electromechanical clock in which tells the time using small disc-shaped magnetic “hands” that flip over on a wooden face. Chris Kalogroulis, 18, who is studying design engineering, wanted to create a product which has an aesthetic appeal, but would allow him to apply his mechanical, electronics and programming skills.

70% of Drives & Controls readers are working from home

More than 70% of Drives & Controls’ readers are currently working from home, with almost half of them reporting that they feel they can be 100% productive working this way, according to an online survey conducted by the magazine.

Postponed machine vision conference goes online

Following the postponement of this year’s UKIVA Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC) until the spring of 2021, the UK Industrial Vision Association is launching a Web site where people registered for the 2020 event will have free access to presentations by speakers who had been due to speak at the event.

Andy Pye joins Drives & Controls as consultant editor

We are pleased to announce that Andy Pye has joined Drives & Controls in the role of consultant editor. He will also be working on two other magazines published by DFA Media: Smart Machines & Factories and Plant & Works Engineering.

Drives & Controls Show is postponed until January 2021

DFA Media, organiser of Drives & Controls Exhibition and the other shows that were due to take place at the Birmingham NEC in April, has decided to postpone the events because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

MTA moves Mach to 2021 in response to Coronavirus

The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), which owns and runs the UK’s largest manufacturing trade event, the Mach exhibition, has announced that it is rescheduling the show from April 2020 to January 2021, in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

UK's £9m 5G manufacturing project is the largest

The UK government has announced its biggest investment in using 5G for manufacturing to date – a £9m ($11.7m) project that will install a private 5G network at the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol. The multi-partner project, called 5G-Encode, will explore new business models for private 5G networks in industrial settings and test new 5G technologies, such as network splicing and slicing, in a real working environments. It will also examine the practical application of 5G wireless technologies to improve composite design and production processes.

Reconfigurable UK robot targets SME batch applications

A British start-up company is developing a modular collaborative robot (cobot) that can be adapted, by adding or removing extension modules, to handle a variety of payloads and reaches. Guildford-based Inovo Robotics is targeting, in particular, SME (small and medium size enterprise) manufacturers with limited production runs, which may need to reconfigure their robotic systems from one production run to another.

UK government gives electrical machines a £37m boost

The UK business secretary Alok Sharma has announced a £36.7m investment programme to design, test and manufacture electric machines for future low-carbon transport applications, aimed at helping the UK to achieve its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050. The bulk of the funding (£30m) will be used to create four new centres of excellence – in Newport, Nottingham, Strathclyde and Sunderland – that will research and develop green electric machines, for applications including planes, ships and cars.

SMEs invested £5.4m in first year of Made Smarter programme

In the first year of the Made Smarter North West pilot, 300 small and medium-sized manufacturers have have invested £5.4m in new technologies, aided by £1.6m of funding. The pilot is working with SMEs in North West England, offering them impartial advice, and helping them introduce digital tools and technologies to boost their productivity and growth.

UK project aims for ‘world’s most power-dense PM motor’

A UK company is developing what it claims will be the world’s most power-dense permanent magnet electric motor. Norfolk-based Equipmake has teamed up with the Bristol-based additive manufacturing organisation HiEta Technologies to develop the next-generation motor with a target peak power density of at least 20kW/kg – more than four times that of a conventional motor. The project is being supported by a grant from the UK government’s innovation funding body, Innovate UK.