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Rockwell Automation unveils a new logo and brand promise

At its annual Automation Fair in the US, Rockwell Automation has unveiled a new logo and a new brand promise: “expanding human possibility by combining the imaginations of people with the intelligence of machines”. It says that the promise supports its emphasis on bringing the connected enterprise to life and how, by linking people, machines and data across an entire business, manufacturers can become more effective and productive.

SPS IPC Drives exhibition is changing its name

The organisers of the German automation megashow, SPS IPC Drives, have announced that the event will be changing its name to SPS – Smart Production Solutions, from 2019 – the 30th anniversary of the show’s founding.

ABB invests $150m to build ‘most advanced robot factory’

ABB is investing $150m to build “the world’s most advanced, automated and flexible robotics factory” in Shanghai, China. The new Kangqiao manufacturing centre, located near ABB’s existing robotics campus, will combine the company’s connected digital technologies, collaborative robotics and innovative artificial intelligence research to create “the most sophisticated and environmentally sustainable factory of the future.” It is expected to start operating by the end of 2020.

Boomtime for linear motion products leads to backlogs

A boom era of double-digit growth in sales of linear motion products is coming to an end, with the market about to enter a period of stable growth as demand starts to slow, according to a new analysis by IHS Markit. Global revenues for these products reached a record high of $7.9bn in 2017, and are expected to grow by a further 10.2% during 2018, due primarily to substantial backlogs in orders. Growth is then forecast to slow to 4.5% in 2019.

Germany’s Hahn Group buys Rethink's cobot technology

The German-led global automation and robotics specialist, Hahn Group, has acquired all of the patents and trademarks of the US-based collaborative robots (cobots) pioneer, Rethink Robotics, which recently announced that it was closing after operating for ten years. Hahn has also acquired Rethink’s Intera5 software platform which allows which users to program industrial robots “intuitively”. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Collaborative robot market ‘will grow by 60% in 2018’

The global market for collaborative robots (cobots) will expand by more than 60% this year, according to an upcoming report from the market researcher, Interact Analysis. The industry was worth less than $400m last year, but will reach almost $600m in 2018, it predicts. Furthermore, growth is likely to accelerate in future due to the wider availability of cobots from mainstream industrial robot vendors, greater awareness of the technology among SMEs, and the wider adoption of cobots by major OEMs. The analyst predicts that revenues will reach $7.5bn by 2027, and will represent about 29% of the industrial robot market by then.

Automation suppliers adopt new models for digitalisation

Industrial automation vendors are evolving to offer proprietary digital platforms using the Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) business model, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. It says that the trend towards digitalisation among end-users is prompting automation vendors to invest in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies, and they are now looking to integrate these technologies to complement their conventional automation systems and to give users better control.

$10m investment in QA start-up values it at $60m

Inspekto, the German-Israeli start-up which claims to be revolutionising vision-based quality assurance (QA), has attracted more than $10m of backing from German and Swiss financial and industrial investors, valuing the business at around $60m.

Industrial gearbox market heads above $30bn

The global market for industrial gearboxes will expand from $25.9bn in 2018 to $31.9bn by 2023 – a CAGR of 4.25% – according to a new report from the industry analyst, ASDReports. But it adds that a slowdown in industrialisation in Europe due to high labour costs, tough environmental standards and uncertainty over Brexit, could hinder growth in this region.

Global sales of industrial robots double in five years

A record 381,000 industrial robots were shipped globally in 2017 – 30% more than in 2016 – generating revenues of $16.2bn – a 21% increase on 2016. This means that the annual sales volume of industrial robots has soared by 114% over the past five years (2013-2017).

Cobot pioneer Rethink Robotics shuts down

Rethink Robotics, the American pioneer of collaborative robots (cobots), is shutting down, with the loss of 91 jobs, after talks to sell the business collapsed at the last minute. The company is reported to have got into difficulties when a large Chinese order did not materialise after Rethink had customised its Sawyer cobot for the Chinese market.

Emerson buys GE’s PLC business to broaden its portfolio

Emerson is buying General Electric’s Intelligent Platforms division, saying that GE’s PLC (programmable logic controller) technologies will enable it to offer its customers broader control and management of their operations. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. It comes at a time when GE has been selling businesses to focus on its jet engine, power plant and renewable energy activities.

Thomas & Betts is reborn as ABB Installation Products

ABB has announced that its North American electrical products manufacturing operation Thomas & Betts will in future be called ABB Installation Products. ABB acquired the business for $3.9bn in 2012 and Thomas & Betts is one of 20 ABB-owned brands being migrated to the ABB name this year as part of its Next Level strategy.

Barnes buys Italian robot tool specialist Gimatic for €370m

The US-based Barnes Group is expanding into the automation and robotics sector by buying the Italian automation and robotics supplier Gimatic for €370m ($435m) in cash. Barnes, whose existing activities include aerospace systems and services, moulding systems and gas springs, is buying Gimatic from its founder, Giuseppe Bellandi, and the European-Asian private equity firm Agic Capital and Xenon Capital Partners, who paid around €100m for the business in 2016.

$140m funding round is ‘biggest ever’ for industrial robotics

GreyOrange, a Singapore-headquartered business which specialises in AI-powered robotics systems for flexible automation in warehouses and fulfilment centres, claims to have attracted the largest round of funding ever raised by an industrial robotics company. The company will use the $140m of funds from Mithril Capital to develop the next generation of flexible supply-chain systems.