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Battery Ventures buys sensor and safety switch maker, steute

Battery Ventures, a technology-focused investment firm, is buying steute Technologies, the German manufacturer of switches, sensors and other products for automation and safety applications. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Siemens sells Innomotics to KPS for €3.5bn

Siemens is selling its Innomotics electric motors and large drives business to the venture capital firm, KPS Capital Partners, for €3.5bn. The sale is expected to close in the first half of fiscal 2025, subject to the foreign-investment and merger control approvals.

SPS show returns to late November slot from 2025

The German automation megashow, SPS (Smart Production Solutions) is returning to traditional slot in late November from 2025, following several years in which the event was held earlier in November following disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

Software workstations replace PLCs in ‘breakthrough’

At the Automate 2024 show in the US, Siemens has unveiled a “breakthrough” software-based workstation technology that is designed to replace traditional hardware PLCs, HMIs and edge devices. The company is hailing its Simatic Workstation as a “breakthrough in the longstanding challenge of closely managing numerous hardware control points throughout the factory”. The technology ushers IT workflows into OT (operational technology) environments, it adds.

Mitsubishi and Rockwell expand production in India

Mitsubishi Electric and Rockwell Automation have both announced plans to expand production of factory automation (FA) equipment in India. Mitsubishi has just opened a plant in Maharashtra state that will produce inverters and other automation products, while Rockwell plans to open a manufacturing facility in Chennai in the first half of 2025, which is expected to employ around 230 people by the end of the year.

Control Techniques and KB adopt new Nidec Drives brand

Japan’s Nidec corporation is bringing together two of its drives-making subsidiaries – Wales-based Control Techniques and US-based KB Electronics – under a new Nidec Drives brand, with effect from 1 May, 2024. The change will not affect any of the products or services currently offered by CT or KB which will continue to be sold under their existing names. There will be some changes to branding on social media, product labels and brochures, but customers are not expected to see other differences.

Hitachi buys MA micro automation to boost SI business

Hitachi is buying the German robotic and automation technology specialist, MA micro automation, for €71.5m and plans to combine it with its US-headquartered systems integrator JR Automation Technologies (which it bought in 2019) to accelerate the expansion of its automation activities.

Generative AI is now an industrial tool that generates PLC code

The first generative AI product dedicated to industrial engineering has started to roll out into practical applications. Pilot trials of Siemens’ Industrial Copilot for TIA Portal Engineering are now underway and the software will be available for download from its Xcelerator marketplace from the summer of 2024.

Watt Drive becomes WEG Gear Systems and takes on key role

Watt Drive Antriebstechnik, the Austrian manufacturer of geared motors and drives which the Brazilian motor-maker WEG acquired in 2011, has been renamed WEG Gear Systems. As part of its new identity, the business will be upgraded to a competence centre for gear technology and will be responsible for the WEG Group's global gears and geared motors activities.

Schunk wins Hermes Award for AI kit that simplifies handling

The German gripper manufacturer Schunk has won this year’s Hermes Award for technological innovation at the 2024 Hannover Messe industrial fair in Germany. The award is for Schunk’s AI-powered 2D grasping kit which simplifies the autonomous handling of objects in random positions. No expert knowledge of programming or image processing is needed to set up a gripping application.

Siemens opens largest R&D hub to work on AI and data analytics

Siemens has opened the first part of its Siemens Technology Centre (STC) near Munich, in which it is investing more than €100m. The Centre will be the company’s largest global research hub, bringing together all of its corporate research activities in Germany, with around 450 people working on future technologies during its first phase.

Omron joins Neura to ‘revolutionise’ manufacturing

Omron Robotics and Safety Technologies has formed a strategic partnership with Neura Robotics, a German pioneer of cognitive robotics, with the aim of revolutionising manufacturing by introducing AI-based cognitive robots designed to enhance efficiency, flexibility and safety.

Nvidia unveils multiple robot technologies

The chip-maker and software developer Nvidia has announced a slew of developments aimed at advancing robotics and automation technologies at its annual GTC (GPU Technology Conference) event in California. These included a model for humanoid robots called Gr00t (Generalist Robot 00 Technology), as well as a powerful new computer, called Jetson Thor, also aimed at humanoid applications.

Mercedes and BMW explore using humanoid robots

Mercedes-Benz and BMW have announced plans to start testing humanoid robots for possible deployment in their production plants. Mercedes-Benz is exploring using humanoid robots supplied by the US manufacturer Apptronik to carry parts to production lines for workers to assemble, while simultaneously inspecting the components. And BMW is planning to use humanoid robots from the Californian developer Figure AI to perform unspecified tasks at a plant in the US.

Siemens is buying ebm-papst’s drive technology business

Siemens is buying the industrial drive technology (IDT) business of the German fans and mechatronic systems manufacturer, ebm-papst, for an undisclosed sum. The business, which employs around 650 people in Germany and Romania, produces intelligent mechatronic systems in the protective ELV (extra-low voltage range) as well as motion control systems used in AGVs and driverless transport vehicles.