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Group aims to standardise industrial cloud interfaces

More than 30 companies and organisations involved in industrial automation and communications have come together to draw up a standard interface for industrial cloud communications that will ensure interoperability between factory systems and cloud platforms.

Design your own low-cost robot ‘in just a few clicks’

A group of German robotics suppliers has joined forces to create a platform where users can create low-cost robots by choosing compatible components from different suppliers “with just a few clicks”. Initial supporters of the platform, called RBTX.com, include igus, ifm, Schunk, Servotronix, Schmalz and Commonplace Robotics.

Saab’s successor buys UK wheel-motor developer, Protean

National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), a subsidiary of the Chinese group Evergrande Health, has acquired the British pioneer of in-wheel motors (IWMs) for electric vehicles, Protean Electric. The acquisition is part of Evergrande’s strategy to become a major player in the global EV industry, and paves the way for NEVS to use Protean’s in-wheel electric drive technology, ProteanDrive, in future products.

UK’s Langley Holdings buys Italian motor-maker, Marelli

The British engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings, has bought the Italian electric motor and generator manufacturer, Marelli Motori, from the private equity investor, the Carlyle Group, for an undisclosed sum. The transaction includes the repayment of Marelli’s bank debt of €55m.

Mitsubishi buys Iconics and invests in Realtime Robotics

Mitsubishi Electric is acquiring the remaining shares in Iconics Inc, the US industrial software developer that focuses on Scada, IoT, mobile, analytics and cloud software products for the manufacturing, industrial and building-automation markets. Mitsubishi has held a 19.9% stake in Iconics since 2011, and the new deal will make the US business a 100% subsidiary. The financial details of the acquisition have not been revealed.

Fieldbus sales go into reverse as Ethernet continues to boom

Sales of industrial fieldbus nodes fell for the first time last year, as industrial Ethernet continued to establish its dominance of industrial networking, according to the latest annual survey of the market by the Swedish industrial networking supplier, HMS Networks.

Schaeffler and Mitsubishi join forces on digitalisation

Mitsubishi Electric and Schaeffler Technologies have formed a global strategic partnership that will build on existing collaborations between the two companies under Mitsubishi’s e-F@ctory Alliance, which they have both been members of since 2010.

Hitachi buys US robotics SI, JR, for $1.4bn

Hitachi is buying the leading US-based robotic systems integrator (SI), JR Automation Technologies, for $1.425m (around ¥158.2bn) to strengthen its factory automation activities in North America and elsewhere. JR, founded in 1980, builds production lines and logistics systems that use industrial robots. It employs more than 2,000 people at 23 locations worldwide and has expanded its revenues by more than 20% a year for the past three years to reach $603m in 2018.

Novanta adds Ingenia servodrives to Celera motion business

US-based Celera Motion, part of the Novanta Corporation, has acquired Ingenia Motion Control, the Spanish developer of servodrives and control software. Ingenia will be integrated into Novanta’s Precision Motion group and become part of its Celera Motion business, which also includes Applimotion direct-drive motors and actuators, MicroE optical encoders, Westwind air bearings and spindles, and UK-based Zettlex inductive encoders, which Novanta acquired in 2018.

Manufacturers on Windows XP are risking their systems

Many manufacturers are facing an increased risk of cyber-attacks due to their continuing use of old versions of Windows – especially Windows XP – which are no longer receiving security updates, according to the cyber-security analyst, Trend Micro. In a new report, Trend also warns that the closer links between IT (information technology) and shopfloor networks that are essential to Industry 4.0 are posing increased risks to production processes and intellectual property.

Microsoft and BMW want to open up manufacturing tech

Microsoft and the BMW Group have launched an initiative aimed at speeding up innovation in the manufacturing sector and making it more cost-effective. The Open Manufacturing Platform (OMP) is designed to break down barriers caused by proprietary systems, and to create an open technology framework backed by a cross-industry community.

Industry group wants 80% of machines to speak same language

A group of European suppliers of equipment and software for smart factories have formed an alliance that wants to ensure that 80% of the machines in smart factories will speak the same language. The Open Industry 4.0 Alliance, whose founders include Beckhoff, Endress+Hauser, Hischer, ifm, Kuka and SAP, is committed to offering an open “ecosystem” and framework to achieve interoperability between equipment.

Timken buys Diamond Chain to expand portfolio

The bearings and power transmission manufacturer Timken has acquired The Diamond Chain Company from Amsted Industries for an undisclosed amount. US-headquartered Diamond Chain supplies high-performance roller chains for industrial markets. In the 12 months ended 31 March, 2019, Diamond Chain posted sales of more than $60m.

Cyber-flaw could allow hackers to halt Rockwell drives

US cyber-researchers have found a software flaw in some Rockwell Automation variable-speed drives that could be exploited to manipulate the drive’s operation or to stop it remotely. The “denial of service” bug in PowerFlex 525 drives with embedded Ethernet I/P could allow a cyber-attacker to crash the Common Industrial Protocol (CIP) so that it will not accept any new connections. The current connections would, however, remain active, allowing potential attackers to take control of the drive.

Small enclosures will be built in €250m Industry 4.0 factory

At the 2019 Hannover Fair, Rittal has unveiled a new generation of the world’s best-selling range of small and compact enclosures, designed to meet the needs of the digital era. The new AX (compact) and KX (small) enclosures are being built in a brand-new €250m factory – the biggest investment in Rittal’s history – that will operate on Industry 4.0 principles, allowing the company to deliver custom-built enclosures to German customers within 24 hours of them placing an order. Elsewhere in Europe, it will take 48 hours.