Drives and Controls Magazine
PI invests $60m to boost production and ease supply chains

The precision motion control specialist PI (Physik Instrumente) is investing almost $60m in locations around the world to boost productivity, expand production capacity and optimise its supply chains. The German-headquartered company is focussing on growth markets such as industrial automation, semiconductors, photonics and life sciences.

Global survey reveals industry plans to invest in efficiency

Almost two thirds (65%) of industrial companies around the world are planning to upgrade the efficiency of their equipment to best-in-class technologies such as high-efficiency motors and variable-speed drives as they attempt to move towards net-zero emissions, according to a new survey carried out in 13 countries for ABB.

On-line market links buyers and sellers of industrial spares

A British start-up is helping companies to sell items from their stock of surplus spares to others who are looking for particular components. The Web-based business, called Machine Compare Marketplace, is operating globally to link sellers and buyers of surplus stock including industrial controls, sensors, relays, connectors, switches and mechanical components such as bearings, brakes, gears and couplings.

Timken buys Spinea to boost robotics and automation portfolio

The US bearings and power transmission manufacturer The Timken Company is buying the Slovakian company Spinea, which manufactures cycloidal reduction gears and actuators aimed at precision automation and robotics applications. Details of the transaction have not been released.

SKF and Amazon join forces to ‘re-invent’ machine reliability

SKF and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced a collaboration to “re-invent” the field of industrial machine reliability and predictive maintenance. They plan to deliver an easy-to-use and easy-to-scale condition-monitoring and analysis package that will make the ability to collect and analyse data using ML (machine learning) technologies available to more applications and users.

Amazon makes creating digital twins ‘faster and easier’

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced a service that, it says, will make it faster and easier for anyone to create digital twins of real-world systems such as factories, industrial equipment and production lines. Digital twins are virtual representations of physical systems that use real-world data to mimic the structure, state and behaviour of the objects they represent, and can be updated with new data as conditions change.

Nidec invests $80m to take lead in strainwave gears

The Japanese motion engineering giant Nidec is investing 10 billion yen (around $80m) to double the size of a manufacturing facility in the Philippines where it produces gear reducers – especially, strainwave gears. It is aiming to double its sales of these products to 100 billion yen ($800m) by 2025, thus overtaking the current global market-leader in these technologies, Harmonic Drive Systems, which is also based in Japan.

Cobot sales set to surge as ROIs come down to 2-3 years

Sales of collaborative robots (cobots) will grow by 20–30% a year in the period to 2025/2026 – faster than previously predicted – according to new projections by Interact Analysis. It also reports that the average ROI (return on investment) on cobots has come down from five years to just two to three.

Danfoss-Semikron merger creates power electronics giant

The power semiconductor manufacturers Semikron and Danfoss Silicon Power are merging to create a joint business focusing on power semiconductor modules for use in variable-speed drives and other applications such as electric vehicle chargers and renewable energy power converters. With a workforce of more than 3,500, the new Semikron-Danfoss will be owned by the current owner-families of Semikron and the Danfoss Group, with Danfoss being the majority shareholder. They say they plan to invest “significantly” in innovation, technology, and capacity with the aim of at least doubling the size of the business within five years.

Mitsubishi announces plans for $110m automation plant

Mitsubishi Electric has announced plans to invest about 13 billion yen ($110m) to build a new factory to produce FA (factory automation) products in Japan. It has acquired 42,000m2 site in Owariasahi City, near its main FA plant in Nagoya, for the new factory which is due to come on stream in April 2025.

War in Ukraine could hit prices of electric motors and drives

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is likely to push up prices of electric motors and variable-speed drives, according to the analyst, Interact Analysis. Russia is a key supplier of copper and aluminium which together represent around 16% of the cost of manufacturing a motor, while Ukraine produces about half of the world’s supply of neon gas – a key ingredient in the production of semiconductor components, which could affect the prices of equipment containing these components, such as VSDs and other automation equipment.

Beckhoff’s sales soar by 28% to exceed €1bn for first time

Beckhoff Automation’s global sales climbed by 28% last year to exceed €1bn for the first time in its 42-year history, despite the challenges of component shortages and the Covid-19 pandemic. Owner Hans Beckhoff describes the 2021 sales figure of €1.18bn as “a great result that we are incredibly proud of. We could definitely have seen even more growth last year, but the shortage of components, along with the limits on our own capacities, held us back in some areas.”

Rexroth takes control of Danish 7-axis cobot-maker

Bosch Rexroth is taking a majority stake in Kassow Robots, a Danish manufacturer of seven-axis collaborative robots (cobots). The companies have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.

Schneider teams up with NTT to drive industrial uses of 5G

Schneider Electric has joined forces with the global telecommunications giant NTT to implement private 5G (P5G) – a private on-premises networking and digitisation-enabling platform designed to advance digital technologies in manufacturing environments. The two companies are building on an existing long-term partnership to use 5G to power IoT environments.

Take-up of smart manufacturing soared by 50% during 2021

Adoption of smart manufacturing technologies grew by 50% during 2021, according to a new global survey of more than 300 manufacturers operating in a wide variety of industries. Two out of three manufacturers, it reports, are now turning to some form of smart technology to overcome the challenges they face, while making their processes faster and more effective.