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Industrial software sales will overtake hardware in 2022

This year will be “a turning point” for industrial automation, with the average manufacturer spending more on industrial software than on automation hardware for the first time ever, according to new research by IoT Analytics. It says that just five years ago, the industrial software market was about 40% smaller than the hardware OT (operational technology) market, but manufacturing is increasingly becoming software-based and five years from now, the industrial software market will be twice the size of the hardware market.

‘Reinvented’ switch could slash industrial costs by $7 trillion

A Californian company claims to have reinvented the switch with a device that offers all of the benefits of mechanical relays and semiconductor switches, without any compromises. Menlo Micro says that its Ideal Switch is tiny, fast, reliable, can handle thousands of Watts, has extremely low losses, can withstand extreme temperatures, and is manufactured using standard semiconductor techniques. The company has just raised $150m of Series C funding, taking its total backing to date to $225m.

Global platform links users of CAE systems to suppliers

The German engineering software specialist Eplan has launched a global service that brings together users of its CAE (computer-aided engineering) software with service providers such as panel-builders and consultants. Called the Eplan Marketplace, the Web-based platform allows Eplan users to search for providers that offer services related to their applications.

WEG invests €23.5m to build new motors factory in Portugal

The Brazilian motor and automation manufacturer WEG is investing €23.5m to build a 22,680m² electric motors factory in Santo Tirso, Portugal, where it already has a 16,300m² low-voltage motor factory. The new plant will expand WEG’s production of large electric motors. Operations from an existing factory in Maia, 24km away, will be transferred to the new facility, centralising manufacturing at a single site.

ICS vulnerability discoveries soar by 110% in four years

The number of cyber-vulnerabilities discovered in industrial control systems (ICSs) soared by 110% over the past four years, with a 25% increase (to 797) in the second half of 2021 alone, compared to the previous six months, according to new research from the security company, Claroty. Almost all (87%) of the vulnerabilities were rated as “low complexity”, meaning they don’t need special conditions and that attackers exploiting them could expect to be successful every time.

Nema index compares VSDs to maximise energy savings

The US-based National Electrical Manufacturers Association (Nema) has published a procedure that allows variable-speed drives to be compared to optimise their energy savings. The organisation has also produced a guide that defines a process for validating digital models for predicting the efficiency of electric motors.

Robots blamed for rising death rates among US workers

The automation of US manufacturing – with robots replacing people on factory floors – is fuelling a rise in mortality rates among America’s working-age adults, according to a new study by researchers at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.

80% of critical organisations suffer ransomware attacks

A global survey of 1,100 IT and operational technology (OT) professionals working in critical infrastructure organisations has revealed that 80% experienced a ransomware attack in the past year – almost half of these affecting industrial control systems – and that more than 60% of them paid the ransom, the majority paying at least $500,000 to the cyber-attackers.

Line will produce 120,000 EV drivetrains a year

The Italian automation supplier Comau has developed and commissioned an automated end-to-end assembly line to produce electric motors, gearboxes and inverters for the Chinese car-maker Geely. The flexible line will assemble permanent magnet motor rotors, gearboxes and electronic drives, as well as performing automated quality control and testing of up to of 120,000 drivetrains a year.

Robot firm raises $30m to automate ‘impossible’ tasks

A German robot control specialist has raised $30m of funding for its AI systems that, it claims, can automate manufacturing processes that could not be automated previously. Berlin-based Micropsi Industries, founded in 2014, says that its Mirai technology already does what others can only promise.

Renault, Siemens and Valeo to develop rare-earth-free motors

Valeo, the Renault Group and Valeo Siemens eAutomotive have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a strategic partnership to design, develop and manufacture a new generation of rare-earth-free electric motors in France.

Motor prices soared by 14% in 2021 – and could rise further

UPDATED: The average global price of low-voltage AC motors soared by 14% during 2021, compared to 2020 levels, and could rise by a further 8.5% this year, according to research by Interact Analysis. The biggest price rises last year were in the Americas and Europe, while the Asia-Pacific region, which is more resistant to price hikes, still saw prices rising by an average of 5.3%.

Schaeffler buys gear-maker Melior to boost its robots business

Schaeffler is buying the German precision gearbox manufacturer Melior Motion, which specialises in planetary gearboxes for robots and other automation applications. The parties have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction, which is due to close by the end of January 2022.

China aims for robot leadership in new five-year plan

China has released a new five-year plan for its industrial robotics industry, aimed at making it a global leader. Already China has the largest number of installed industrial robots (943,200 in 2020) and is the world’s biggest market for robots, with 168,377 new robots being installed in 2020. But most of these (73%) were from non-Chinese manufacturers, with domestic manufacturers accounting for just 27% of the robots shipped – a total of 45,347.

Hannover Fair is put back by a month and cut to four days

The organisers of the Hannover Messe (Fair) have rescheduled this year’s industrial mega-show from its original dates of 25-29 April to 30 May-2 June. The show is being reduced from five days to four because of existing commitments at the Hannover showground. The organisers say the fair will return to its traditional five-day event in 2023.