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Efficient motors and drives ‘could hit 40% of Paris climate goals’

ABB has published a White Paper arguing that high-efficiency motors and VSDs (variable-speed drives) could by themselves achieve more than 40% of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 goals established by the Paris climate agreement. It calls on governments and industry around the world to accelerate the adoption of these technologies to help combat climate change.

Microsoft launches cloud platform for manufacturers

Microsoft has announced the launch of a cloud platform dedicated to the manufacturing sector. The computing giant says that manufacturers have been moving towards data-driven automation, IoT, machine learning and AI for years and that 2020 showed how critical those capabilities are as factory floors ground to a halt and even the most sophisticated just-in-time supply chains were impacted.

Next-gen cobots ‘will unlock automation for new sectors’

ABB has extended its portfolio of collaborative robots (cobots) with two new easy-to-program six-axis models which, it claims, set new benchmarks and are up to five times faster than others in their class. They are:

Regal and Rexnord create a power transmission giant

The US-based mechanical power transmission supplier Rexnord is merging its process and motion control (PMC) business with that of its larger rival Regal Beloit to create a new business that will adopt the Rexnord name and is expected to generate sales worth $4.5bn in 2022. The deal will take the form of a tax-free transaction known as a Reverse Morris Trust, in which Rexnord will spin off the PMC business and merge it simultaneously with Regal Beloit. It will make the PMC business worth around $3.69bn. 

Schneider joins forces with Wood to push universal automation

Schneider Electric has formed a strategic relationship with Wood, the global automation systems supplier, to help deliver its vision of “universal automation”, based on open standards. The partners will offer their clients next-generation, open automation and control technologies, promising them step-change improvements to their existing operations, and simplifying future upgrades.

Nidec buys Mitsubishi gear-making machinery business

The Japanese electric motor and drives manufacturer Nidec is buying Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ machine tools business for a reported 30 billion yen ($285m). The business, which manufactures machine tools, cutting tools and related products, is the Japanese market-leader in gear cutting and grinding machinery, with about 60% of the market, and has manufacturing operations in in China, the US and India, as well as in Japan.

Condition-based maintenance service cuts robot downtime

ABB Robotics has launched a condition-based maintenance (CBM) service that allows robot-users to create preventive maintenance schedules for individual robots, or fleets of them, to optimise productivity and minimise downtime.

Monitoring service predicts when gearboxes might fail

SEW-Eurodrive has launched a condition-monitoring service for industrial gearboxes that records and evaluates operating data from the boxes and allows users to plan their maintenance and repair activities to avoid potential problems.

Industrial users are turning to integrated gear-motors

Industrial gearbox users – especially in the EMEA region – are turning increasingly to integrated gear-motor packages, which offer cost and maintenance advantages over buying separate gearboxes and motors, according to a new study of the $6.2bn global market for gear-motors and solo gearboxes by Interact Analysis. Geared motors remove the need for couplings and mountings. They not only save space, but ensure compatibility between the components and make predictive maintenance easier to implement.

Levitating transport system promises ‘new manufacturing era’

ABB’s Austrian subsidiary B&R Automation has announced a magnetically levitating shuttle system with six degrees of freedom for moving items freely around production machines. It claims that the rail-free Acopos 6D system, which can carry items weighing from 0.6–14kg at speeds of up to 2m/s with a positioning repeatability of ±5µm, heralds “a new era for manufacturing”.

Moulding machine maker buys AMK’s automation arm

The German injection-moulding machine manufacturer Arburg has bought the drives and motors developer AMK Arnold Müller from its Chinese owner, Zhongding Holding Europe. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Batch size one custom safety relays are ‘the world’s first’

The German machine safety specialist Pilz has developed a technology that allows users to configure and order customised safety relays online for orders as small as one relay. In many cases, the bespoke modular relays will be delivered the next day, tested and ready-to-install without needing any programming. All that’s needed is a screwdriver to install the relay in a control cabinet.

Fairbanks Morse buys motor control pioneer Ward Leonard

The US engine-maker Fairbanks Morse has acquired one of the oldest names in the electric motor industry, Ward Leonard, for an undisclosed sum. This acquisition will expand the power and propulsion equipment and services that Fairbanks Morse offers to its customers, which include the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Teledyne buys Flir for $8bn to expand its sensing portfolio

The US industrial conglomerate Teledyne Technologies is buying the infrared imaging giant Flir Systems in a cash-and-stock deal worth around $8bn. Although both companies are active in the sensing market, they say that their technologies and markets are “perfectly complementary … with minimal overlap”.

Yaskawa invests $4m in GaN firm to boost next-gen drives

The Japanese drive and robot manufacturer Yaskawa is investing $4m in Transphorm, a Californian pioneer in gallium nitride (GaN) power semiconductors, with the aim of using GaN to enhance the performance of the next generation of power conversion systems, including servodrives and variable-speed drives. The two companies have entered a multi-year cooperation and development agreement, expanding on a co-operation initiated in 2017, when Yaskawa invested $15m in Transphorm.