Drives and Controls Magazine
Group aims to link location-tracking technologies

UPDATED: A global group of 60 industrial companies, led by the machine-tool maker Trumpf, and including Siemens, Sick and Pepperl+Fuchs as members, is drawing up a new positioning technology standard for tracking items including AGVs and drones. The consortium, called Omlox, had planned to unveil the technology at the 2020 Hannover Fair but, following the event’s cancellation, it is holding an online launch from 29 June to 2 July instead.

Industrial Ethernet powers ahead, while fieldbuses slide

Industrial Ethernet increased its share of the global market for new industrial networking nodes from 59% in 2018 to 64% last year, while fieldbuses continued to decline, dropping from 35% in 2018 to 30% in 2019. The figures come from the latest annual analysis of the industrial networking market by the Swedish industrial networking specialist, HMS Networks.

Motion control sales will fall by 7.5% in 2020, but rebound

The global motion controls market will fall by 7.5% this year, before starting to recover in 2021 and slowing down again in 2023, according to the latest predictions from Interact Analysis. The smaller CNC (computer numerical controls) market will be particularly badly hit, with a 24.7% decline this year, partly because of its exposure to two major sectors – aerospace and automotive – that have been almost completely shut down by the Covid-19 pandemic.

5G connections are set to disrupt factory communications

There will be almost four billion wireless connections in smart factories around the world by 2030, according a new forecast from Nokia and ABI Research. It predicts that between 2019 and 2030, the market for low-power, wide-area (LPWA) LTE (Long-Term Evolution) wireless networking in factories will mushroom with a CAGR of 93.8%.

Siemens suggests using digital twins to keep factories safe

By equipping factory workers with personal transponders, Siemens has created a way for companies to model how their employees interact with each other, and with production lines and plant designs. The technology, based on proven hardware and software, will allow organisations to create digital twins that simulate worker safety, and can optimise workspace layouts and validate safety and efficiency measures.

Rockwell and PTC offer free AR software for remote servicing

As part of their strategic alliance, PTC and Rockwell Automation, are offering free augmented reality (AR) software until August 2020 to help their customers to maintain business continuity while complying with stay-at-home orders. The PTC Vuforia Chalk software allows service personnel and operators to connect and collaborate with remotely located experts to solve unfamiliar or unexpected machinery or equipment problems.

Global manufacturing will not hit 2019 levels until 2024

Global manufacturing output will fall by 7.6% in 2020, but most countries will exceed 2019 levels of production by 2024 – some as soon as 2022 – according a new forecast from Interact Analysis. It expects the US, the UK, Italy, India and Brazil to be the countries whose manufacturing sectors will be worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with South Korea and China being the least affected.

Europe's biggest 5G research network targets factory apps

Europe’s largest 5G research network has gone live in Germany with the aim of developing technologies and applications for digitised and networked production in factories. The German government is contributing almost €6.2m towards the cost of establishing and running the 5G Industry Campus Europe, which covers an area of 1km2 at RWTH Aachen University, including 7,000m2 of machine halls.

Nema publishes guide to disinfecting electrical equipment for Covid-19

The US-based National Electrical Manufacturers Association (Nema) has published a free downloadable guide on how to disinfect electrical equipment for Covid-19, while preserving the equipment’s functions and integrity.

US researchers find that every robot replaces 3.3 jobs

American researchers have calculated that every new industrial robot installed in the US between 1993 and 2007 replaced 3.3 jobs. But in a separate analysis of French industry from 2010 to 2015, they have also found that firms that adopt robots quickly became more productive and hire more workers, while their competitors fall behind and shed workers – with jobs again being reduced overall.

Siemens plans to spin off its Flender gears and couplings arm

Siemens has announced plans to spin off its Flender mechanical power transmission business, which it describes as “the world’s leading manufacturer of mechanical drive systems”.

Voith buys Austrian electric motor manufacturer, Elin

The global technology company Voith has taken control of the Austrian motor and generator manufacturer Elin Motoren, by acquiring a 70% stake in the company for an undisclosed sum. Elin will remain an independent business and will continue to use the Elin brand. The remaining 30% of the business is being held by Franz Hrachowitz.

SPE industry groups expand – and one gets a new name

Two separate industry groups that are promoting Single-Pair Ethernet (SPE) technologies, have both added new members. The SPE Industrial Partner Network, whose previous members included Harting, TE Connectivity, Leoni, Murrelektronik, igus and Softing, has added Belden’s Hirschmann brand to its ranks, while the second group – now called the SPE System Alliance – has attracted several new members including Sick, Rosenberger and Microchip Technology. The Alliance already counted Phoenix Contact, Weidmüller and Fluke Networks among its supporters.

Robots help to make drive-through virus testing safer

In a matter of weeks, automation and robotics experts around the world have come up with inventive ways to use their technologies to help tackle the coronavirus epidemic, taking advantage of the fact that automation equipment is not affected by the virus and is ideal for doing repetitive tasks.

Rockwell CEO takes a 25% pay cut, but plant workers get a bonus

Rockwell Automation has announced that it is cutting the salaries of its non-manufacturing employees temporarily by 7.5%, with chairman and CEO Blake Moret taking a 25% pay cut, and all senior vice-presidents losing 15% of their salaries, as part of the steps that the company is taking “to align its costs with anticipated market conditions in light of the Cpvid-19 pandemic”. However, Rockwell’s manufacturing workers will not be affected by the pay cuts and are, in fact, receiving one-off additional payments in recognition of their work in serving the company’s customers “during this difficult time”.