Drives and Controls Magazine
ABB makes digital services free to help maintain production

ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation business has announced that it will make key software services available free-of-charge to its customers until the end of 2020, to help them keep production lines going and to continue to function while many of their staff are working from home.

German Automatica show is postponed to December

The Automatica exhibition, which was due to take place in Munich in June, has been postponed until 8–11 December, at the same venue.

Hannover Fair is now cancelled, not postponed

The organisers of the Hannover Fair have now cancelled the 2020 event after the regional government issued a decree prohibiting the staging of the world’s biggest industrial trade show in the light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

GE offers free remote software to engineers working from home

GE Digital is offering free Web-based remote monitoring and control licences to users of its industrial HMI/Scada software, allowing them to work remotely to ensure business continuity if they having to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The 90-day licences will be available to the 20,000 automation software customers that use GE’s iFix and Cimplicity products.

ABB forms AI partnership to create e-commerce robots

ABB has formed a partnership with an American AI (artificial intelligence) start-up called Covariant, to bring AI-enabled robotics technologies to market, starting with autonomous systems for fulfilling warehouse orders. Their joint vision is to develop and offer AI-enabled robots that will work alongside humans in dynamic environments, learning and improving as they perform their tasks.

Nidec invests billions to become global leader in EV motors

The Japanese motor-maker Nidec has announced ambitious plans that, it hopes, will make it the global leader in motors and drivetrains for electric vehicles. It is investing around 200bn yen ($1.87bn) in three new plants in China, Poland and Mexico, which will have a combined output of around 10 million EV drives per year, with aim of catapulting its global market share from 4% at present to 35% within a decade.

Industrial cyber-threat warnings soared in 2019

The number of “advisories” about control system cyber-threats issued by the US government’s ICS-Cert (Industrial Control Systems Cyber-Emergency Response Team) service rose to set a new record in 2019, with 129 being issued – 53% more than in 2018.

Hannover Fair is postposed in response to Coronavirus

The organisers of the world’s largest industrial exhibition, the Hannover Fair, have decided to postpone this year’s event from 20–24 April to 13–17 July, in response to the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Deutsche Messe made the decision in cooperation with the Hannover Region Health Authority, the event’s Exhibitors' Council and its partner associations, VDMA (German Engineering Federation) and ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association).

Rockwell buys Italy’s Asem and US-based Kalypso

Rockwell Automation is buying Asem, the Italian manufacturer of industrial PCs, HMIs and industrial software, for an undisclosed sum. The transaction includes the purchase of a minority (25%) interest in Asem held by the German KEB Group. Rockwell plans to maintain Asem’s strategic supplier and technology partner relationship with KEB after the deal closes.

Ransomware targets industrial control systems

Researchers at the cyber-security firm Dragos have discovered a new form of ransomware that they think is the first to specifically target industrial controls systems (ICSs). Called Ekans, the malware is designed to terminate certain ICS processes, shutting them down until a ransom is paid.

Atlas Copco offers €1.09bn for Isra to enter machine vision

The Swedish industrial group Atlas Copco has launched a €1.09bn ($1.19m) cash bid for the German machine vision manufacturer Isra Vision, with the approval of Isra’s founder and CEO, Enis Ersü. Isra will keep its brand name and its headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, and will become the nucleus for a new machine vision division within Atlas Copco’s Industrial Technique business, which focuses on industrial automation systems, quality assurance products and industrial software.

‘World’s first robot employment agency’ will cut capital costs

A “robot employment agency” which will rent industrial robots to companies by the hour, or charge a “salary” based on the completion of tasks, has been set up as a joint venture between an Israeli developer of autonomous robots, called SixAI, and a Japanese affiliate of Honda, called Musashi Seimitsu. They say that their “unique” business model will give industrial users the option to source robotic labour without the significant capital costs of having to buy new robots.

Knowledge base will help to prepare for ICS cyber-attacks

A US organisation has compiled a knowledge base of the techniques that cyber-criminals use when attacking industrial control systems (ICSs). The impacts from these attacks can range from disrupting operations to harming human life and the environment.

$36m Danish project will create ‘world’s biggest cobot hub’

Universal Robots (UR) and Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) have acquired a 50,000m2 site in Odense, Denmark, where – with the financial backing of their joint US parent company, Teradyne – they are planning to invest $36m to build “the world’s largest hub for collaborative robots (cobots)”.

Real-time platform links buyers and sellers of used plant

A Californian start-up that matches buyers and sellers of used manufacturing equipment around the world, has attracted $2.4m of seed funding as part of an expansion drive, especially into Asia. San Francisco-headquartered Moov has developed a real-time technology that, it claims, reduces transaction times from weeks to days, and eliminates inaccurate and outdated listings that plague the sector.