Drives and Controls Magazine
Rockwell to develop high-efficiency motor-drives with Infinitum

Rockwell Automation and Infinitum, the Texas-based creator of high-efficiency air-core motors, have signed an exclusive agreement to jointly develop and distribute a new class of high-efficiency, integrated low-voltage drive and motor technology that, they say, will “significantly” save energy and cut costs for industrial customers, while helping them to become more sustainable.

European shipping offers DigiKey buyers next-day deliveries

The US-based automation products distributor DigiKey has announced that direct shipments from European suppliers to European customers are now possible under its Marketplace programme. Shipments sent within Europe will typically arrive on the next day, rather than in a couple of days as happened before.

ABB invests $280m in European robotics hub in Sweden

ABB is investing $280m to build a new state-of-the-art ABB Robotics European Campus in Västerås, Sweden, which will serve as a robotics hub for Europe and will boost ABB’s robot production capacity by 50%. The 65,000m2 Campus, will replace an existing facility at the site and will bring together automated manufacturing, R&D, and customer experience and training centres to develop next generation AI-enabled technologies, strengthening ABB’s global leadership in robotics. It is planned to open in late 2026.

Emerson buys Swiss firm to expand into electric linear motion

Emerson has bought Afag Holding, the Swiss specialist in electric linear motion, feeding and handling automation, for an undisclosed sum. Emerson says the acquisition will enhance its factory automation capabilities and create a motion portfolio that combines Afag’s linear motion systems with its own pneumatic motion technologies. Afag will report to Emerson’s Discrete Automation business.

Rockwell buys Canadian AMR specialist Clearpath

Rockwell Automation is buying the Canadian autonomous robotics specialist Clearpath Robotics for an undisclosed sum. Rockwell believes that AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) are the next frontier in industrial automation, and predicts that the acquisition “will supercharge Rockwell’s lead in bringing the connected enterprise to life”.

US robot sales plummet by 37% in Q2 of 2023

The slow US economy and high interest rates are being blamed for a 37% drop in the number of industrial robots ordered in North America from April to July 2023, compared to same period in 2022. When combined with a fall in first quarter, the robotics market in North America was down 29% for the first half the year, with a total of 16,865 robots being ordered.

Mobile robots are driving ULV motor sales above $6bn

The burgeoning use of mobile robots will drive the market for ultra-low-voltage (ULV) motors to $6.5bn by 2027 – representing a CAGR of 12.6% between 2022 and 2027 – according to a new report from Interact Analysis. Demand for these motors, which have operating voltages below 60V, is also being driven by battery-powered applications and the requirement for more flexible manufacturing and logistics processes.

Old Rockwell had a hydroponic farm at its US headquarters

Rockwell Automation has announced plans build an automated, indoor 7,300ft2 (6,780m2) hydroponic vertical farm at its US headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the summer of 2024. It is collaborating with a US start-up Fork Farms to create the farm which will be able to produce 540,000 plants and up to 149,000lb (6,7585kg) of food annually – the equivalent of more than three acres (1.2ha) of conventional farmland.

Allied Motion becomes Allient and aims for £1bn of sales

The US-headquartered motion control specialist Allied Motion Technologies has changed its name to Allient and is aiming to almost double its revenues to more than $1bn. The company, whose headquarters are in Buffalo, New York, and employs more than 2,250 people around the world, designs and manufactures precision and specialty motion, controls and power products and systems for targeted industries and applications.

Microsoft discovers flaws that could affect 1,000s of PLCs

Cybersecurity researchers at Microsoft has discovered several “high severity” vulnerabilities in the software development kit (SDK) for the Codesys control platform which is used in around 1,000 automation devices, including PLCs from more than 500 manufacturers. Microsoft warns that exploitation of these vulnerabilities – which affect all versions of Codesys V3 before version – could put operational technology (OT) infrastructure at risk of denial-of-service (DoS) and remote code execution (RCE) attacks.

ICS cyber-threat numbers fall, but a third are unpatched

The number of “advisories” about cyber-security vulnerabilities in ICSs (industrial control systems) dropped by 9.8% in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022, but more than a third (34%) of the new vulnerabilities do not have any patch or remediation available, compared to just 13% in the first half of 2022.

Remote robot troubleshooting firm raises $4.1m

A Canadian company, Olis Robotics, has raised $4.1m to fund further development of its technology for remote monitoring, control and troubleshooting of industrial robots. The Seattle-based company says that its Olis Connect system tackles costly robot downtime, significantly improving OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) of industrial robots.

Swiss start-up uses robot microfactories to create large parts

A Swiss company has emerged from a period of stealth development to offer a new service for creating large components using technologies such as robots, 3D printing and machine vision. Lupfig-based Saeki, which was founded in 2021, has attracted $2.3m of seed funding to build automated plants that will produce large-scale components for industries such as automotive, construction, aerospace, marine and energy.

Adopting robots can cut manufacturers’ profits – at first

Installing robots can cause a company’s profit margins to fall – initially, at least – but as more are added, their margins will start to rise. This is the finding of a team of University of Cambridge researchers who analysed industrial data from the UK and 24 other European countries between 1995 and 2017.

Motion controls sales will dip before hitting $22bn by 2027

The global market for motion controls will be worth $18.9bn this year, rising to $22.2bn by 2027 – a CAGR of 4.6% – according to new data from Interact Analysis. It expects the market to fall slightly next year as a result of the decline in global economic growth, before returning to steady growth.