Drives and Controls Magazine
Cognex sells surface inspection business to Ametek for $160m

Cognex is selling its Surface Inspection Systems Division (SISD) to Ametek for around $160m in cash. California-based SISD produces software-enabled vision systems used to inspect the surfaces of continuously processed materials for flaws and defects. Its sales last year were worth $60m, or 12% of Cognex’s total revenue.

German pair ‘re-invents’ servodrive cable assemblies

The German cable manufacturer Lapp and the connector-maker Intercontec have joined forces to “re-invent” servodrive cable assemblies with a new range that, they say, will support all common drives. Lapp has set up an automated facility at its Stuttgart plant to produce the Ölflex Connect Servo assemblies, and this will be followed by similar facilities in Asia and North America to serve the global market.

Rockwell chooses Donato to lead its European operation

Rockwell Automation has appointed Thomas Donato to be president of its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, succeeding Hedwig Maes who has occupied the position since 2008.

ABB is ‘first global robot-maker to manufacture in US’

ABB has opened a robotics manufacturing plant in the US which, it says, makes it the first global industrial robotics company to manufacture in North America. The plant – at an existing facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan which already employs around 500 people ­– is ABB’s third robotics production facility, and joins existing plants in China and Sweden. It will manufacture ABB robots and related equipment for the North American market. Production will start immediately.

Teradyne buys Denmark’s Universal Robots for $285m

The US automated test equipment specialist Teradyne is buying the Danish collaborative robotics pioneer Universal Robots for $285m in cash, plus $65m if certain performance targets are met in the period to 2018. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval.

Merged Danfoss-Vacon business sets its sights on ABB

The newly-combined Danfoss and Vacon drives business has set its sights on overtaking ABB to become the leader of the global drives market. Speaking at the recent Hannover Fair, Vesa Laisi, president of Danfoss Drives – the merged business formed following Danfoss’ €1bn acquisition of Vacon last year – said that the new business is “not too far” behind ABB.

Automation sales will grow in 2015, despite headwinds

The global market for industrial automation equipment (IAE) will continue to grow during 2015, but at a slower rate than before, as a result of the low oil and commodity prices and weakened demand from some developing economies. A research note issued by the analyst IHS suggests that these factors will dampen revenue growth by about 1–2% this year, resulting in a growth rate of 4.5% above 2014 levels.

OPC and EtherCat agree to link their systems

The OPC Foundation and the EtherCat Technology Group (ETG) have agreed to develop open interfaces between their technologies. At the recent Hannover Fair, OPC Foundation president Tom Burke and ETG executive director Martin Rostan signed a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to co-operate on developing these interfaces, rather than each developing technology extensions into the other’s core areas.

ABB buys Gomtec to boost its collaborative robotics drive

ABB has acquired the German robotics specialist Gomtec to expand its offering in the field of collaborative robots. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

55% of torque and linear motor sales go to three sectors

China is the world’s biggest market for linear and torque motors, due to the rapid growth of its high-tech industries. A new report from IHS Technology points out that China is strong in the semiconductor equipment, machine tool, and electronic assembly and flat-panel display sectors which, together, accounted for more than 55% of the global market for linear and torque motors in 2014.

Exporters of machines using HF VSDs could face jail

The drives-maker Control Techniques is warning that new European legislation covering the export of high-frequency (HF) drives could result in hefty penalties, including potential prison sentences for machine-builders and system integrators.

Robot sales soar by 27% to top 200,000 for the first time

More than 200,000 industrial robots were sold globally for the first time in 2014, according to new figures released by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). More than 60% of the sales were in just two countries – China and South Korea, which together bought about 140,000 robots.

$30m US plant will manufacture low-voltage products

ABB is investing $30m to build a new manufacturing plant in the US that will produce low-voltage products, including circuit-breakers, soft-starters, switches and power distribution systems. The investment in the new 11,000m2 plant – located near Memphis, Tennessee – will initially create more than 200 jobs, with a further 100 jobs expected to be added over the coming five years.

Global sales of motion control products grew by 9% in 2014

Global shipments of motion control products grew by 9% in 2014 to exceed $3bn, according to figures released by the Motion Control Association (MCA). But the MCA’s most recent survey of motion control manufacturers reveals that 72% of them believe that shipments of motion control products will remain flat in the first half of 2015, with just 27% expecting the market to expand further, and 1% forecasting a decline.

Merkel sees Industry 4.0 in action at German PLC plant

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited a Siemens factory where the company is introducing elements of Industry 4.0 into the manufacturing of PLCs (programmable logic controllers).