Drives and Controls Magazine
SPS expects 1,100 exhibitors after three-year absence

The SPS (Smart Production Solutions) automation megashow will return to its Nuremberg venue in Germany in November for its first physical show since 2019, with the organisers hoping to attract around 1,100 exhibitors, compared to the 1,585 in 2019. Last year, the exhibition had to be cancelled at the last minute because of soaring Covid rates in Bavaria.

Smart linear conveyor system sales will hit $1bn by 2026

The global market for “smart” production line conveyor systems – both linear and planar – is outpacing the general manufacturing and machinery market and will expand from $300m in 2021 to almost $1bn by 2026, according to new research by Interact Analysis. Sales grew by 27% in 2021 and are likely to expand by a further 36% this year, it reports. Over the period 2021-206, it expects the linear market to achieve a CAGR of 26.5%.

Firms plan to invest in automation, but training is lagging

An ABB survey of business leaders in Europe and the US has revealed that most are planning to invest in automation and to re-shore their manufacturing operations in the next few years. But another survey, also conducted by ABB, has discovered a lack of investment in the education and training needed to develop the skills needed for the increasingly automated and connected workplaces of the future.

Timken buys GGB Bearings from EnPro for $305m

The Timken Company is buying the metal-polymer plain bearings producer GGB Bearing Technology from EnPro Industries for $305m in cash. Timken says that GGB’s expertise in plain bearing coatings complements its own strong positions in roller and ball bearings. GGB's products are used mainly in industrial applications, including pumps and compressors, HVAC, off-highway, energy, material handling and aerospace.

€50m centre will include flexible motor production plant

Schaeffler is investing €50m in a new centre of excellence for electrified mobility at its Automotive Technologies headquarters in Bühl, Germany. The new complex will consist of two buildings connected by a bridge. It will cover a floor area of 15,000m2, providing space for around 400 employees to work collaboratively on customer projects and develop new systems for electric powertrains.

Magnax raises €20m to boost development of axial-flux motors

The Belgian axial-flux motor developer Magnax has raised a further €20m of funding which it plans to use to accelerate product development, expand its engineering team, and enhance support for its customers and partners. The latest funding, from two new investors, brings the total capital raised by Magnax to date to €36m.

‘Tripadvisor for industrial technology’ attracts €1m of funds

A Belgian start-up which calls itself the “Tripadvisor for industrial technology” has attracted €1m of capital from three investment funds to help roll out its online review site for industrial automation equipment. Called Qviro, the search platform helps industrial users to make informed purchasing decisions based on reviews from other users.

Distribution centre is one of the largest warehouses in US

Digi-Key Electronics, the US-based distributor which claims to offer the world’s largest selection of automation products and electronic components in stock for immediate shipment, has opened an 2.2 million square feet (204,000m2) expansion to its Product Distribution Centre, taking its total area to more than 3 million square feet (278,000m2). The $400m facility – one of the 10 largest warehouses in North America – will allow the company to pick, pack and ship nearly three times its previous daily average of 27,000 packages to customers in more than 180 countries around the world.

ABB buys Siemens’ LV Nema motors arm to boost growth

ABB has agreed to buy Siemens’ low-voltage Nema motors operation for an undisclosed sum. The business, which has manufacturing operations in Guadalajara, Mexico, produces motors mainly for the North America market. It employs about 600 people and last year generated revenues of around $63m.

Motion control sales rose by 21.6% in 2021, and prices too

The global market for motion controls – including servomotors, drives and controls – expanded by 21.6% during 2021 and will grow by a further 9.1% in 2022, according new research by Interact Analysis. This growth will continue until 2026, but at a slower pace, with a CAGR of 5.5%, according to Interact.

WEG buys Gefran drives for €23m to boost EU capacity

The Brazilian motion engineering and automation company WEG is buying the Motion Control business of the Italian automation and sensors manufacturer Gefran for around €23m.

Sick-Aeva deal brings 4D Lidar sensing to industrial apps

The German sensor-maker Sick has entered a multi-year collaboration with the US-based sensing technology specialist Aeva to bring its 4D Lidar technology to industrial sensing applications including long-range position and velocity sensing. The Aeries II technology is predicted to boost the reliability and efficiency of 3D measurements in demanding applications.

Soaring steel costs are hitting motor prices and lead times

Mushrooming demand for electrical steels for use in EV (electric vehicle) motors is pushing up prices and lengthening lead times for industrial and commercial motors, a market analyst is warning. The price of cold-rolled electrical steels – which represent about 20% of the material costs of a motor – has soared by more by 400% since January 2016, according to Interact Analysis. This has contributed to a 35-40% increase in the average selling price of motors since January 2020 and further rises could be on the way.

€23.5m motors factory in Portugal will include test lab

The Brazilian motor manufacturer, WEG, has revealed more details of the new factory that it is building in Portugal at a cost of €23.5m, which will double the size of its manufacturing operation in the town of Santo Tirso. The factory, due to be fully operational by 2024, will boost WEG’s workforce by 100 people, as well as creating what WEG is calling “Europe’s most complete testing laboratory” for MV (medium voltage) and HV (high voltage) motors and drives.

Schaeffler buys Ewellix for €582m, to boost its linear range

Schaeffler is buying the Ewellix Group – formerly SKF’s linear technology arm – for around €582m. This amount does not include transaction costs, nor Ewellix’s net debt of around €120m which Schaeffler will take on.