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February News in Brief

01 February, 2008

º  Austria’s B&R has signed a ten-year deal with Alstom Power Control Systems to supply automation and control systems for all of Alstom’s power plants. Alstom has already integrated B&R systems that use the Ethernet Powerlink real-time communications protocol, with its own Alspa P320 process control system, and has developed a redundant control system based on B&R bus controllers. Alstom claims to supply about a third of the world’s power generation systems.

º  The market for electric drives in the European food and beverage industry will grow from $260m in 2006 to $413m by 2013, says the market analyst, Frost & Sullivan. It adds that fierce competition is forcing down drive prices, eroding suppliers’ profit margins.

º  The Swedish communications specialist HMS Industrial Networks has won its largest-ever contract, to supply an unnamed global drives manufacturer with communications interfaces for a new generation of drives. Previously, the drives-maker has developed its communications systems in-house but, says HMS, out-sourcing the technology will allow it to support more networks and to cut its costs. The contract is could be worth more than £800,000 a year to HMS when the drives are in full production.

º  The Colfax Corporation has bought Pennsylvania-based Fairmount Automation, which produces programmable automation controllers, and develops custom control algorithms and software for machinery automation and process control. Fairmount, founded in 1996, specialises in military applications and claims that its products are installed on more than 30% of the US naval fleet.

º  Bentley Systems has acquired ECT International which produces the promis•e range of computer-aided engineering design tools for electrical control systems. The software, which generates schematics and documentation, is said to cut electrical design time by 30%.

º  The European Commission has approved plans by the world’s largest electrical distributor, Rexel of France, to buy most of its Dutch rival, Hagemeyer for around €3.1bn. The approval is conditional on Rexel selling Hagemeyer’s wholesale distribution business in Ireland.

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