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2 December, 2021

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US and German groups shape future of smart production

21 April, 2021

The German Plattform Industrie 4.0 organisation is collaborating with the US national institute for smart manufacturing CESMII to map out the future of manufacturing. The two organisations are aiming to promote interoperability and a shared set of skills and competencies, and at the recent virtual Hannover Fair they presented first results of their cooperation.


Siemens links up with Google to ease use of AI in manufacturing

19 April, 2021

Siemens and Google Cloud have announced a cooperation designed to optimise factory processes and improve productivity on the shop floor. Siemens plans to integrate Google Cloud’s data cloud and AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine learning) technologies with its own factory automation systems to help manufacturers to innovate.


ODVA ends the use of ‘hurtful’ master and slave terminology

13 April, 2021

ODVA, the international automation standards organisation, has decided to stop using the terms “master” and slave” to describe the relationship between devices in industrial communications hierarchies. It says it wants to eliminate the use of “hurtful” terminology and to help create a “more inclusive” industry.


Profinet overtakes Ethernet/IP to lead networking market

13 April, 2021

After battling to dominate the global industrial networking market for several years, Profinet has now overtaken EtherNet/IP to take an 18% share of the market, compared to the 17% held by Profinet. In its annual survey of the market, the industrial networking specialist HMS Networks also finds that wireless networking’s share of global sales has soared by 24% in the past year, although it still accounts for just 7% of the total market.


Kickstarter campaign for ‘most powerful’ robot hits goal in 13h

06 April, 2021

UPDATED: A Chinese-American robotics start-up has exceeded a $50,000 target within 13 hours on the first day of Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of a what it claims will be “the world’s most powerful and affordable modular robot”. Umbratek is planning a family of five Scara and industrial robot arms with up to six axes, capable of lifting loads up to 20kg, with reaches of up to 1.5m and repeatabilities of up to ±0.01mm. It says they will cost about 70% less than their rivals.


Automation industry expects to grow by at least 10% in 2021

30 March, 2021

A survey of automation companies around the world has revealed widespread optimism, with revenues, investment in automation, and headcounts all expected to grow by more than 10% this year. The survey, conducted by Interact Analysis for the US-based Association for Advancing Automation (A3), quizzed more than 200 respondents from automation-related companies with combined revenues of more than $50bn. The majority (70.3%) were based in the Americas, with 23.6% in the EMEA region.


Downey and Gates invest in switched reluctance developer

30 March, 2021

Investment funds set up by the actor Robert Downey Jr and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and are among the latest investors in the Californian motor developer Turntide Technologies, which is producing a new generation of switched reluctance motors. The company has recently completed an $80m funding round, bringing its total funding to date to $180m.


Former Tesla head of automation promises no-code platform

29 March, 2021

Luc Leroy, former head of core automation engineering at the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, has set up a company that is aiming to produce “the first no-code automated manufacturing platform”.


PLC vulnerability can be attacked using ’low’ skill levels

02 March, 2021

Cyber-researchers have discovered a “severe” vulnerability in a mechanism that verifies communications between Rockwell Automation PLCs and engineering software. Exploiting this flaw could allow an attacker to connect remotely to almost any of Rockwell’s Logix PLCs (programmable logic controllers) – as well as its drives and safety controllers that use the Logix technology – and to upload malicious code, download information from the PLC, or install new firmware.


Efficient motors and drives ‘could hit 40% of Paris climate goals’

02 March, 2021

ABB has published a White Paper arguing that high-efficiency motors and VSDs (variable-speed drives) could by themselves achieve more than 40% of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the 2040 goals established by the Paris climate agreement. It calls on governments and industry around the world to accelerate the adoption of these technologies to help combat climate change.


Microsoft launches cloud platform for manufacturers

25 February, 2021

Microsoft has announced the launch of a cloud platform dedicated to the manufacturing sector. The computing giant says that manufacturers have been moving towards data-driven automation, IoT, machine learning and AI for years and that 2020 showed how critical those capabilities are as factory floors ground to a halt and even the most sophisticated just-in-time supply chains were impacted.


Next-gen cobots ‘will unlock automation for new sectors’

24 February, 2021

ABB has extended its portfolio of collaborative robots (cobots) with two new easy-to-program six-axis models which, it claims, set new benchmarks and are up to five times faster than others in their class. They are:


Regal and Rexnord create a power transmission giant

17 February, 2021

The US-based mechanical power transmission supplier Rexnord is merging its process and motion control (PMC) business with that of its larger rival Regal Beloit to create a new business that will adopt the Rexnord name and is expected to generate sales worth $4.5bn in 2022. The deal will take the form of a tax-free transaction known as a Reverse Morris Trust, in which Rexnord will spin off the PMC business and merge it simultaneously with Regal Beloit. It will make the PMC business worth around $3.69bn. 


Schneider joins forces with Wood to push universal automation

15 February, 2021

Schneider Electric has formed a strategic relationship with Wood, the global automation systems supplier, to help deliver its vision of “universal automation”, based on open standards. The partners will offer their clients next-generation, open automation and control technologies, promising them step-change improvements to their existing operations, and simplifying future upgrades.


Nidec buys Mitsubishi gear-making machinery business

08 February, 2021

The Japanese electric motor and drives manufacturer Nidec is buying Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ machine tools business for a reported 30 billion yen ($285m). The business, which manufactures machine tools, cutting tools and related products, is the Japanese market-leader in gear cutting and grinding machinery, with about 60% of the market, and has manufacturing operations in in China, the US and India, as well as in Japan.


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