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June 2024 industry news: new machines, anniversaries and name changes

June 24, 2024
A Control Intelligence podcast with managing editor Anna Townshend

In this episode of Control Intelligence, managing editor Anna Townshend shares machine builder and system integrator news highlights from June 2024.

Transcript

 

System integrator partnership

 
Movu Robotics has partnered with STAMH Group to expand warehouse automation solutions across central and southeastern Europe. This collaboration targets countries including Romania, Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria, offering goods-to-person intralogistics systems. STAMH, with more than 14,000 integrations in 22 countries, will leverage Movu's robotic products to enhance warehouse efficiency. The partnership aims to optimize storage space and intralogistics for both large and small facilities.
 

Anniversary and new machine

 
Murata Machinery USA marked its 50th anniversary and has launched the MSR60, a single-spindle computer numerical control (CNC) turning center with Y-axis milling capabilities. The MSR60 is designed for high-mix, low-volume production environments, integrating milling and turning functions. Key features include an 8,000 rpm live tool spindle motor, compact footprint, and optional gantry loader. The MSR60 aims to enhance efficiency by reducing the need for secondary operations and addressing labor shortages in the industry.
 

Acquisition and name change

 
E Tech Group has rebranded Automation Group, which it acquired in October 2023, under the E Tech Group name. The integration strengthens E Tech Group's presence in the food and beverage and data center industries, expanding its capabilities in virtualization, cybersecurity, automation design, networking and big data. The transition will be seamless for all clients and partners, and all existing commitments will remain in place. Chief Executive Office of E Tech Group, Matt Wise, said Automation Group’s expertise will help expand the company presence in key industries and open new avenues for collaboration and growth for current employees.
 

Workforce development

 
1. ABB has awarded $58,000 in scholarships to 16 students whose parents are employees of ABB Motor and Mechanical in the U.S. for the 2024-2025 academic year. These scholarships, valued between $3,000 and $5,000 each, support students pursuing undergraduate, vocational or technical degrees. Recipients were selected based on academic performance, extracurricular activities and community service. ABB's initiative reflects its commitment to supporting employees' families and investing in future professionals.
 
2. Phoenix Contact is collaborating with Penn State’s Digital Foundry to expose students to real-world automation equipment in an actual manufacturing environment. As a technology partner, Phoenix Contact provides equipment, technical support and educational resources to the program. The Digital Foundry is one of the Smart Manufacturing Institute’s Innovation Centers. There are a number of them throughout the U.S., building industry-specific smart manufacturing ecosystems.
 
Vice president of digitalization and government relations at Phoenix Contact, Louis Grice, said the company is proud to support partners like those at the Digital Foundry. “They make learning accessible to their community,” he said. “By doing so, they help grow the knowledge and know-how needed to put leading technologies to work."
 
3. Phoenix Contact's Think BIG program, in partnership with Foose Elementary School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, concluded with fourth graders racing solar cars. The program, which promotes STEM education, involved monthly hands-on science lessons led by Phoenix Contact employees, focusing on clean energy topics. Students designed and built windmills and solar cars, applying engineering methods to solve problems. Phoenix Contact also has some outside funding and plans to expand the Think BIG program to 15 to 20 additional schools in Central Pennsylvania.
 

Association highlights

 
1. According to Europe’s Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers Association (or VDMA,) the European machine vision industry has experienced significant growth, averaging 9% annually between 2012 and 2022. The industry saw a 4% drop in 2020 due to the pandemic, but rebounded strong in 2021 with 17% growth and 11% growth in 2022.
 
However, 2023 has been a different story. Due to current economic and geopolitical challenges, the industry saw a 7% decline last year, with further declines expected this year. VDMA is projecting a 4% decline for this year. Despite short-term setbacks, VDMA is also projecting an uptick in global demand for machine vision technologies by late 2024, driven by advancements in artificial intelligence and broader applications in automation.
 
2. VDMA also reported that the European robotics and automation industry is facing financial stress due to increased competition from Chinese companies. The industry forecasts a modest 2% sales increase to 16.5 billion euros in 2024, driven primarily by international demand amid a weak domestic economy. Chinese competitors are establishing local service and sales structures in Europe, intensifying market competition. VDMA emphasizes the need for better investment frameworks and policy measures to strengthen Germany's competitiveness in the automation sector.
 
3. PI North America is offering free, one-day Profinet training classes across various North American cities throughout the year. The sessions are designed for machine builders, system integrators, device manufacturers and end users, covering topics such as I/O connections, industrial wireless, process instrumentation and functional safety. Upcoming training sessions will be at Toronto on September 10, in Boston September 26 and in Philadelphia on October 22. The goal is to enhance understanding and implementation of the Profinet protocol industrial environments.
 
4. ArtiMinds Robotics has won an award for its robot solution in the Robotics Challenge 2024, a competition aimed at automating wire harness assemblies and the challenges involved, such as the robust handling of flexible components. The processing steps for the challenge included identifying and feeding a socket housing into a holder in the correct position, inserting various contact parts into the socket housing in accordance with a specified configuration, and ensuring that the contacts were correctly latched in the end position.
 
ArtiMinds' solution uses standard hardware (robots, cameras, grippers and force/torque sensors) and its in-house software to achieve a flexible cable assembly process with cycle times of less than 5 seconds per plugging process. The native program code generated by ArtiMinds Robot Programming Suite is executed directly on the robot controller, which allows the robot programs to be seamlessly integrated into existing standards and workflows.
 

Vendor news

 
1. Brennan Industries, which manufactures hydraulic fittings, accessories and components, has opened a new distribution facility in Mexico to support local production operations. President and CEO of Brennan Dave Carr, said the local presence in Mexico is significant. “As our customers expand their production facilities into different parts of the world, the demand for a nearby, dependable supplier becomes crucial,” Carr said. He also calls it a pivotal moment in Brennan’s evolution to be present in key marketplaces. Brennan says this expansion aligns with the company’s strategic growth, enhancing supply chain efficiency and providing reliable access to components for customers. The facility marks a significant step in Brennan’s global growth, following partnerships like the integration of UCT’s Ham-let instrumentation products and the acquisition of RHINO hose protective products.
 
2. Randy Sadler has been appointed as president and CEO of Weidmuller USA, based in Richmond, Virginia. Sadler hopes to expand the company's engineering and production capabilities in the U.S., focusing on smart industrial connectivity and Industry 4.0 products. With nearly 30 years of industry experience, Sadler previously held various positions at Weidmuller USA, including vice president of sales. His leadership is expected to drive the company’s growth and innovation in the U.S. market. A native of Richmond, Sadler earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational management from St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia.
 

Partnerships

 
1. SEW-Eurodrive and distributor and service provider Malloy Electric have launched what they’re calling the 360-degree partner program, an initiative to enhance engineering, services, and sales across the Midwest. The program emphasizes outstanding service and knowledge to support its new and existing customers. SEW-Eurodrive plans to extend this program to a select group of distributors. Malloy Electric said the collaboration aims to drive innovation, reliability and efficiency in production.
 
2. Performance Motion Devices (PMD) has partnered with electronics distributor DigiKey to expand its distribution network. DigiKey will now supply a range of PMD’s motion control products, including the Magellan, Juno, ION, Atlas and Prodigy families, to customers developing robotics and industrial automation applications. Missy Hall, vice president of new market development at DigiKey said that adding PMD motion control electronics would support a wide range of OEMs and engineering teams, and DigiKey hopes to add more PMD inventory in the future.

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