Drives & Controls January 2024

VARIABLE-SPEED DRIVES: Our annual round-up of VSDs and their applications GEARS AND GEARBOXES: What do hypoid gearboxes o er to industrial users? PRINTING AND PAPER: A Spanish printing machine builder opts for Chinese controls Drives&Controls JANUARY 2024 #1 ENGINEERING MAGAZINE FOR AUTOMATION, POWER TRANSMISSION AND MOTION CONTROL INSIDE — Better performance. Less energy Introducing the ACS880 drive

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50 CONTENTS n Drives & Controls is a controlled circulation publication. If you live in the UK and want to subscribe phone 0333 577 0801 or fax 0845 604 2327. Alternatively for both UK and overseas subscriptions please subscribe online at If you have any enquiries regarding your subscription, please use these numbers. The content of this magazine, website and newsletters do not necessarily express the views of the Editor or publishers. The publishers accept no legal responsibility for loss arising from information in this publication. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be produced or stored in a retrieval system without the written consent of the publishers. Paid subscriptions UK: £110 per annum Europe: £145 per annum Rest of World: £180 per annum Printing: Warners Midlands PLC., PE10 9PH ISSN 0950 5490 Copyright: DFA Media Group 2024 NEXT ISSUE The February issue of Drives & Controls will look at what’s happening in the world of robotics and automated manufacturing, report on developments involving sensors and encoders, and bring news from the process automation and hazardous areas sectors. UPDATE 14 Comment 15 ABB Back to Basics 44 Gambica Column 46 New Products 48 Design Data and Multimedia 49 Products & Services IN DEPTH Follow us on X @DrivesnControls Drives Magazine Web site Follow us on LinkedIn @ Drives & Controls Join us on Facebook Drives & Controls Drives& Controls REGULARS DfAmedia group 38 32 26 18 5 48 DRIVES & CONTROLS January 2023 Vol 40 No 1 Editor Tony Sacks t: 01732 465367 e: Consultant Editor Andy Pye t: 07808 137312 e: Production Manager Sarah Blake t: 01233 770781 e: Operations Manager Emma Floyd t: 01732 370340 e: emma.’ Marketing Executive Hope Jepson t: 01732 370340 e: Financial Finance Department t: 01732 370340 e: ADVERTISING Sales Director Damien Oxlee t: 01732 370342 m: 07951 103754 e: Sales Manager Peter Sayer t: 01732 370341 m: 07802 583726 e: DFA Direct Ian Atkinson t: 01732 370340 e: Italy Oliver & Diego Casiraghi e: t: +39 031 261407 f: +39 031 261380 Managing Director Ryan Fuller t: 01732 370344 e: Chief Executive O•cer Ian Atkinson t: 01732 370346 e: Reader/Circulation Enquiries Perception-MPS Ltd t: 01825 701520 e: HEAD OFFICE DFA Media Group 192 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BE t: 01732 370340 f: 01732 360034 e: 5 News A round-up of the latest business and industry developments from around the world. 16 Technology Cutting-edge innovations in motion, power transmission, controls and related technologies. 26 Robots What does 2024 hold for the world of robotics and automation? A leading Šgure from the collaborative robots industry gazes into his crystal ball to o‹ers four predictions for the year ahead. 28 Variable-Speed Drives Remote VSD monitoring is helping Italian apples to keep their cool. Plus how a Chinese machine-builder has improved the reliability and performance of its sludge dewatering machines by changing their drives. And how UK-built drives are powering a 24-storey automated parking tower in India. 36 Gears and Gearboxes Hypoid gearboxes are becoming increasingly popular for transferring power and torque e”ciently. An expert looks at the key advantages that makes them attractive for a variety of applications. Plus an analyst examines trends in the global market for industrial gearboxes and geared motors over the past year. 40 Printing & Paper We report on how a Spanish manufacturer of •exographic printing machines has turned to an Chinese automation supplier for highperformance controls. And how a Finnish supplier of thermal papers has upgraded its drive controls to boost its operating e”ciency. 42 Talking Industry The last Talking Industry online panel discussion of 2023 revisited one of the series’ most popular topics: robotics and automation. Consultant editor Andy Pye, who chaired the session, reports some of the issues that were debated. 43 Southern Manufacturing The Southern Manufacturing & Electronics exhibition is returning to its Farnborough venue next month. We look at what visitors can expect to find when they attend the exhibition. 46 42 41 21,157 Average net circulation January to December 2022 44 43

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NEWS n 5 UK start-up says it can boost drive efficiencies and shrink sizes A UK POWER SEMICONDUCTOR developer is one of two winners of a competition organised by ABB to nd start-up companies that are pushing the boundaries of drives and motors technologies. Cambridgebased Quantum Power Transformation (QPT) is developing a power semiconductor technology based on gallium nitride (GaN) that, it believes, could deliver substantial energy and size savings compared to other technologies for variable-speed drives and other applications. As the joint winner of ABB’s Power Density Start-up Challenge 2023 for Motor Drive Products, QPT will collaborate with ABB in a project worth up to $30,000 with the aim of producing a commercialisation plan by the third quarter of 2024. The other winner was a Canadian company, Calogy Solutions, which is working on a low-cost technology for managing battery temperatures. QPT was established in 2019 to solve the challenges of designing with GaN transistors, and to unlock the potential of GaN to provide substantial energy savings across a wide range of electrical devices. Although GaN power semiconductors can, in theory, deliver signicant energy savings over silicon and silicon carbide (SiC), they need to operate at frequencies of up to 20Mhz to deliver these savings and high power densities. But operating at these frequencies creates electromagnetic interference, making it di—cult to achieve the benets. QPT claims it is the only company that can run GaN transistors at frequencies up to 20MHz without EMI issues or overheating, thus delivering the promised benets. “Our technology enables drives controls to be made much smaller as we achieve the best power densities and e—ciencies of any current technology by enabling GaN to be hard-switched at 1 to 2ns,”explains QPT’s founder and CEO, Rob Gwynne. “Current VSDs are bulky which means that they are invariably located away from the motor itself and then connected by copper cables that are big and heavy to cope with the hundreds of Amps or so going through them and also waste energy in the process. “QPT’s next-generation GaN technology shrinks the size of a VSD to around a twentieth of the size so that it can be integrated beside the motor,”he adds. “The need for big, costly lters that Si, SiC or slow existing GaN alternatives require and preclude easy integration, is also eliminated, further reducing the overall size which further helps integration.” QPT says that it has already developed patented techniques for operating VSDs at PWM (pulse width modulation) switching frequencies of up to 2MHz, providing switching speeds of 12ns without any EMC issues. (Silicon and SiC transistors, by comparison, typically switch at 2050ns.) The result is up to 80% less energy wastage in chopping processes compared to existing VSD designs. QPT adds that its future products will switch even faster. The rst generation has been designed to work with existing motor control chips which cannot operate faster than 2MHz. Drivesmakers can replace existing silicon or SiC power stages with QPT’s GaN-based power modules to make their VSDs more e—cient. Another advantage that QPT claims for its technology is that unlike conventional VSDs, whose e—ciency of around 97% drops o£ “rapidly”with speed, GaN-based VSDs have an e—ciency of around 99% which hardly decreases with speed. At half-speed, traditional VSDs are typically 95% e—cient, at quarter-speed 93% e—cient, and at eighth-speed 88% e—cient. QPT suggests that its technology could produce integrated motors rated at around 75kW, which would allow energy to be recaptured through regenerative braking. The company envisages other applications including robots, servodrives, welding systems, as well as HVAC systems and EVs. In servo applications, for example, GaN modules could boost productivity because they settle faster, allowing more moves to be achieved per hour. QPT has recently opened a funding round on Crowdcube with the aim of raising £500,000 ( -access/qpt). A pioneer of GaN technology, Geo£ Haynes, who co-founded GaN Systems, is the lead investor for the round. January 2024 VOLVO CARS is buying more than 1,300 robots and functional packages from ABB to build its next generation of electric vehicles. The robots, which will be deployed at sites in Sweden and China, will help the car-maker to achieve its sustainability targets by cutting its energy consumption by up to 20% through the use of regenerative braking on the robots, and e—cient power electronics in their controllers. This deal includes the supply of ready-touse functional packages for tasks such as spot-welding, riveting, dispensing, ¦ow drilling and ultrasonic weld inspection. To ensure that production is not interrupted while the robots are being deployed, ABB will use its RobotStudio planning and programming software to visualise and optimise the installations before the robots are installed. By developing and validating the automation systems virtually, Volvo and ABB will create systems that can be engineered once but deployed many times. “The automotive industry’s historic transformation, driven by increasing consumer demand for EVs and a desire to operate more sustainably, is creating new opportunities as well as challenges,”says ABB Robotics president, Marc Segura.“Through our new, energy-e—cient large robot family and OmniCore controllers we will help Volvo Cars to deliver energy savings of up to 20%.” 1,300 robots will help Volvo to cut its energy use by 20% QPT founder and CEO, Rob Gwynne, with one of the company’s GaN modules

n NEWS January 2024 6 ABB HAS ANALYSED THE performance of more than 2,000 industrial electric motors in a variety of applications and found that their energy use could be cut by an average of 31% by upgrading them or using better controls. The potential energy savings equate to more than 2.1TWh across the 20-year lifetime of these systems – equivalent to the energy used each year by 1.25 million typical homes in the EU (which consume, on average, 1670kWh/year). ABB estimates that if all of these motors – which it audited from June to September last year under its Energy Appraisals scheme – were operating in Germany, the savings would be enough to o’set the emissions of a coal plant for two months saving 940,000 tonnes of CO2 and delivering a ROI (return on investment) of just three months. The energy appraisals scheme pinpoints the biggest energy savings in šeets of motor-driven systems. Operational data is gathered from motordriven systems in the ›eld, and is compared with the theoretical performance that could be achieved by adding a VSD (variable-speed drive), or resizing or modernising the equipment. The motors audited in the survey included lowand medium-voltage machines in applications such as pumps and fans in industries including food and beverage, chemical processing, and HVAC. The appraisals revealed consistent performance patterns for di’erent types of motordriven applications, with fans typically o’ering the largest energy savings. “Finding an average of 31% energy savings across 2,000 motors shows that electric motordriven systems are a great untapped opportunity to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon society,” says Erich Labuda, president of ABB’s Motion Services business. Survey of 2,000 motors shows their energy use could be cut by 31% pSchneider Electric has announced a technology collaboration with the Israeli AI chipmaker Hailo Technologies, to integrate Hailo’s processors into future automation systems. The Hailo-8 processors can perform up to 26 tera-operations per second, supporting advanced machine-learning applications, as well as precision real-time data analysis at the edge. Objects in pick-and-place applications could be detected six times faster than using CPUs, while classi cation processes for quality control could run 20 times faster. pMitsubishi Electric has formed a joint venture with Visual Components, a Finnish specialist in 3D manufacturing simulation, to develop and sell 3D simulators for manufacturing applications. The JV, called ME Industrial Simulation Software Corporation, which will have its headquarters in Japan and a development site in Finland. p A survey by has revealed that US automation professionals with less than two years of experience now earn an average of $123,402 (£97,424). This has shot up from $67,500 (£53,290) in 2020. Those with 3-5 years of experience earned $124,669 (£98,424) in 2023, compared to $99,500 (£78,553) in 2020. The survey also reveals that 14.8% of the 1,243 respondents won pay rises of 11% or more in 2023, while 14% got no pay rise at all. p The Japanese robotic automation specialist Mujin has opened its rst European o™ce, in the Netherlands. It says this represents a pivotal step in its global expansion, driven by an $85m Series C funding round. Mujin’s robotic systems including random palletising, depalletising and bin-picking technologies. The European operation will be led by CEO Lukasz Drewnowski, who previously worked for ABB Robotics in Poland, China and the UK. pRS has chosen Siemens Digital Industries Software to supply design automation software for its new, cloud-native, DesignSpark Circuit Simulator tool. RS will use Siemens PartQuest cloud-based circuit simulation tool – which supports analogue, digital, and mixed-signal designs – to design, model, simulate and analyse electronic and mechatronic systems for the 1.3mmember DesignSpark community. NEWS BRIEFS THE BRITISH ELECTRIC motor developer Advanced Electric Machines (AEM) has secured £23m of new investment which it will use to scale up production, establish a global sales operation, and boost its R&D capabilities. Washington-based AEM’s motors avoid the need for rare-earth metals, thus cutting costs and the reliance on supplies of the metals from China. The motors are also designed to be recyclable with low environmental footprints. AEM claims that its motors are more e™cient than permanent magnet machines. Instead of PMs or induction designs, it uses steel rotors which, it says, are more sustainable to produce and easier to recycle, as well as being more power-dense. AEM was founded in 2017 as a spin-out from Newcastle University, led by CEO, Dr James Widmer, and CTO, Dr Andy Steven. The company’s vision is to design and build the world’s most sustainable motors for the automotive and transport sectors. Although AEM is developing its motors primarily for the automotive sector, they could also have applications in industry and the railway sector. The company’s HDSRM motor, designed for commercial vehicles, is already being used in vehicles produced in the UK, Europe, North America and the Asia-Paci c region. AEM’s technologies are covered by 46 international patents that protect its motor designs and manufacturing processes. For example, a patented high-speed rotor design delivers high torque densities and e™ciencies, and can reach speeds of 30,000 rpm. A compressed coil technology increases power densities by up to 30% by replacing copper windings with recyclable aluminium, while a single-speed, two-stage, high-reduction transmission system delivers a wide speed range, low masses, high e™ciencies and low noise levels. By removing copper, the motors will be recyclable. Historically, engineers attempting to develop alternatives to rare-earth PM motors have struggled to match their performance. AEM claims its technology overcomes these challenges. The new Series A funding will allow AEM to: n scale up production, creating 40 new skilled jobs over the next two years; nestablish a global sales and service operation; naccelerate the development of its SSRD highspeed motor; and nbolster its R&D capabilities to put copper-free motors into production, moving it closer to its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable motor manufacturer. Substantial energy and monetary savings are possible by adopting high-e™ciency technologies such as UK developer of rare-earth-free motors wins £23m of funding

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January 2024 8 Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2024 6-8 February, 2024 Farnborough The annual regional event is aimed at people involved in design, engineering production and procurement. They can see the latest in production hardware, components, consumables and other technologies. The organisers expect around 800 exhibitors and 9,000 visitors. Hannover Messe 22-26 April, 2024 Hannover, Germany The industrial megashow returns bringing together exhibitors from digital industries, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and the energy sector. Key topics will include Industry 4.0/Manufacturing-X, digitisation, AI and machine learning. The fair will include a Research and Innovation Summit for the ‡rst time. The partner country is Norway. Talking Industry Live 30 April, 2024 Location: MTC, Coventry, UK Building on the foundations laid at the inaugural event in 2023, TI Live will provide delegates from the manufacturing and engineering sector with an opportunity to learn, grow and connect in a high-end environment. talking-industry-live Drives & Controls 4-6 June, 2024 NEC, Birmingham Now part of Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week, the Drives & Controls show will run alongside other events including Air-Tech, Fluid Power & Systems, Maintec, Smart Factory Expo and Design & Engineering Expo. It will cover areas including industrial automation, energy e˜ciency, machine safety, drives, motion controls, power transmission and robotics. drives-controls-expo-home Smart Manufacturing & Engineering Week 5-6 June, 2024 NEC, Birmingham The event will include the Maintec, Smart Factory Expo and Design & Engineering Expo shows and will run alongside Drives & Controls, AirTech, Fluid Power & Systems. The organisers say the “Festival of Industrial Innovation” represents the future of manufacturing and engineering in the UK. As well as the exhibitions there will be conferences and summits. n NEWS THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced plans to expand the Made Smarter Adoption programme to the whole of the UK as part of its newly-announced £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing. The programme helps small and mediumsized manufacturers to use digital technologies. Since it launched in 2018, it has helped more than 2,500 manufacturers in limited regions of England, through grant funding, technology advice and skills training. Now the government is planning to expand the scheme to other parts of England in 2025-26, before working with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to explore making the programme UK-wide from 2026-27. Stephen Phipson, CEO of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, has welcomed the move. “Make UK has long campaigned for Made Smarter to be a fully national scheme so that all SME manufacturers can benefit from the expertise the programme delivers and we are delighted at today’s decision from government to commit to a national rollout. “Made Smarter has already transformed thousands of companies in the North East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire & the Humber and now it can help turbocharge industrial digitalisation in SMEs across the whole of the country,” he adds. “The endto-end specialist support the programme delivers has successfully helped smaller businesses to dramatically boost productivity, improve energy efficiency, drive growth, upskill roles and deliver new jobs in digital skills to create workforces of the future which will allow Britain’s smaller manufacturers to continue to grow and remain globally competitive.” The plans to expand Made Smarter are part of £4.5bn of funding for British manufacturing to boost economic growth announced by the Government. This will be targeted at eight sectors it regards as being key to economic growth, energy security, and levelling-up. They include automotive, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy. The funding will be available for five years from 2025, providing industry with longer term certainty. More than £2bn has been earmarked for the automotive sector and £975m for aerospace, supporting production, development and supply chains for zeroemission vehicles, and investment in efficient and zero-carbon aircraft. The government has also committed £960m to a Green Industries Growth Accelerator for clean energy manufacturing, and £520m for life sciences manufacturing. The government says it is targeting the funds at what it regards as the UK’s strongest sectors, including those where the industry is undergoing fundamental changes to remain at the forefront of the global transition to netzero emissions. Announcing the £4.5bn programme, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said: “Britain is now the eighth-largest manufacturer in the world, recently overtaking France. To build on this success, we are targeting funding to support the sectors where the UK is or could be worldleading. Our £4.5bn of funding will leverage many times that from the private sector, and in turn will grow our economy, creating more skilled, higher-paid jobs in new industries that will be built to last.” The UK manufacturing sector accounts for more than 43% of all UK exports and employs around 2.6 million people. Made Smarter to go UK-wide in £4.5bn manufacturing plan Hunt: the £4.5bn investment will create skilled, higher-paid jobs in new industries that will be built to last

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n NEWS January 2024 10 A GLOBAL POLL OF 1,100 IT and OT (operational technology) security professionals working in the industrial sector has found that 75% of them were targets of ransomware attacks in the past year. The poll, conducted for the cybersecurity ‚rm Claroty, also found that 69% of the targeted organisations had paid the ransom, and that more than half (54%) of those who paid had su‡ered ‚nancial rami‚cations worth $100,000 or more. Claroty has published the ‚ndings in a report, The Global State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2023: New Technologies, Persistent Threats, and Maturing Defenses. Some 500 of those quizzed were from North America, 250 from the EMEA region, 250 from Asia-Paci‚c and 100 from Latin America. The study shows that the impact of ransomware attacks on OT environments is catching up on that on IT environments. In a previous survey in 2021, Claroty found that 32% of ransomware attacks a‡ected IT only, while 27% a‡ected both IT and OT. Today, 21% impact IT alone, while 37% a‡ect both IT and OT. Claroty says that this trend reveals an expanding attack “surface area”, and an increased risk of operational disruption coming from the convergence of OT with IT. The increased threats and ‚nancial losses come as new technologies are being integrated into OT environments. For example, 61% of respondents are now using security tools that use generative AI and an 47% say that this has raised their security worries. The respondents report a high demand for cyber-insurance, with 80% of organisations having paid for cyberinsurance policies and about half (49%) having opted for policies providing $500,000 or more of coverage. “Our study shows that there is clearly no shortage of challenges facing OT security professionals, but we also found tremendous room for opportunity and appetite to mature security posture across industrial environments,” says Claroty CEO, Yaniv Vardi. “Organisations are already working to bolster their risk assessment, vulnerability management and network segmentation practices, in order to be highly proactive in their defence of cyberphysical systems.” 75% of industrial businesses hit by ransomware attacks in past year YASKAWA, THE JAPANESE manufacturer of drives, motion controls and robotics, is moving to a new 35,000ft2 (3,250m2) UK headquarters and manufacturing facility in Sunderland. The site, at Hillthorn Park, is next to Nissan UK and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park. A key motivator for choosing the site has been the presence of electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers in the area. “Being close to customers is extremely important to us and this move binds perfectly with that, putting us right at the heart of one of the UK’s largest manufacturing clusters and some of the biggest names in EV development and production,” says Yaskawa UK’s managing director, David Walsh. “We also have plans to continue growing our headcount over the course of the next year and this will give us the space required to enable that, as well as ensuring we can continue to tap into the region’s rich talent pool of skilled workers. “As a newly built facility, it is far more environmentally friendly than our previous sites,”Walsh adds. “It’s a real vote of con‚dence from our HQ for our business plans not only in the North East but the UK as a whole, and we can’t wait until next Spring when we can move in.” Yaskawa has been supported in its move by Sunderland City Council. Yaskawa currently manufactures drives and motion products in Cumbernauld, Scotland, while 80% of its robots for the European market are produced at a plant in Slovenia. Yaskawa’s UK headquarters were previously in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. Yaskawa moves its UK HQ to EV hotspot in Sunderland David Walsh, managing director at Yaskawa UK (right) with Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, outside the company’s new UK HQ building

n NEWS January 2024 12 THE SWEDISH INDUSTRIAL COMMUNICATIONS specialist HMS Networks is buying the US-based automation supplier Red Lion Controls from its UK-based owner, Spectris Group, for $345m on a cash- and debt-free basis. The deal will strengthen HMS’ presence in North America and enable cross-selling of both HMS’ and Red Lion’s products. In the year to September, 2023, HMS and Red Lion had combined sales worth more than $420m, with an adjusted EBIT margin of around 24%. “The companies are a great match both when it comes to products, geographic presence, and cultural aspects,” says HMS CEO, Staffan Dahlström. “The combination of Red Lion’s product portfolio – which is complementary to HMS’ offering and has limited overlap – and the geographic match with Red Lion having a strong position in the attractive North American market, and HMS with its core markets in Europe, will generate good cross-selling opportunities. “Red Lion’s Access products fit well with HMS’ Anybus and Ewon product lines, while Red Lion’s Connect offering adds what HMS has been searching for several years – a strong Ethernet switch offer with a strong market position,” he adds. “Finally, Red Lion’s Visualize offering brings new opportunities for HMS to explore the data visualisation offering that is becoming more and more interesting with its central role in the industrial automation environment and its ability to provide additional value on top of HMS’ connectivity and network offering.” HMS is planning to develop products and offers specifically for the North American market. Currently, about 60% of HMS’ sales are to automation markets in Europe, while most of Red Lion’s sales are in North America. After the acquisition, about 45% of HMS’ sales are expected to be in Europe, about 39% in the Americas, and 16% in Asia. Red Lion employs about 400 people globally, of which around 300 are in the US. It has two development sites in the US, and one each in Germany and India, with manufacturing sites in the US and Germany. HMS employs more than 800 people and had sales worth $244m in 2022. The acquisition is due to close during the first half of 2024. HMS Networks buys Red Lion Controls to boost its US presence Marcel van Helten, CEO of Red Lion Controls (left), with Staan Dahlström, CEO of HMS Networks, after the signing ceremony The PPMA (Processing & Packaging Machinery Association) Group of Associations is changing its name to Automate UK to better represent the needs of its members and their customers. The move follows the PPMA’s publication last year of a Manifesto for Automation, which set out its goals and commitment to make the UK more productive. The PPMA was founded in 1987, and in 2009 was joined by Bara (the British Automation and Robot Association) and Ukiva (the UK Industrial Vision Association), broadening the range of automation equipment and services that it represents. As the association matures, its leaders feels that the time is right to widen its range of services. The three associations – the PPMA, Bara and Ukiva – will continue to operate, but will come under the Automate UK umbrella. “This is way more than just a name change,” says Automate UK’s CEO, Peter Williamson. “It is a fundamental shift in how our three trade associations can impact the manufacturing arena in a positive and meaningful way. “By driving industry progress, supporting growth of our members and helping users make more informed technology decisions, we are the go-to partner to help members and their clients thrive,” he adds. “And also increase productivity through investments in automation, in the increasingly competitive marketplace.” The main purpose of the renamed trade body will be to: n drive the adoption of automation technologies; n identify future talent and help upskill existing employees; n support the growth of its member companies; and n help its members and end-users to make better technology decisions. Automate UK also aims to become a lobbying organisation to put forward industry issues to government and to represent its members’ interests. “There is a clear role for government to play in the drive to a more automated manufacturing sector in the UK,” says Williamson. “We estimate that our members represent a £7bn turnover, which is why our sector should be heard in this critical area.” There are no plans to change the PPMA Show which will keep its name. Similarly, the Automation UK and Ukiva shows will retain their brands. The main short-term changes will be the new branding and an associated Web site. The trade body’s day-to-day activities will largely remain unchanged initially, but over time there will be additions to the membership oerings and activities. PPMA is reborn as Automate UK

NEWS n January 2024 13 Cressall Resistors has appointed Mike Torbitt as its new managing director, succeeding Simone Bruckner, who has led the business for more than eight years. Torbitt joined Cressall in December 2021 as head of nance and business systems, and took on the additional role of deputy managing director in October 2023. He has more than 17 years’ experience in nance and leadership roles, including a stint as UK nance director at the sporting and outdoor goods manufacturer Thule Group and roles in the automotive and manufacturing industries. The Optimal Group, consisting of Optimal Industrial Automation and Optimal Industrial Technologies, has promoted Eamonn Garry (above) to CEO and Martin Gadsby to chairman. In their new roles, the former operations director and vice-president will steer the group’s next phase of growth, focused on oŽering digital transformation to customers. Gadsby co-founded Optimal in 1987 and is moving to a more strategic position after more than 30 years as CEO and VP. Garry’s promotion re•ects his 20-year experience in industrial automation and the bio-pharmaceutical industry. A PROJECT WHICH solved frequent tripping problems at a water utility pumping station has been chosen as project of the year in the annual AEMT (Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades) awards, which were presented recently at ceremony in Coventry. The award went to MKE Engineering Group for its work at Southern Water’s Browndown pumping station, which had been experiencing frequent tripping of equipment. An energy survey revealed that the site’s three 180/355kW, two-speed pump motors, which dated back to the late 1970s, were drawing starting currents that peaked at more than 4kA. Each pump was starting about three times per hour, consuming large amounts of energy, and causing pressure surges in the pipes and inconsistent –ows to downstream treatment works. MKE solved the issues by installing IE4 motors driven by ultra-low harmonic VSDs. This cut the number of rogue trips from around 50 to six per month and the site’s power bills by more than £57,000 a year. A full list of AEMT Awards winners is on the Drives & Controls Web site. INNOVATE UK, WORKING WITH the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is investing £145m in UK innovation in a series of schemes, including £27m for the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult to lead net-zero and industrial transformation projects that support the manufacturing and construction sectors. The investments also include £45m of support for industries and dedicated hubs, institutes and centres across the UK. The investments follow the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and build on the announcement of a £4.5bn package to drive economic growth in eight key sectors of UK manufacturing, including automotive, aerospace and clean energy. The new funding includes £1.5m for the Manufacturing Technology Centre to work on technologies to identify and quantify the condition of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete in public buildings. The aim is to develop a mass-produced replacement capability. £50m will be earmarked for UK Research and Innovation’s Faraday Battery Challenge to advance the UK’s battery manufacturing capabilities, from R&D to industrialisation. This includes enhancing the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre’s development facilities, boosting its ability to commercialise new chemistries and future battery technologies, and to scale up emerging innovations. In addition, a new Advanced Materials Battery Industrialisation Centre will harnesses capabilities in the West Midlands and NorthEast to bridge the gap between laboratory research and commercial production. The funding also includes: n £50m to boost Catapult activities and capabilities in high-growth sectors, including digital and net-zero; n £20m for the Foundation Industries Sustainability Consortium, which brings together ve centres of excellence to address barriers to scaling up research for the foundation industries that are critical to achieving commercialised innovation as part of the UK’s innovation strategy; n £25m for critical infrastructure in strategic areas including AI, telecommunications, materials science and quantum technologies; n £8.8m for the OŽshore Renewable Energy Catapult to enable electrical testing of the next generation of wind turbine generators, and innovative energy storage systems; and n £4m to expand the Compound Semiconductor Application Catapult’s Future Telecoms Hub at the Bath and Bristol Science Park. “This is a welcome investment that recognises the vital role that Innovate UK and Catapults play in delivering economic growth,” says Katherine Bennett, CEO of the HVM Catapult and chair of the Catapult network. “The high-impact infrastructure investments that add up to £50m will enable Catapults to drive innovation-powered green growth across the UK, equipping supply chains with the world-leading technologies and technical skills they need.” Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee adds that the investments will enable innovative businesses to grow and deliver against some of the biggest global challenges. “These investments are part of our core domain activities across net-zero, digital and technologies, and healthy living and agriculture,” he says. “They enhance national capability through our world-leading Catapults, and will be deployed across the UK. “Innovate UK is committed to providing businesses unparalleled access and support throughout the innovation pathway,” he continues. “These investments, and the partnerships in place to deliver them, are helping to drive forward the UK’s technological and economic ambitions.” £145m cash injection aims to boost UK innovation HVM Catapult CEO Katherine Bennett: a welcome investment Pumping station upgrade wins AEMT project of the year

EU TRADE REMAINS A CHALLENGE It may be three years since the UK signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU setting out arrangements in areas such as trade in goods and services, intellectual property and public procurement. But doing business with the EU remains a problem for UK manufacturers, with 90% of them reporting that they are still finding it a challenge, according to a recent survey by the manufacturers’ organisation, Make UK. The EU is still the UK’s largest export market, with 74% of manufacturers exporting to the Union, but 64% of these exporters report that customs paperwork and border delays remain a major barrier, with logistics being an issue for over half (52%). More than a third of businesses (36%) say that demonstrating Rules of Origin of goods is difficult as they struggle to ensure that their goods meet the tariff-free rules of entry to the EU by showing they contain sufficient product of UK origin. In 2022, Britain’s manufacturing sector exported £230bn worth of goods to the EU – a 26% increase on 2021. The effects of the new arrangements on UK businesses has been varied, with one in three reporting that export volumes have increased moderately or significantly over the past two years, while 40% have experienced moderate or significant declines in exports. Accessing skilled EU workers remains a key challenge. Some 44% of UK manufacturers say that recruiting from the EU has become harder in the past three years, with the UK’s Shortage Occupation List of necessary skilled workers being slow to recognise the sector’s critical shortages. According to Make UK, British manufacturers want to see closer cooperation with the EU on business mobility to and from Europe – particularly around the arrangements for short-term working visas and where professional and technical qualifications can be recognised both in the UK and EU. Nearly four in five (77%) UK manufacturers believe that the UK and EU must collaborate to improve export procedures, customs administration and goods clearance. Greater cooperation on regulation is also required, with Make UK calling for the indefinite extension of CE marking for all UK manufactured goods. It is also calling for the Government to work with the EU to improve the TCA to make it easier to clear goods into and out of EU and UK. The organisation suggests that some UK companies are using the skills they have learned navigating the complex EU customs rules to expand into wider global markets. Nearly half (48%) of UK manufacturers now export to the US. “Since Britain left the EU,” says Make UK’s CEO, Stephen Phipson, “companies have had to deal with the new trade arrangements of the TCA merging with global disruption brought about by the Covid pandemic. Yet Britain’s manufacturers have powered through to build international trade in new markets while navigating through the minefield of challenges which still remain in trading with our closest partner, the EU.” The problems of trading with the EU will not go away unless the Government makes a concerted effort with our European partners to tackle the issues. Tony Sacks, Editor n COMMENT Are you investing in the potential of your workforce? Industry recognised courses from the BFPA Improves Safe Working Practices Increases Productivity and Performance Creates an Adaptable and Flexible Workforce BRITISH FLUID POWER ASSOCIATION Please call 01608 647900 or email Improves Company Reputation Looking to source automation, power transmission and motion engineering equipment? Drives&Controls Interactive Buyer’s Guide website

Drives&Controls & BACK TO BASICS n SPONSORED BY Have you done a winter health check? With temperatures plummeting, Liam Blackshaw, ABB’s UK product manager for LV drives, explains how you can make sure your drives are in the right condition to survive the colder months. A typical VSD (variable-speed drive) operating within its rated limits can last for many years. If anything, drives prefer cold weather to very hot weather, and modern VSDs are typically rated to operate without issue in even the most extreme temperatures typically found in the UK. That said, winter is a time of year when any unexpected downtime can be particularly inconvenient. An equipment failure in the depths of winter may mean that critical processes are more exposed to disruption, and repairs may be di cult to arrange quickly. It is therefore arguably a good time to check that you and your drives are wellprepared for whatever the British winter has in store. Drives require very little in the way of ‚eld maintenance, but failing to perform basic checks at regular intervals throughout a device’s lifetime can have a signi‚cant impact on its longevity. Start with a visual health check – speci‚cally looking at fans and ‚lters: are they blocked? Do they need replacing? Terminals can also be checked for tightness, but do not over-tighten. Drives situated near to vibrating equipment will be more likely to require attention. Everything you need to know will be in the manual. Reputable manufacturers will recommend that you carry out certain maintenance functions once a year, or after a particular number of years of service. Make sure that you follow this advice if you want to take the best care of your drives, and always make sure that the servicing is carried out either by the manufacturer or by an approved third party. Beyond that, proper drive care is more about considering the environment in which your drives operate. Are Šuctuating temperatures likely to be an issue? Dew points? Should your drives be left powered on to prevent frost? Are anti-condensation heaters functioning properly? Is the drive situated in a particularly dirty, dusty or corrosive environment? These issues will usually have relatively straightforward solutions. Reconditioning may also be an option for drives which are ageing, or operating in harsher conditions. Ensuring that scheduled maintenance is carried out is vitally important to keep your drive in the best of health. Components such as capacitors and fans have a ‚nite lifespan, and will need replacing after a certain number of years as speci‚ed by the manufacturer. If a drive is operating in harsh conditions, this may need to be more frequent. Implementing a lifecycle assessment is an easy way of ensuring that all of your drives’ maintenance needs are documented and up-to-date, and provide alerts when scheduled maintenance is required. For more information about ABB’s Life Cycle Assessment for Drives service, visit: maintenance/life-cycle-assessment Unit 3B, Lythalls Lane Industrial Estate, Lythalls Lane, Coventry CV6 6FL UNITED KINGDOM T. +44 2476 30 7722 | E.

n TECHNOLOGY January 2024 16 HEPCOMOTION HAS DEVELOPED a new guidance system for Beckhoff Automation’s XTS smart conveyor technology, which moves items along rectangular paths. By removing the XTS system’s curved segments, the new GFX-r system can handle payloads of up to 40kg. The absence of the curved motor sections allows the movers to be more powerful and to have larger mounting platforms, while maintaining their accuracy, durability and agility. Mover speeds of 4m/s and press loads of up to 1.5kN are possible. The new system also offers a repeatability of 10µm, even when moving 30kg payloads at 3m/s. With its high load-bearing capacity, the new system is expected to have a significant impact in many sectors including automotive, aerospace and logistics. It is also suitable for machine cells incorporating robots, power tools and sensors, as well as for automated assembly and inspection systems. The new system builds on a decade of cooperation between Hepco and Beckhoff on smart linear conveyors in the form of the GFX/XTS combination. In that time, there has been a major uptake of SCT (smart conveyor technology), with benefits in terms of performance, service lives and flexibility. There are already thousands of metres of GFX/XTS in use in industries including pharmaceuticals, food processing, packaging, and battery assembly. XTS uses linear motors to drive and control movers independently around a track, enabling work processes of varying durations to be combined, products to be changed on the fly, and workstations to be added or removed. Hepco's GFX guidance system provides the transport path, guiding the movers mechanically along the motor modules. It can absorb substantial forces acting on the movers, ensuring precise alignment and resistance to deflection. The new system combines Beckhoff and Hepco’s TMS (Track Management System) with the increased drive capacity of sevenand ten-pole magnet arrays from Beckhoff. By removing the curved sections, larger movers with longer magnet arrays can be used, reducing heating losses by up to 60%. TMS completes the rectangular path, transitioning movers between tracks. The GFX-r system is available in four- or six-bearing versions offering high strength and stability. It uses existing GFX/XTS parts including GFX-PRT2 straight slide hardware, base plates and motor brackets, as well as Beckhoff’s XTS motors and its TwinCat control system. Rectangular smart conveyor track can handle loads of up to 40kg WEG HAS LAUNCHED a series of AC/DC converters that support a wide range of supply voltages and current ratings, catering for both two- and four-quadrant applications. The TPD32-EV-FC converters “oŸer a versatile solution for motor control to meet the technological demands of a vast range of sectors, for improved e¡ciency and exceptional performance,” says WEG Automation Europe product manager, Karim Boudaoud. Originally developed for DC motor control, the converters can also be used for applications involving highly inductive loads, such as electromagnets, chokes, synchronous motor excitation circuits, and electrolysis. For example, they can be used in hydrogen production plants which use electrolysers to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules from water by passing a current between two electrodes immersed in the water. The thyristor-based converters ensure precise control of the DC current or voltage supplies, enhancing the system’s e¡ciency and reliability. The converters can also provide harmonic mitigation. By con¤guring the system in a 12-pulse parallel or series setup with dual controls (master and slave) and double thyristor bridges, total harmonic distortion (THDi) can be reduced from 35% to 11%. The converters oŸer precise DC current or voltage control for smooth, e¡cient operation. They have adjustable output currents and are available in a variety of motor ratings and power settings, with a wide range of DC output voltages and currents. The TPD32-EV can be controlled and programmed from a PC using the WEG_eXpress con¤gurator, and monitored using the WEG_Softscope tool. These intuitive tools allow remote operation and performance optimisation. The new smart conveyor technology moves production items between workstations along rectangular paths WEG’s AC/DC converters have a variety of applications including DC motor control Versatile AC/DC converters provide DC motor control and more