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26 November, 2022

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Video service links robot users to experts via their phones

19 July, 2021

ABB has announced a service that allows users of its robots and controllers to transmit video and images of any technical problems from a smartphone to a remotely located ABB technician who can provide expert assistance. It says that the Virtual Assistance app and service will cut downtime and boost productivity.

Component and transport woes raise VSD prices by 2–5%

06 July, 2021

Prices of variable-speed drives (VSDs) have risen by 2–5% as drives manufacturers continue to battle component shortages, rising materials costs and transportation problems. The latest analysis from Interact Analysis suggests that high-performance drives, which need more powerful processors, have been hit harder than general-purpose drives which use simpler processors that are easier to source.

Hackers harness control systems to mine for crypto-coins

05 July, 2021

Hackers are using industrial control systems (ICSs) to “mine” for cryptocurrency coins, according to a new report from the cybersecurity firm, Trend Micro. It says that the coin-miners are accessing ICSs mainly through unpatched operating systems and that by hijacking the ICS CPUs, they can affect control system performance, leading to a potential loss of control, especially on systems that have low CPU capacity or are running outdated operation systems – “a setup that is not rare in industrial environments”, according to Trend.

Siemens plans to shift its software sales to the SaaS model

02 July, 2021

Siemens is planning a “fundamental transformation” of the way it sells software products, starting next year, when its Digital Industries (DI) business will start to transition a significant part of its software activities to Software as a Service (SaaS). It says that the new SaaS offerings that will give users greater accessibility, easier collaboration and unlimited scalability to help them accelerate their digital transformation.

Global robot sales fell by 2% in 2020, but China leads recovery

01 July, 2021

The number of industrial robots installed around the world fell by 2% in 2020 compared to 2019, despite a 19% growth in the number installed in China, according to preliminary figures issued by the International Federation of Robotics. The IFR describes the fall in sales during the year that the globe was gripped by the Covid-19 pandemic as “more moderate than expected”.

Industrial firms lose a day a month to machine failures

29 June, 2021

Machine failures are causing large industrial facilities to lose an average of more than a day of production (27 hours) every month, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to a new survey by the UK machine health monitoring specialist, Senseye. The study, based on interviews with maintenance, engineering and IT professionals in 72 multinational industrial and manufacturing organisations operating in 21 countries, finds that, on average, large plants lose 323 production hours a year. The cost of lost revenue, financial penalties, idle staff time and restarting lines averages $532,000 per hour, or $172m annually per plant.

Rockwell buys Plex for $2.2bn to boost its cloud activities

25 June, 2021

Rockwell Automation is buying the cloud-based manufacturing specialist Plex Systems for $2.22bn in cash, to expand its industrial cloud software offering. Rockwell says that Plex’s software capabilities will be further differentiated by Rockwell’s global market access, complementary industry expertise, and ability to turn real-time data into actionable insights

5G-enabled smart factory will be opened to others for testing

23 June, 2021

The industrial PC and HMI manufacturer Exor International has built a 5G-enabled end-to-end smart factory in Verona, Italy, as an example of the benefits that Industry 4.0 digitalisation can offer to manufacturers of all sizes. It plans to open up parts of the factory to other companies to explore how they could adopt Industry 4.0 practices using wireless communications.

Free guide lists ‘top 20’ secure PLC coding practices

16 June, 2021

The ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA) has joined forces with the German industrial IT security specialist admeritia to produce a document that provides a list of coding practices for PLC programmers designed to improve the IT security of PLCs and the plants they control.

Pandemic pushes manufacturers to adopt AI technologies

15 June, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred a significant rise in the use of AI (artificial intelligence) and other digital technologies among manufacturers around the world, according to a survey of more than 1,100 senior manufacturing executives in seven countries, conducted by Google Cloud. The study found that 76% of those quizzed have turned increasingly to technologies such as data analytics, the cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) because of the pandemic.

81% of construction companies plan to adopt robots

09 June, 2021

More than four out of five (81%) of the world’s construction companies say they are planning to introduce robots into their operations during the coming decade, partly in response to a growing skills crisis being experienced by 91% of them.

Ten vulnerabilities discovered in Codesys control software

07 June, 2021

Russian cyber-security experts have discovered ten vulnerabilities – some of them rated as critical – in the Codesys 2 industrial control software used as the basis for the firmware in controllers from 15 manufacturers, including Beckhoff, Kontron, Festo and Mitsubishi. The German-based developer, Codesys, has released a software update to fix the vulnerabilities and has issued advisory notices for the three software components affected.

Siemens PLC vulnerability is cyber-attackers’ ‘holy grail’

01 June, 2021

Cyber-researchers have found a vulnerability in Siemens’ Simatic S7-1200 and S7-1500 PLCs that could give attackers read and write access anywhere on the PLC, allowing them to execute malicious code remotely. The researchers at Claroty describe such unrestricted and undetected code execution as the “holy grail” for cyber-attackers, allowing them to hide code deep inside the PLC undetected by the operating system, or any diagnostic software.

Rockwell invests in PCB motor firm in $40m funding round

26 May, 2021

Rockwell Automation has taken an equity stake in the Texan motor developer and manufacturer, Infinitum Electric, as part of a $40m funding round that takes total funding in the company to date to $55m. Infinitum’s integrated motors, which use PCB (printed circuit board) stators instead of the copper wire and laminated iron cores of conventional motors, are claimed to be 10% more efficient, 50% lighter and smaller, and much quieter than standard motors.

Drives-maker tackles component lead times of up to two years

24 May, 2021

As the world starts to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, manufacturers around the world are having to cope with a new series of problems including shortages of critical electronic components, soaring materials costs, and severe supply-chain disruptions. Steve Brooks, director of global operations finance and procurement at the Welsh drives-maker, Nidec Control Techniques, says that together these problems are creating “the most challenging supply chain event of my career”.

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