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Rockwell buys ‘disruptive’ machine motion technology

12 November, 2013

Rockwell Automation is buying Jacobs Automation, a US high-tech manufacturer that has developed an “intelligent” track-based motion control technology for use in machines. Details of the deal have not been released.

The acquisition follows an earlier collaboration between Rockwell and Jacobs involving the motion control system called iTrak which is designed to improve the performance of packaging, materials-handling and other applications for machine-builders.

The technology, based on a linear synchronous motor, provides independent control of multiple magnetically propelled movers on straight and curved paths. It allows machine and equipment builders to cut costs and complexity, and end-users to standardise on one platform for better optimisation, improved reliability, and faster system deployment.

The system is claimed to makes mechanical chains with their sprockets and bearings components, and large walking beams, a thing of the past.

Jacobs Automation’s president, Keith Jacobs, describes iTrak as a “disruptive” technology that provides faster speed and greater flexibility for machine-builders. “This integrated solution will increase productivity, reduce energy consumption and provide more rapid changeovers by adjusting machine speed and geometry during operations,” he says. “Rockwell Automation has the resources and presence with global OEMs to make it a new industry standard.”

Jacobs' iTrak technology is designed to improve the performance of a wide range of machines

Kentucky-based Jacobs Automation will be integrated into the Architecture & Software segment of Rockwell's motion business. The acquisition is expected to close in January 2014.

“The combination of iTrak technology with our Integrated Architecture will be a game-changer for machine-builders,” predicts Victor Swint, vice-president of Rockwell’s motion control business. “It will provide customers with new technology to enhance performance and flexibility so they can quickly respond to changing market demands.”

iTrak has similarities to Beckhoff’s XTS (eXtended Transport System) linear motion technology.

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