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Rockwell buys linear motion developer MagneMotion

10 February, 2016

Rockwell Automation is buying MagneMotion, the US manufacturer of intelligent conveying systems, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will complement Rockwell’s existing iTrak linear transport system – which it acquired when it bought Jacobs Automation in 2013 – to create what Rockwell calls “the broadest portfolio of independent cart solutions” in this emerging technology area.

“This acquisition continues our strategy to build a portfolio of smart manufacturing technologies that brings next-generation performance to our customers today,” says Marco Wishart, vice-president and general manager of Rockwell Automation’s motion control business. “MagneMotion expands our existing capabilities in independent cart technology.

“Our recent acquisition of Jacobs Automation and its iTrak technology is complementary to MagneMotion’s portfolio,” Wishart adds. “We see a future where the transportation of products within the factory – whether inside of a particular machine or between machines – will be fully controlled to optimise the productivity and flexibility of the entire process.”

Massachusetts-based MagneMotion will be integrated into Rockwell’s motion business in its Architecture & Software division.

“This deal is the logical next step in the evolution of our business, and a welcome development for MagneMotion,” says MagneMotion’s president and CEO, Todd Webber. “Rockwell Automation’s leading position in plant-wide controls and industrial automation gives us the best opportunity to introduce this technology to customers. As the market continues to realise the benefits of applying independent cart technology, Rockwell Automation’s global organisation will be a tremendous asset.”

MagneMotion was founded in 1996 by group of MIT researchers, led by Dr Richard Thornton, who had made significant advances in linear synchronous motor (LSM) technology.

MagneMotion describes its QuickStick LSM transport system as "an intelligent alternative to traditional conveyor systems"

MagneMotion's achievements include a demonstration urban maglev (magnetic levitation) system, an LSM-based heavy payload transport elevator for the US Navy, and material-handling and assembly automation projects for customers in the consumer, solar panel, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, automotive, medical devices and mining industries.

The company holds patents in: motor and magnet array design and fabrication; position sensing, communication, and control of LSMs; as well as propulsion, levitation, guidance and switching technologies for maglev and wheel-based transport systems.

MagneMotion says it can provide transport systems of any length, speed and thrust, without needing cables that could limit the motion of the vehicle or moving frame.

The acquisition is expected to close this quarter.

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