Small machine tools for small workpieces

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The industrial micro manufacturing is changing! The trend is moving away from the one-dimensional mass production to an increasing variety of products coupled with falling numbers and shorter innovation cycles. Today’s ultra-precision machines are rarely operated economically under these conditions. Here, in micro manufacturing the demand rises for new, size-adjusted machine tools that operate more economical and ecological than before. These needs can be derived from a consideration of simple parameters, such as the installation space, size of the working space and need for operating power or the moving masses of machine tools. These parameters are in considerable disproportion to the volume or mass of small workpieces of only few millimeters with structures in micrometer range.

This is where a completely new concept of industrial micro production is set, which was developed in the Priority Program SPP 1476 ”small machine tools for small workpieces” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Under the coordination of Institute of Production Engineering (LaFT) of Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg, 18 leading production technology institutions of various German universities investigated on new machine tools for micro production.

The idea of the SPP: We make the machines so small, light and flexible, as they can be to be rebuilt and converted for changing needs in shortest times. Therefore the machine tools are introduced and positioned to the workpiece depending on the machining task – and not vice versa as before. What is new is that their work space can interfere with the space section of the workpiece. This allows multiple machines to work simultaneously on a workpiece and, as required, placed flexible side by side, one above the other or in a row. Nevertheless, the technology works accurately and precisely.

Just like a Lego game, companies can respond to changing ideas, processing technologies and requirements at any time. If new parts are needed, they can be easily attached to the machine via multifunctional interface. So an ad hoc change between micro tool spindles, laser processing optics or EDM electrodes is possible. The control operates via a laptop or PC. It also followed by the idea of Open Production – the user community constantly develops the system further. The advantage of this completely new technology: it not only saves time, resources and space, it uses a worker more targeted and effective. The first prototypes are developed. With mass production of such a machine, costs drop down to just under a fifth of conventional production systems.

The aim of the Priority Program is the development and prototype testing of scientific methods for building new machine tools for micro production, which are adapted to characteristic technological and technical parameters of the corresponding micro workpiece. In the Priority Program the main focus is on machine tools for material removal process utilising mechanical (machining), thermal (laser), electro thermal (electrical discharge machining) and electrochemical energy. These new machines have technical, economic and ecological benefits. They enable production of complex parts with higher accuracy from a large range of materials and are also characterised by a higher inherent variability in structure and location of the installation site. Economic and ecological advantages are realised by low costs and lower consumption of resources for the development and operation of the machine. In particular, steep improvements of the mentioned properties are achieved by bringing down the critical size of the developed manufacturing equipment.

After falling below a certain size, small machine tools enable the introduction of new or known but still unused machine tool technologies and elements. As opposed to today’s evolutionary development of the machines, these technologies enable innovative leaps, i.e., revolutionary steps in the development and operation of the machines.

At the Hanover Fair desktop-size machine tools are presented, which were composed in exemplary configurations of the newly developed tool, feed and additional modules. The modules have been designed so that different machine tools can be assembled and disassembled ad hoc and task oriented from the mentioned modules.



B&R fuses material handling and production

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Automation technology from B&R makes it easy to achieve precise synchronization of conveyor belts and robots. The company’s readily configurable PLCopen function blocks can be used to implement conveyor belt tracking.

An increasing number of processes in production lines require synchronization with conveyor belts. Ensuring the high levels of speed and precision needed to accomplish this used to require highly complex control solutions. Production lines with conveyor belt tracking have an advantage. Since the production process never comes to a stop, they can achieve higher production volumes.

Fully integrated robotics
The complexity of these systems is constantly increasing, with the presence of robots becoming more and more common. Their tasks range from simple sorting to complex product processing on running conveyor belts. The PLCopen function blocks from B&R can be used for all types of robot kinematics and even allow robots to be synchronized with multiple conveyor belts. The interfaces are also ideally suited for integrating HMI applications for all types of kinematic systems.

The robot can move freely during the synchronization phase, which also enables complex product manipulation. A special feature of the B&R solution is that the conveyor belt is fully integrated in the application. An external sensor that supplies information about the current position of the conveyor belt is all that is needed.

B&R makes it easy to synchronize robots and conveyor belts.


The conveyor belt tracking solution from B&R is hardware-independent, which allows the use of different drive systems with different kinematics. The application can be created quickly and easily upgraded at a later time. The robot can be replaced or the conveyor belts can be upgraded at any time without a significant amount of application engineering work. A large portion of the software can be used as-is.

Universal Electronics to Acquire Ecolink Intelligent Technology

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Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI), is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement to acquire U.S.-based Ecolink Intelligent Technology, Inc. (Ecolink).

Universal Electronics logo


“We are very excited to bring the Ecolink team under the UEI umbrella. The team at Ecolink has some of the industry’s leading experts in the wireless sensor market and a track record of bringing creative, innovative and high performing products to market. Ecolink’s expertise in wireless security and home automation technology will bring a new level of compatibility to the industry to enable sensors throughout the home to work together seamlessly,” said Paul Arling, UEI’s Chairman and CEO.

According to Parks Associates, residential home security is leading the transition to the smart home. “The majority of sensors and control panels sold today can be accessed and remotely controlled with a mobile device. No other residential product can make that claim,” said Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Parks Associates. “Additionally, over the past 4 years, cable and telco providers have successfully added home security and automation services to their offerings, gaining an estimated 14% share of professionally-monitored security systems in U.S. broadband households.”

“With over 25 years of experience as a technology and product supplier to the cable/telco industry, UEI, through this acquisition, is well positioned to supply these wireless solutions to its customers,” stated Tricia Parks.

According to data from ABI Research, the global sensor and device market for home security and automation is expected to grow from $1.4 billion in 2015 to $4.0 billion in 2019, with growth forecasted across all three channels of distribution: pro-security; cable/telco and consumer/DIY. This acquisition allows UEI to extend its market reach into traditional home security and consumer/DIY – channels that are actively served by Ecolink products and solutions today.

The purchase price for the acquisition of Ecolink assets will be approximately $12.4 million in cash plus incentive-based cash consideration to be paid over the next five years. Ecolink’s acquired assets include over 25 issued and pending patents, and other related intellectual property and assets used in its smart home, wireless security and home automation business.

UEI intends to operate the acquired business as a wholly-owned subsidiary and market the home security and automation products and services under Ecolink brands and trademarks, leveraging Ecolink’s many years of experience, expertise and innovation in the industry.

“We are excited to be joining the UEI team,” stated Michael Lamb, Ecolink’s President and CEO. “UEI’s leadership position in cable and telco, as well as their operational excellence will give our home security products the boost needed to achieve significant market penetration.”

About Ecolink Intelligent Technology
Ecolink is a leading developer of smart home technology. The company delivers a wide range of intelligent wireless security and automation components dedicated to redefining the home security experience. Ecolink has over 20 years of wireless engineering expertise in the home security and automation market and holds more than 25 related pending and issued patents. For more information, visit

About Universal Electronics Inc.
Founded in 1986, Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) is the global leader in wireless control technology for the connected home. UEI designs, develops, and delivers innovative solutions that enable consumers to control entertainment devices, digital media, and home systems. The company’s broad portfolio of patented technologies and database of infrared control software have been adopted by many Fortune 500 companies in the consumer electronics, subscription broadcast, and computing industries. UEI sells and licenses wireless control products through distributors and retailers under the One For All® brand name. More information is available at

Global Human Machine Interface (HMI) Market to grow GAGR 7.7%

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Global Human Machine Interface (HMI) Market 2015-2019 – Transition to multi-touch HMIs

Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the “Global Human Machine Interface (HMI) Market 2015-2019” report to their offering.

The global HMI market to grow at a CAGR of 7.73% over the period 2015-2019

Wonderware InTouch Panel
Photo. Wonderware InTouch Panel

HMI systems are a combination of software and hardware that provide an interface between automated systems and humans by using HMI software or HMI panels. It helps operators interact with automated systems in vehicles and understand the plant floor automation process. HMI systems are widely adopted for plant automation purposes. They help feed in the inputs and monitor, control, and check the parameters that are connected to control systems in a plant.

The requirement for faster, advanced, and more responsive HMI systems having additional features has created the need for multitouch HMI devices. The use of smartphones and other devices in day-to-day life will ensure that multitouch panels do not require much user training.

According to the report, the need for higher efficiency in plant operations is driving the packaging, food and beverage, and automotive industries to adopt HMI devices. There is a need for reducing the human interface and increasing the real-time monitoring and process control. This will help in preventing damage to life and property. The use of automation systems will help reduce maintenance costs and machine downtime and increase productivity as accurate information regarding the operations will help in a better decision-making process.

Further, the report states that there is a lack of standardization of HMI systems as vendors offer customized products to their customers.

The following are the major end-users in the global HMI market: packaging industry, food and beverage industry, automotive industry, pharmaceuticals industry, utilities sector, metals manufacturing industry, and other industries.

New CEO and President appointed in Beijer Electronics

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The Board of Directors of Beijer Electronics AB (publ) has appointed Per Samuelsson (57) as new CEO and President.

Per Samuelsson has for 16 years held a similar position within the Strålfors group. Strålfors was previously listed but was bought out in 2006 by what is today PostNord.

Per was formerly a member of the Group management of PLM, as division manager, and has previously held several senior positions within the Perstorp Group. Per holds an MBA from the Stockholm School of Economics.

Per replaces Anna Belfrage, acting President and CEO since September 2014. He will join Beijer Electronics on August 17, 2015.

Per Samuelsson, CEO of Beijer Electronics
Per Samuelsson, CEO of Beijer Electronics

— We look forward to working together with Per and continue developing Beijer Electronics, partly through proactive investments in subsidiaries Westermo and Korenix to strengthen their positions in industrial data communication and wireless communication, and also by continuing internationalization of our HMI products.

We also want to thank Anna for her efforts and leadership as interim CEO, particularly in structuring parts of the company and reduce costs to achieve improved profitability, says Anders Ilstam, Chairman of Beijer Electronics.

Beijer Electronics is a fast growing technology company with extensive experience of industrial automation and data communication. The company develops and markets competitive products and solutions that focus on the user. Since its start-up in 1981, Beijer Electronics has evolved into a multinational group present in 19 countries and sales of 1,402 MSEK 2014. The company is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Nordic Stockholm Small Cap list under the ticker BELE.

Rockwell Automation Named a 2014 Nestlé North America Procurement Supplier of the Year

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Citing its ability to develop innovative solutions and provide extensive support to commission new factory lines, Nestlé USA awarded Rockwell Automation its 2014 North America Procurement Supplier of the Year award for technical procurement – maintenance, repair and operations (MRO). Nestlé USA also commended Rockwell Automation for its superior ability to communicate its supplier relationship management scorecard throughout Rockwell Automation’s organization, using it to gauge its performance as a supplier to Nestlé.

Rockwell Automation Named a 2014 Nestlé North America Procurement Supplier
Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation, accepts the 2014 North America Procurement Supplier of the Year award for technical procurement – maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) from Andy Murray, head of technical procurement, Nestle. (Photo: Business Wire)

“This award recognizes many years of innovative collaboration and partnership between Nestlé USA and Rockwell Automation,” said Andy Murray, head of technical procurement, Nestlé. “Rockwell Automation is one of our key strategic suppliers, and I’m proud of all our collaborative efforts. Rockwell Automation has innovative ideas, and we would like to see even more. It’s a great pleasure to present this award to Rockwell Automation.”

“We’re honored to receive this award,” said Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “We pride ourselves on working with the best companies in the world, and Nestlé is certainly one. Nestlé was our first global account, and our relationship is the benchmark that we use to measure all others. Whether it’s sharing technology roadmaps or identifying mutual goals and objectives, our close relationship has driven this strategic alignment. Thank you to Nestlé for being a great customer and partner.”

The goal of the Nestlé Supplier Relationship Program is to strengthen and develop relationships between Nestlé USA and its key suppliers, creating more value for both organizations.

Siemens enhances controller portfolio for process industry

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Simatic S7-410 controller further developed

Siemens continues to develop its controller portfolio to handle sophisticated tasks in the process industry.

Users of the flexibly configurable controllers, which offer a high level of security and availability, will therefore benefit from long-term investment protection. The first step was to give the Simatic S7-410 the standard coating for operation in toxic atmospheres and to further increase the fault tolerance of the redundant system.

Siemens has also extended the ambient temperature range up to 70 degrees Celsius, which allows users to deploy the powerful Simatic PCS 7 controller in harsh environments, such as in oil and gas applications. The next steps will be, for example, to further expand the Profinet functionality in order to increase fault tolerance and availability.

Siemens entwickelt sein Controller-Portfolio für anspruchsvolle Aufgaben in der Prozessindustrie weiter. Damit profitieren Anwender der flexibel konfigurierbaren Controller, die ein hohes Maß an Sicherheit und Verfügbarkeit bieten, von einer langfristigen Investitionssicherheit. Siemens continues to develop its controller portfolio to handle sophisticated tasks in the process industry. Users of the flexibly configurable controllers, which offer a high level of security and availability, will therefore benefit from long-term investment protection.
Siemens entwickelt sein Controller-Portfolio für anspruchsvolle Aufgaben in der Prozessindustrie weiter. Damit profitieren Anwender der flexibel konfigurierbaren Controller, die ein hohes Maß an Sicherheit und Verfügbarkeit bieten, von einer langfristigen Investitionssicherheit.
Siemens continues to develop its controller portfolio to handle sophisticated tasks in the process industry. Users of the flexibly configurable controllers, which offer a high level of security and availability, will therefore benefit from long-term investment protection.

The Simatic S7-410 controller is an integral part of the Siemens Simatic PCS 7 process control system and currently the most powerful controller in the process industry.

This is particularly obvious in the integrated scaling feature: it is now possible to apply a uniform hardware and software environment for very small systems of 100 I/Os up to large-scale plants of more than 100,000 inputs/outputs.

The Simatic S7-410 controller is available in a standard version as well as in fault-tolerant and fail-safe versions. The device therefore meets all the requirements of the process industry, including the chemical, glass, metal, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, solar, oil & gas industries as well as the water and wastewater sectors.