A lot of news is coming in–and I’m way behind in trying to keep up.

ABB Acquisition

Well, I was just telling some analysts that I expected ABB to continue filling its portfolio with smaller acquisitions within the automation and instrumentation market. This release just came in. ABB has agreed to acquire Prairieville, Louisiana company K-TEK, which will join the Measurement Products business unit within ABB’s Process Automation division. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Terms were not disclosed. ABB expects the transaction to be completed within the second quarter.

“This acquisition fills an important space in our product line,” explains Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB’s Process Automation division. “K-TEK is well established, particularly in the oil and gas industry, which is a growth area for ABB. We see a lot of potential for synergy between ABB’s extensive geographic reach and exposure to other industries, and K-TEK’s depth in level detection technology.”

With over 350,000 installations since its founding in 1975, K-TEK is a supplier of magnetic level gauges, magnetostrictive level transmitters and laser level transmitters. The company offers a broad range of level detection instruments, as well as pressure and temperature switches, and will have no overlap with ABB’s existing product line.

K-TEK has annual revenues of approximately $50 million and employs more than 250 people with operations in China, Netherlands, India and South Africa in addition to the US. The acquisition is in line with ABB’s strategy to pursue growth opportunities that complement the company’s product, technology and geographical portfolio.

Smart Grid Closer to Reality

In additional news from ABB, the smart grid gets closer to reality. It has announced it will work on a joint development project with Helsingin Energia, a public utility in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, and Nokia Siemens Networks to design and install a large-scale smart grid in the new Kalasatama district of Helsinki.

The R&D project will test the concept of a flexible, low-emission power network in the district as part of a larger initiative to lift Helsinki’s environmental profile with a focus on the sustainable and efficient distribution of power. ABB, Helsingin Energia and Nokia Siemens Networks will develop a variety of solutions based on modern communication, information and energy technologies.

These include solutions to ensure that excess power generated from renewable energy sources in the district itself, for instance from solar panels and wind turbines, can be fed into the power grid; to enable electric vehicles to draw electricity from the grid or feed it back; to store energy; to create easy-to-use services and to provide more flexibility and transparency in the distribution grid, helping to lower consumption and emissions.

“In terms of scale, this is another big step forward in the development of a smarter and more flexible urban grid that can integrate distributed and renewable energy sources and help people to realize the vision of sustainable urban living,” said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative.

Labeling Acquisition

Standard Register announced that it has purchased the assets of Fusion Graphics, Inc., a leader in in-mold labeling (IML) and decorating technology. The assets consist primarily of intellectual property and will become part of the company’s Industramark business unit, which is focused on product marking and other solutions for industrial manufacturers.

“Standard Register has licensed certain technology from Fusion Graphics in the in-mold labeling space for about two years,” said Tom Furey, president of Industramark. “The acquisition of Fusion’s patented IML products and intellectual property will enable us to help manufacturers label and brand their products with more permanence and durability. Additionally, it adds to our already robust suite of product marking solutions.”

The acquisition includes Fusion’s Grafilm In-Mold Labeling System, a patented family of products which enables in-mold decorating technology to be used across a wide range of applications. Key attributes include conformability to irregular product surfaces and durable, fade-resistant product marking. The complete Grafilm product line works with virtually all thermoplastics and rubber.

“Through this acquisition, Standard Register can now help a much broader group of customers worldwide in using Grafilm to enhance their products,” said Bob Freund, founder and co-owner of Fusion Graphics and inventor of Grafilm. “We can now continually develop new products by combining the material science capabilities of Standard Register with Grafilm’s unique properties.”

Motion / Robot Partnership

This one is a little strange. Yaskawa actually owns Motoman, and the release states that operationally things will stay the same. Motoman Inc. and Yaskawa Electric America Inc. announced that they will combine to form Yaskawa America, Inc. The Motoman Inc. operations, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, will form the Motoman Robotics Division of Yaskawa America; the Yaskawa Electric America, Inc. operations, headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, will form the Drives & Motion Division. According to Yaskawa America, Inc. Chairman and CEO, Gen Kudo, the new name will allow us to fully exploit Yaskawa’s position as the world’s largest manufacturer of AC drives, motion control products and industrial robots.

“The global economy is recovering and we believe this is the perfect time to combine the brand name strength of Yaskawa and Motoman. Using the name Yaskawa on a global basis will strengthen our corporate identity and emphasize the strong global connection between drives, motion control products and robotics. Yaskawa Electric Corporation in Japan, which is globally recognized for innovative engineering and quality products, has always used the company name of Yaskawa. This brand recognition, plus Yaskawa’s powerful sales and manufacturing presence in Asia, Europe and the Americas will enable Yaskawa America to more effectively market our broad product lines,” Kudo said.

From an operational standpoint, both the Drives & Motion Division and the Motoman Robotics Division will continue to operate as independent divisions, retaining the same management structures, and operating in the same geographical regions that are currently in place.

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