Freewave President and co-founder steps down

FreeWave Technologies, a leader in industrial, secure Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) wireless networking solutions, has announced that their cofounder Steve Wulchin is leaving his role as President of the company. Wulchin remains as the company’s single largest shareholder and will continue to be actively involved as a Board Member in the development of FreeWave’s new product platforms and in its expansion into international marketplaces.

“I have full confidence in the new executive team Kim Niederman (FreeWave’s new CEO, appointed 2014) has assembled, and the strategic direction they have laid out for FreeWave,” said Wulchin.

Involvement in New Start-ups

While continuing to be actively involved in the company, Wulchin plans to get more involved in the start-up community, both from the standpoint of active involvement and mentorship, as well as private investment.

As a co-founder, Wulchin helped the Boulder, Colorado-based company be a stable contributor to the local economy and community since its inception in August 1993. In fact, when TA Associates, a Boston-based private equity firm, invested $113 million in FreeWave in 2007, $9 million was distributed to all FreeWave employees.

Under Wulchin’s leadership, the company deployed millions of radios and helped its more than 5,000 customers achieve things never thought possible. Its solutions are relied upon for many aspects of daily life that make a difference in the world: FreeWave’s solutions are used in the agriculture industry to help provide food, in government and defense communications to help save and protect lives, and to enable safety, security and efficiency in critical infrastructures such as in oil/gas, water/wastewater and electric power. Specifically, Wulchin spearheaded the company’s efforts to become the #1 provider of wireless infrastructure radios to the Oil and Gas industry (where 29 of the top 30 companies use FreeWave); became the #1 provider in Precision Agriculture; and, the #1 provider in Group 2 and Group 3 Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones).

“Steve Wulchin is the rare entrepreneur who has led the company he founded for a full 20-plus years with the highest integrity, care for employees and a ‘customer first’ focus,” noted Gary Vacon, a FreeWave Board Member. “Steve always puts the company first, and this is evident in every single one of the millions of radios the company has deployed over the years. Over the past two years, he has led an effort to build a management team that can navigate the company to be the leader in IIoT wireless communications.  It’s been a privilege to work with him as CEO and President, and we look forward to his continued leadership in taking this company forward.”

FreeWave Shifting Focus to New Disruptive M2M/IIoT Strategy

With the burgeoning Industrial IoT market expected to easily surpass $200 billion this year, FreeWave has its sights set on disrupting the largest segment of the IIoT industry. “Steve has contributed greatly to our new strategy and the many new products in development that will be launched over the next several quarters,” explained FreeWave CEO Kim Niederman. These products will offer FreeWave’s groundbreaking technology called ‘S2STM’ that is built around our new ‘Sensor to ServerTM’ strategy.

“The Internet of Things is transforming the industrial radio and SCADA business and FreeWave is repositioning its internal skillsets to match the requirements of the new business,” Niederman added. “Hiring the right people with the right skillsets will ensure we continue to offer our customers and partners the very best services and technology solutions that will help them continue to grow and be successful.”

Niederman says that a new generation of wireless sensor networks will make deployments faster, more cost-effective and easier to deploy than ever before.  “FreeWave is poised to leverage its leadership creating new solution-oriented radio technologies to disrupt this evolving and rapidly growing market. Our new senior management team has the experience, drive and vision to take FreeWave from what was a great data radio company to a market leader in the Industrial Internet of Things and M2M marketplace,” he said.

  • k9isjujtxabno0dlztm0Educated at the University of Virginia, Steve cofounded Freewave Technologies in August 1993. Previously, he worked in finance at Hewlett-Packard and at Sievers Instruments. An industry veteran with decades of experience, Steve has guided FreeWave into becoming one of the most trusted developers and suppliers of wireless M2M solutions for the oil and gas, defense, agriculture, and utility industries.

Knick to expand into the UK

Knick Elektronische Messgeräte, based in Berlin and known in Germany and mainland Europe for the manufacture of quality electronic measuring instruments, has decided to increase its representation in the UK market. To ensure access to the complete product range, Knick plans to expand its British distributor network.

Knick also plan to exhibit at Sensors & Instrumentation at the NEC in Birmingham from 30th September to 1st October. There you will have the possibility to see some new Knick products, such as the Portavo, the first portable analyser (for pH, oxygen, conductivity) with Memosens technology for safe or hazardous areas. Also on show will be the Stratos 2-wire and 4-wire process analysers with the latest fieldbus technology for Memosens or analog sensors, in safe or hazardous areas.

The display will also feature their new range of signal conditioners, isolators and transducers, on stand D16.

Back in 1945, engineer Ulrich Knick started manufacturing high-precision zero-point-stabilized DC amplifiers, laying the foundation for the modules product range. These amplifiers also enabled the production of reliable and precise pH meters. Today Knick develops and sells a broad range of devices for industrial analog signal processing. About 50 % of the business volume is generated from analog interface products. The other half are applied in liquids analysis, where Knick‘s high-quality measuring systems have become established in industry and the laboratory.

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AM and 3D printing conference

In a show of support for the additive manufacturing community, global engineering technology firm Renishaw sponsored the internationally renowned, knowledge transfer event focused on production using additive layer-based technologies, the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference. This is organised by the University of Nottingham, and was held from 7-9 July, 2015.

The Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference has been running for almost a decade, and the event was one of the first dedicated to additive manufacturing. Renishaw’s additive manufacturing specialists attended the exhibition, sharing their wealth of knowledge with over 300 delegates from 19 countries.

“Emerging technologies require support, which is why Renishaw has been involved with the additive manufacturing (AM) community since day one,” says Robin Weston, marketing manager of Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division. “The industry is seeing new developments every day, so the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference is a great opportunity to share knowledge and celebrate achievements.”

The first day of the event was dedicated to scientific advances in AM. Then the next two days provided a conference during which academic and industry speakers discussed industry topics, such as the future materials to be used in AM and applications of AM in the production and construction sectors. An exhibition including some of the highest profile names in additive manufacturing also ran in parallel.

Engineers test-fly 3D-printed aircraft from Royal Navy ship

UAV Launch, Portland Harbour

Separately, Les Hunt, Editor of DPA, Design Products and Applications, carries a report that a 3D-printed aircraft has been successfully launched from the bow of the Royal Navy vessel, HMS Mersey, and achieved a safe landing on a Dorset beach.

HMS Mersey provided the platform for the University of Southampton to test out its SULSA unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Weighing 3kg and measuring 1.5m the airframe was created on a 3D printer using laser sintered nylon. It was catapulted off HMS Mersey into the Wyke Regis Training Facility in Weymouth, before landing on Chesil Beach.

The flight, which covered roughly 500m, lasted less than few minutes but demonstrated the potential use of small lightweight UAVs, which can be easily launched at sea, in a maritime environment. The aircraft carried a small video camera to record its flight, allowing the researchers to monitor the flight.

Professor Andy Keane, from Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, says: “The key to increased use of UAVs is the simple production of low cost and rugged airframes – we believe our pioneering used of 3D printed nylon has advanced design thinking in the UAV community world-wide.”

It was back in 2011 that University of Southampton engineers initially designed, and flew project SULSA, the world’s first entirely ‘printed’ aircraft.

With a wingspan of nearly 1.5m, the UAV being trialled has a cruise speed of 50kts (58mph) but can fly almost silently.

The aircraft is printed in four major parts and can be assembled without the use of any tools. Watching the demonstration was the Royal Navy’s Commander Maritime Capability (Aviation), Cdr. Bow Wheaton. “The Royal Navy’s Maritime Capability organisation is very interested in conceptual applications of unmanned and highly automated systems,” he said. “We were delighted to assist the University of Southampton with development of their 3D-printed unmanned air vehicle and provide a ship for an embarked launch.”

Southampton alumnus, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas (Aeronautics, 1980) has championed the Navy’s involvement with Project Triangle, which resulted in the opportunity to provide a maritime platform for the test flight.

“Radical advances in capability often start with small steps,” said Admiral Zambellas. “The launch of a 3D-printed aircraft from HMS Mersey is a small glimpse into the innovation and forward thinking that is now embedded in our Navy’s approach. It’s well known that our first squadron of remotely piloted aircraft have proven their worth in the Gulf, providing persistent airborne surveillance across huge areas of sea.”

Renishaw strong move into 3D printing

But UK based Renishaw entitles the topic “Additive Manufacturing”: they have appointed Clive Martell, former President and CEO of Delcam, to a new role entitled ‘Head of Global Additive Manufacturing’.

Clive Martell

Clive Martell

Martell, aged 54, progressed from being a graduate recruit to become CEO of Delcam plc, where he successfully managed the company’s transition from an AIM (Alternative Investment Market) company to an operating division of Autodesk. After his appointment as Delcam’s CEO in 2009 his successful track record of delivering strong revenue and profit growth earned him the CEO of the Year Award at the 2013 Grant Thornton Quoted Company Awards, another qualification to add to those such as his MSc, CEng, and MIET.

In this new role at Renishaw, Clive will report to Geoff McFarland, Group Engineering Director and will be responsible for the strategy and direction of additive manufacturing across the Renishaw Group. He will liaise with development teams in the UK and sales and marketing operations across the world and will be particularly focussed on making a global success of Renishaw as an additive manufacturing (AM) solutions provider.

As part of this new role Clive will also guide the company’s Additive Manufacturing products line based in Staffordshire, UK, which develops new AM systems, and the Medical Dental products line, which delivers AM solutions for the healthcare sector. Commenting on the appointment, Geoff McFarland, said, “Having worked closely with Clive Martell during my six-year tenure as a non-executive director of Delcam, I am delighted to welcome him to Renishaw. His extensive experience within the global manufacturing industry, including the ability to grow customer service activities, the development of dedicated software solutions and the establishment of Delcam’s Healthcare division, will be especially valuable to Renishaw as we develop additive manufacturing as a standard solution for production and medical applications.”

Renishaw background

Renishaw is a world leading engineering technologies company, supplying products used for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, through to dentistry and brain surgery. It has over 4,000 employees located in the 32 countries with wholly owned subsidiary operations. Sales for the year ended June 2014 were £355.5 million – of which 93% was exported. Yes, that’s 93%! The company’s largest markets are the USA, China, Germany and Japan.

Throughout its history Renishaw has made a significant commitment to research and development, with historically between 14% and 18% of annual sales invested in R&D and engineering. The majority of this R&D and manufacturing of the company’s products is carried out in the UK, where due to strong growth it currently has over 100 vacancies.

The company’s success has been recognised with numerous international awards, including eighteen Queen’s Awards recognising achievements in technology, export and innovation.

Do you remember the Science Museum exhibit of 3D printed components in a metal, maybe aluminium, as reported in the INSIDER some three/four years ago? Or maybe you visited the Museum and saw it? I think the item on display was part of a carburetor. But what is making Clive Martell look so pleased? It’s either the job, or the component in his hands, which looks like a filter element? I will try to find out, but you can guess? See the pic below.

REN131 - Clive Martell - Head of Global Additive Manufacturing at Renishaw - IMAGE (1)

So the answer is, that this is just an example part, produced to highlight the skill and various different capabilities of additive manufacturing. It includes a fine mesh, a conformal cooling channel and a blade structure visible on the outside. They chose to make this piece out of cobalt chrome: any other metal alloy can be used used in additive manufacturing.

Alfa Laval acquires niche company…?

The press announcement is fairly bland, but is presumably required by the stock market requirements as the Group has acquired an independent company. But the interesting part is that the company is not named, and the geographic location is not given. The statement says:

“Alfa Laval Group – a world leader in heat transfer, centrifugal separation and fluid handling – has acquired an aftermarket company, specialized in separation technology. The company will remain a separate organization and offer its own parts and services under its own brand name. Revenues are estimated to reach about SEK 50 million this year and the company is consolidated as from July 3, 2015.

“The acquisition is in line with the strategy of the Alfa Laval Group of acquiring companies that complement the existing business in terms of products, geography or in the form of new sales channels. In this case the Alfa Laval Group adds a complementary aftermarket channel.”

Lars Renström, President and CEO, added: “With the acquisitions we are adding presence in an important niche of the aftermarket”. Possibly the plural of ‘acquisitions’ refers to other previous acquisitions, such as in South Korea. At SEK50m in forecast sales, the company is small, as this is only about USD6m sales in a year. But Alfa Laval add another interesting aside, stressing the value of the aftermarket sector, which was: “Did you know that… the value of the aftermarket for separation is estimated to be four times the value of new sales?”

Recruiting Design Engineers

TXT 2 sellafield chimneyFor those working in HR and recruitment, this is how Sellafield Ltd, the company cleaning up the Sellafield (previously known as Windscale) nuclear plant site in the north-west of the UK, advertises to recruit good engineers wanting a challenge. The site is also located on the coast of the Lake District, one of the most beautiful national park locations in the UK. Their advert, under the picture shown above, of the relevant chimney, reads:

“This is a first generation reprocessing plant. Constructed during the late 1940s and early 1950s, high-hazard reduction protocols weren’t factored into its creation. The plant contains four highly active cells, each containing redundant radioactive material. Before we can even begin to think about how we can demolish this building, we need to work out how we can safely remove the 61m stack that’s housed on the roof. And we can’t begin to do that until a new ventilation plant has been completed. If that wasn’t complicated enough, the building is located in a highly congested part of our site and space is extremely limited. Getting this right couldn’t be more important – the positive impact will affect the lives of millions across the UK for generations. There’s absolutely zero margin for error. Welcome a 100-year transformation project. Welcome to design engineering at Sellafield Ltd.”

E+H in Finland

In the future Endress+Hauser Oy will be the exclusive provider of Endress+Hauser field devices and related solutions and services in the Finnish market. The new company started operations as of 1 July 2015 and will resume all the previous business responsibilities of the Metso Endress+Hauser joint venture company, which include maintaining the longstanding customer relationships with companies in the Finnish process industries.

Along with these changes the company will further concentrate on its core competences according to the E+H corporate strategy. Endress+Hauser already serves customers in six locations in Finland, and the plan is to further expand and develop local expertise around the country. This will be achieved by effectively utilizing the parent company’s global operating models, broad industrial knowledge and efficient logistics.

Benefiting from local expertise and the global parent company’s operating model

“By combining our parent company’s efficient operating models and high-quality products, with our existing local expertise and knowledge, we can be a truly reliable and competitive partner for our customers,” Tuomo Saukkonen, Managing Director of Endress+Hauser Oy, said. “Additionally we see that Endress+Hauser’s highly developed Plant Asset Management offering will serve as a basis for our operations, enabling cost-efficient field device management and e-commerce.”

Endress+Hauser has successfully grown its business worldwide and now wants to place further emphasis on better serving Finnish industries. The new company aims to further increase market share in Finland by bringing out new products, services and solutions to address the needs of process industries.

Background from the INSIDER Newsletter

The February Industrial Automation INSIDER Newsletter reported on the E+H 2014 results and their business plans as follows:

Endress+Hauser Group results for 2014 showed a net sales increase of 11%, to a total just over Euro2Bn ($2.3Bn). These figures consolidated those for Analytik Jena and Kaiser Optical Systems for the first time – the organic growth in net sales was just under 6%. Operating profit and net income also improved compared to the previous year, and despite problems with the value of the Rouble affecting the results at Analytik Jena, other developments in foreign exchange rates created a slight tailwind, in contrast to the year before. CFO Luc Schultheiss commented that the current strength of the Swiss Franc does pose some challenges, for the Swiss manufacturing operation, but most production is based in the Eurozone or US Dollar areas.

In Finland, the joint venture sales and service company run in co-operation with Metso is to revert to Metso ownership: E+H will establish their own exclusive representation in Finland, through a wholly owned subsidiary. A similar JV arrangement in Switzerland will be transferred to become wholly owned by E+H.


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