The INSIDER December newsletter

The December newsletter from the Industrial Automation Insider has now been published: the following abstracts of the main stories show the topics covered this month.  To receive a newsletter copy on publication, or see the whole of these reports, why not take out a subscription? For further information, see http://www.iainsider.co.uk .

ABB buy Baldor for $4.2Bn – balances group world sales with $6Bn in USA, builds future motor and drive business potential

ABB announced a recommended cash offer to acquire Baldor Electric Company on 30 November, in a transaction valued at $4.2Bn. ABB will finance the purchase out of existing cash, and, in a very strong acquisition presentation, say they expect the transaction to provide significant synergies and growth potential, both by using Baldor’s strong position in the North American market to build the ABB penetration, and by providing the global expansion possible for Baldor products, both NEMA motors and power transmission components, through the ABB distribution network overseas.

Joe Hogan, chief executive officer of ABB, commented that “We’re in one move acquiring a market leader and significantly strengthening our automation presence in the world’s largest industrial economy” The significant Baldor business in mechanical power transmission (gears, bearings and housings, couplings) with brands like Baldor-Dodge and Baldor-Maska, has no equivalent in the previous ABB portfolio, and is quoted as “an attractive adjacency for ABB”. The real business compatibility comes with the motors, where Baldor is a market leading supplier in the North American market. Baldor offer a complete range of low voltage NEMA motors, and the recent Q3 2010 report commented that premium-efficiency motors had a 32% sales increase compared to the previous year, bringing them up to 19% of total motor sales for the quarter.

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Three of the majors hold user group events

As reported last month, the last few weeks have seen the Europe-located user group meetings for both Honeywell and Invensys, plus the Rockwell (worldwide) Automation Fair at Disney World in Orlando. There were many similarities, and a few big contrasts……

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Honeywell stress wireless and tank gauging developments

During the HUG meeting in Barcelona, Jean-Marie Alliet, from Honeywell in Belgium, and Jason Urso, vp and chief technology officer, explained the major technology developments within Honeywell, in order to put the 84 new product innovations and developments created in the current year into some perspective. Honeywell takes the advice and recommendations made by the user group committees as a major pointer as to where developments should be planned, and many of these have been completed.

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Invensys has a vision – plus a marketing plan?

The impression left by Invensys OpsManage’10 was of a company with a great depth of technology and know-how, both in products and people, having made major strides in pulling itself together over the past 18 months as Invensys Operations Management (IOM), and with people very skilled in their own areas, who were now trying to understand how to move forward together. It seems everything is moving forward, but not necessarily together.

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Nosbuch sees Cisco as the key marketing advantage

In his presentation to the assembled press, Rockwell ceo Nosbuch had teamed up with Sujeet Chand, svp and chief technical officer, to discuss sustainable manufacturing achieved by an optimized plant and supply network, which was quoted as needing plant floor integration with the external supply chain, to give flexible and agile production (a message repeated by Battacharya of Invensys in his OpsManage presentations).  To achieve this, Nosbuch states, requires the implementation of a standard unmodified Ethernet infrastructure and its associated interoperable standards, as well as manufacturing intelligence that enables the transfer of data into actionable information.

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– Honeywell, Invensys, Rockwell:
what was the real difference between these three events?

What was the difference between these three user events, apart from the logo behind the speakers? All three companies: Honeywell, Rockwell and Invensys, have done a lot better in 2010 business than they had anticipated. Whether this is just more of the same, or whether they have moved significantly into new business segments, is more difficult to assess. All of them have moved into new geographic areas to find the active sources of business, and for their European sales operations this means North Africa, Turkey, the Middle-east and Central Asia. Possibly the business environment in Europe is slightly better than that in the USA – while the Rockwell Automation Fair attendance was not affected, Honeywell had more attendees in Barcelona than in Arizona.

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Invensys: Henriksson – he maybe says too much?

Ulf Henriksson, chief executive of Invensys, seems destined to just say the ‘wrong’ thing, in press interviews, regularly. After expressing his surprise at the company surviving the winter of 2008-09 at a rock bottom share price level of down below GBP1.50, without being snapped up in a take-over bid, last month he made several comments to reporters in China after attending a state banquet as part of a UK trade delegation. Henriksson was there because IOM (Invensys Operations Management – Triconex) had won all six of the six nuclear reactors controls contracts offered for bidding in China, in the last 18 months approx, and had signed a collaboration deal with China State Railways (CSR). He was quoted as having put forward a proposition:  “I would like to see the Chinese using their cash outside China and taking ownership of Western companies” he says. “I believe that CSR has the possibility of acquiring Invensys, in principle, in its logic, as long as the shareholders accept the price. It is not my preference though.” Needless to say this produced a sudden increase in the price if Invensys shares, until a later official company statement saying “Contrary to recent speculation, Invensys confirms that it has not received an approach nor had any discussions regarding a possible offer for the Company or about a strategic partner taking a minority stake”.

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Chinese nuclear power programme chooses – ABB

Despite the quoted success for IOM in supplying Triconex safety systems to the Chinese nuclear programme, CNNP, China National Nuclear Power, at the centre of China’s energy development strategy, is to use enterprise asset management (EAM) software solutions from Ventyx, a recently acquired business within the ABB Group. EAM software from Ventyx is an industry-leading solution for the management of operations and maintenance in the nuclear power sector, helping customers to generate electricity safely and reliably. ABB suggest this order validates their recent acquisition of Ventyx, which bridges the gap between information technology and operational technology.

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New interest in SIL rated tank overfill protection

The explosion at the Buncefield fuel storage depot near Hemel Hempstead in the UK took place five years ago. The recent fines levied on various parties as a result of this accident have heightened interest in the installation of automatic shutdown systems to prevent the overfilling of storage tanks. Hima-Sella have developed an easy means of ‘layering on’ tank overfill protection, with their TOPS system, built around the HIMatrix family of programmable logic controllers (PLCs). When used with suitable valves and transmitters, HIMatrix can be included in BS EN61508 safety loops up to and including SIL3. In the summer of 2010, hard on the heels of the Buncefield fines, Hima-Sella reports a dramatic rise in interest for TOPS. Most enquiries are from site operators/owners. However some insurance companies have been enquiring too, as they are becoming increasingly interested in the feasibility of enforcing level-monitoring at smaller storage depots – particularly those which are unmanned when receiving deliveries.

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