P+F buys ecom to complete hazardous area capability with mobile devices

Ecom instruments from Assamstadt in Germany was established 30 years ago, and has specialised in portable equipment suitable for use in the most hazardous areas of a plant, ie Zone 1 rated explosion hazard areas on a petrochemical plant, etc. This extends from a torch, through to a mobile phone, PDA, laptop etc, as well as measuring instruments and calibration equipment. They recently developed into providing similar barcode scanner systems, plus intelligent software and applications.

At the end of October it was announced that Pepperl + Fuchs of Mannheim, also in Germany, a family-owned company well known for industrial sensor systems and explosion protection in general, had acquired the whole business of ecom instruments GmbH. In this way P+F adds to their existing (static) explosion protection portfolio and know-how offering by including mobile devices and solutions.

Dr Gunther Kegel, CEO of P+F, commented “In ecom instruments we found an industry pioneer with 15% growth rate lately who, for decades, proved and strengthened his technology leadership in mobile explosion protection and now complements our offering with a competitive portfolio reaching far into the future”.

“Besides the expanded product portfolio we can see new opportunities arising along the entire value added chain. With this we can not only strengthen our offering in the field of explosion protection, but we can achieve a much better market position – with a partner from our region – and consequently generate new solutions around the complex of Industrie 4.0”.

Rolf Neid, the Founder and Managing Partner of ecom Instruments, commented: “The expertise in explosion protection and the wide-spread international sales force of Pepperl+Fuchs made them our favourite partner from the very beginning. Our innovative devices do not only fill a gap in their portfolio, but allow ecom instruments and Pepperl+Fuchs to develop future business models and solutions at the Center of Competence at Assamstadt to gain access to the enormous growth potential of the ongoing digitalization of industry”.

P+F hazardous area business

The P+F Process Automation Division is world-market leader in the field of explosion protection in hazardous areas using intrinsic safety. Furthermore, the Division offers large varieties of application-oriented system solutions for process industries. The portfolio consists of analogue isolation barriers, fieldbus topology systems, remote I/O systems, HART interfaces, level control sensors, purge systems, HMI devices, as well as power supplies and signalling devices.

The P+F UK factory in Wednesbury, in the Midlands, produces Exd and Exe junction boxes, cabinets and control panels and switching systems for hazardous area use, plus accessories such as light fittings, floodlights and beacons for hazardous areas. The factory, originally known as Walsall Ltd, was acquired by P+F in 2009, and a visit to see the expanded operation in 2012 was reported on Processingtalk.info – see the story “P+F invests in factory for Exd, Exe housings

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GE and Baker Hughes combine

The Offshore Engineer reports that GE and Baker Hughes are teaming up to form the “new” Baker Hughes, a company that will be led by current GE Oil & Gas CEO Lorenzo Simonelli and have dual headquarters in Houston and London.

The agreement will combine GE’s oil and gas business (GE Oil & Gas) and Baker Hughes, in what the two hope will be a leading equipment, technology and services provider with US$32 billion of combined revenue and operations in more than 120 countries.

The deal has already been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies. At closing, which is expected in mid-2017, Baker Hughes shareholders will receive a special one-time cash dividend of $17.50 per share and 37.5% of the new company, with GE owning the remaining 62.5%. The deal is still subject to approval by Baker Hughes shareholders, regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions.

Both GE and Baker Hughes expect to generate “total run-rate synergies” of $1.6 billion by 2020, which has a net present value of $14 billion, that will primarily be driven by cost out, and positioned for growth as the industry rebounds.

“By drawing from GE technology expertise and Baker Hughes capabilities in oilfield services, the new company will provide best-in-class physical and digital technology solutions for customer productivity,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

The new company will combine the digital solutions, manufacturing expertise and technology from GE, in addition to the track record of success Baker Hughes has in the oilfield services sector.

“With combined revenue of over $32 billion, the product portfolio of GE Oil & Gas and Baker Hughes in drilling, completions, production and midstream / downstream equipment and services will create the second largest player in the oilfield equipment and services industry,” according to the statement from the two companies. “Customers should expect sustainable innovation and integration that will deliver valuable outcomes. Both companies have invested even in the downturn and have strong, complementary competitive scope across the industry. From GE’s fullstream oil and gas manufacturing and technology solutions spanning across subsea and drilling, rotating equipment, imaging and sensing, to the Baker Hughes portfolio in drilling and evaluation and completion and production, the combined company will be moving beyond oilfield services and into oil and gas productivity solutions.”

Upon closing, the new Baker Hughes board will consist of nine directors: five of whom, including Chairman Jeff Immelt will be appointed by GE and four, including Vice Chairman Martin Craighead will be appointed by Baker Hughes.

“This transaction creates an industry leader, one that is ideally positioned to grow in any market. Oil and gas customers demand more productive solutions. This can only be achieved through technical innovation and service execution, the hallmarks of GE and Baker Hughes,” said Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO. “As we go forward, this transaction accelerates our capability to extend the digital framework to the oil and gas industry. An oilfield service platform is essential to deliver digitally enabled offerings to our customers. We expect Predix to become an industry standard and synonymous with improved customer outcomes.”

“This compelling combination brings together best-in-class oilfield equipment manufacturing and services, and digital technology offerings for the benefit of all customers and stakeholders,” Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes chairman and CEO said. “The combination of our complementary assets will create a platform capable of seamless integration while we enhance our ability to deliver optimized and integrated solutions and increase touch points with our customers.”

“This transformative transaction will create a powerful force in the oil and gas market as we continue to drive long-term value for our customers and shareholders,” Simonelli said. “Both companies’ employees will benefit significantly from being part of a larger, stronger company that is positioned for long-term growth. We look forward to combining the digital solutions and technology from the GE Store with the domain expertise of Baker Hughes and its culture of innovation in the oilfield services sector.”

The full release is available on http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161031005488/en/

SolutionsPT adds SCADA and HMI – from Citect – to its Wonderware offering!

SolutionsPT have issued a press release covering an expansion of their Wonderware offering from Schneider, to add SCADA and HMI Solutions. This reads as follows:

Industrial IT solutions specialist SolutionsPT has become the UK and Ireland distributor for world-class automation solutions provider Citect, strengthening its SCADA product portfolio.

Renowned for the development and application of SCADA and HMI solutions, the Citect brand is owned by Schneider Electric, and its range of products includes CitectSCADA, CitectHMI and CitectHistorian.

Schneider Electric already has a longstanding relationship with SolutionsPT, which has been the sole UK and Ireland distributor for its Wonderware suite of products since 1991. As a result, SolutionsPT was seen as the logical choice to take on the distribution of Schneider Citect software in the UK and Ireland because of its existing focus on, and technical expertise in, the automation sector.

To support the new product offering, SolutionsPT has promoted Anne Fletcher to the role of Citect Product Manager. Anne has been with SolutionsPT for six years, most recently working as Channel Relationship Manager.  Anne will be responsible for championing the Citect product set amongst SolutionsPT end users, OEMs and System Integrators to enhance the profitability and penetration of Citect products.

Martin Walder, VP Industry UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric, said: “Collaborating on sales and utilising SolutionsPT to support our Citect product will allow us to improve the service to Citect customers and enhance the breadth of our software offering. This deal will allow us to offer Historian, Batch Management and MES functionality as well as our targeted SCADA and HMI offerings. SolutionsPT is a well-established distributor and the right partner to work with to develop the overall market for Schneider software products.”

The press release ends there.

The outsider view

It is interesting to consider the background to this release, which on the face of it, is a little confusing, when you try to see it from the Schneider viewpoint. SolutionsPT is a long term independent but major Wonderware distributor and installer into UK and Irish industry. The relationship with Schneider only commenced after Schneider acquired Invensys plc: the acquisition process started with the takeover offer made in July 2013. This deal was not finalised until later in the year, after September.

In September 2013, Invensys plc, already subject to the acquisition offer from Schneider, acquired US based InduSoft, which was quoted as “a provider of HMI and embedded intelligent device software for the automation market”. This did indeed seem surprising, since Schneider had acquired a major HMI/SCADA software supplier when it bought Citect, many years before, in 2006. So why would the fairly inevitable Schneider/Invensys combined operation require two such similar companies?

This exercised several reports and analysis presented in the Industrial Automation Insider in late 2013, and some similar blog posts on http://www.ProcessingTalk.info.

However, today, in 2016, the InduSoft website promotes their Web Studio 8.0 as SCADA/HMI software for Intuitive Dashboards, OEE and the Internet of Things, under the brand of Wonderware InduSoft. Their UK distribution is quoted as dealt with by the InduSoft office in Germany. The original UK agent for InduSoft prior to 2013 was a private company, AdProSys, run by Mike Bradshaw, an ex-Wonderware employee, who then joined InduSoft as an employee in September 2013 to promote direct and channel sales of InduSoft throughout Europe. He then left InduSoft in July 2104.

With the InduSoft product being Wonderware branded, surely SolutionsPT would be selling it, as a part of their Wonderware package:  but the SolutionsPT website solidly refuses to recognize InduSoft as a search term….

The logic of this suggest that SolutionsPT have done their homework rigorously, and have decided that the Wonderware-Citect combination is the best match, to meet their market requirement for HMI/SCADA in Wonderware based applications.

©Processingtalk.info

Emerson acquires PermaSense

Emerson has announced the acquisition of UK-based Permasense Ltd, a leading provider of non-intrusive corrosion monitoring technologies for the offshore and onshore oil production, refining, chemical, power, pipelines, metals and mining and other industries. Permasense monitoring systems use unique sensor technology, wireless data delivery and advanced analytics to continuously monitor for metal loss from corrosion or erosion in pipes, pipelines or vessels, and reliably deliver high-integrity data from even the harshest environments.

The acquisition represents another step forward in the Emerson strategy to invest in its core business platforms and expand in markets that hold significant long-term growth opportunity.

“Corrosion and erosion can significantly impact the safe and reliable operation of our industrial customers’ infrastructure, which can have dire consequences. Wireless non-intrusive corrosion monitoring is a transformational shift that helps customers immediately understand the health and integrity of their infrastructure in real-time and enables them to fully optimise their operations while maximising safety,” said Mike Train, president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “For example, with the increasing complexity of the types of crude oil coming into a refinery, corrosion is becoming a significant issue in the uptime and profitability of a refinery. Now refinery infrastructure can be monitored and controlled using this non-intrusive technology.”

The Permasense product line will become part of the Rosemount portfolio of measurement and analytical technologies. Permasense technologies complement the Emerson Roxar intrusive corrosion monitoring and non-intrusive sand management systems and strengthen the company’s Pervasive Sensing applications that provide customers a more complete view of their operations and facilities. With Permasense and Roxar technologies in its portfolio, Emerson will be the largest provider of integrity and corrosion management solutions in the marketplace.

Lal Karsanbhai, group vp, measurement and analytical technologies, Emerson Automation Solutions, added: “The addition of patented Permasense technologies along with our existing Roxar technologies enables Emerson to provide customers with a more complete corrosion monitoring solution and a clearer picture into the performance of their infrastructure based on what they’re demanding of it and the strategies needed to optimise production.”

Central to Permasense corrosion monitoring systems are sensors that employ proven ultrasonic wall thickness measurement principles. The sensors are battery powered and communicate wirelessly, which minimises the cost of installation and enables use in remote areas and on a large scale. The sensors are also designed so they can be deployed in hazardous areas.

man-adjustpipe

New President at Universal Robots

Following their recent (2015) acquisition of Universal Robots A/S of Denmark for US $285m, Teradyne Inc has announced the appointment of a new President to steer the company’s future, leading the growing market for collaborative robots (Cobots). They have named Jürgen von Hollen as President with immediate effect. Von Hollen was most recently the Executive President of the Engineering Solutions Division of Bilfinger SE, which includes their Automation and Controls business in Mannheim, Germany: they are a leading international engineering and services company. In his rôle at Bilfinger, he was responsible for a global staff of nearly 10,000 and annual sales in excess of Euro1billion.

“We’re delighted to have Jürgen leading Universal Robots through this period of explosive growth,” said Teradyne CEO Mark Jagiela. “Jürgen’s experience developing and leading global teams serving a broad range of industrial and commercial customers is tremendously important as we drive the adoption of easy to use, safe, and economical UR Cobots across the globe.”

unnamed“I am excited to join Universal Robots as they work to fundamentally reshape automation across the global economy,” said von Hollen. “The opportunity to lead and expand a high powered organization like UR with such a long term, high growth outlook is very rare and I look forward to working with our worldwide distributors, partners, and customers in the days ahead to realize the full potential of collaborative robots.”

Von Hollen began his career with Daimler-Benz aerospace and held senior management roles at Daimler-Chrysler Services, Deutsche Telecom and Pentair. He will now be based in Odense, Denmark.

Background to UR

Universal Robots is the result of many years of intensive research at Denmark’s successful robot cluster, which is located in Odense, Denmark. The company was co-founded in 2005 by the company’s CTO, Esben Østergaard, who wanted to make robot technology accessible to all by developing small, user-friendly, reasonably priced, flexible industrial robots that are safe to work with and on their own can be used to streamline processes in the industry.

The product portfolio includes the three collaborative robots UR3, UR5 and UR10 named after their payload in kilos. Since the first UR robot launched in December 2008, the company has experienced considerable growth with the user-friendly robots now sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. At just 195 days, the average payback period for UR robots is the fastest in the industry.

The company, now a part of Boston-based Teradyne Inc, is headquartered in Odense and has subsidiaries and regional offices in the USA, Spain, Germany, Singapore, Czech Republic, India, and China. Universal Robots has more than 300 employees worldwide.

Teradyne Inc

Listed on the NYSE, Teradyne is a leading supplier of automation equipment for test and industrial applications. Teradyne Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) is used to test semiconductors, wireless products, data storage and complex electronic systems, which serve consumer, communications, industrial and government customers. Industrial Automation products include Collaborative Robots used by global manufacturing and light industrial customers to improve quality and increase manufacturing efficiency. In 2015, Teradyne had revenue of $1.64 billion and currently employs approximately 4,200 people worldwide.

Platon/Roxspur acquired by TT Electronics

It’s always interesting when your old company gets taken over, once again! Particularly when you thought it was being screwed up, by the acquirers. So I was disappointed to have missed a news release nearly 15 years later, about a subsequent take-over in 2014.

The event was that Roxspur Measurement & Control was acquired by TT Electronics for GBP8m in July 2014. The good news was that the TT annual report for 2014 suggested that Roxspur provided a GBP0.4m operating profit, included in their results at the end of 2014.

Roxspur was absorbed into the TT Electronics Industrial Sensing and Control division,  which had a sales revenue of GBP61m in 2015, and an operating profit of GBP11.4m. So Roxspur is now a small-ish cog in this much bigger wheel.

TT Electronics describes itself as manufacturing a comprehensive range of temperature, pressure, flow and level products designed for aerospace, industrial, oil and gas, power generation and water management applications through its Roxspur sub-brands Brearley, Platon, Sensit and Nulectrohms. The TT Electronics total sales revenue in 2015 was reported as GBP524m, with an operating profit of GBP30m. So Industrial Sensing and Control is in fact a very significant part of the whole.

I, and everyone else, have to hope that the succession of acquisitions that were imposed on the Platon  variable area glass and metal tube flowmeter measurement business after 1999, have brought some of the employees some benefit.  Over the previous 8 years the Basingstoke based team had built the flow measurement business, which included the well known pre-Internet Flowbits catalogue, into a GBP10m business. So this small part of the corporate group at that time was probably worth more than GBP8m. It faced the biggest business trading profile challenge ever, with the arrival of the Internet, just as it was hyped into a broader paper based catalogue for industrial engineers, renamed as “Controlbits” by the new acquirers.

There are still paper catalogues around, in 2016, but hyped up earnings expectations appeared to kill off the Platon catalogue. The chaos catapulted me, after a year recovering from being made redundant, into a new career, which I do not regret. It also spawned some spin off start-up companies, which have done well. Even the Platon Pension scheme, which had to be the subject of a Government funded rescue, has at last started to pay out some of the pensions due, as from 2015.

So there were benefits! Ironically I did, at that time, and maybe still have, a minimal number of shares in TT Electronics!

 

Yokogawa invests into Silicon Valley fog computing

 

Yokogawa Electric Corporation announces that it has invested in FogHorn Systems Inc, a Silicon Valley start-up that is a leading developer of fog computing* technology. Yokogawa aims to foster development of fog computing technology through its investment in this company. In so doing, Yokogawa hopes to expand the range of solutions that it provides.

Due to the continued growth of cloud computing services and the huge number of devices that have access to cloud resources, there is a growing concern over issues such as network congestion and data processing delays. Fog computing is gaining traction as a technology solution to this problem.

Co-Investors with Yokogawa

FogHorn Systems, a pioneer in the development of software for fog computing applications with outstanding expertise in this field, has attracted the interest of various companies that are promoting IoT. Led by March Capital and GE Ventures, the company has succeeded in raising $12 million in funding from multiple investors, including Yokogawa, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, and Darling Ventures. There is also a group of investors who invested in the company prior to this round of fundraising. Yokogawa’s stake in the company is worth $900,000.

Yokogawa offers a wide range of control solutions that help its customers improve the safety and efficiency of their operations and make the most effective use of their assets. These solutions include field instruments, control systems, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and management information systems. Industrial IoT (IIoT) technology is making rapid inroads in the control field, and it is expected that fog computing’s enablement of real-time and distributed processing in edge computing applications will significantly accelerate its adoption.

Through this investment in FogHorn Systems, Yokogawa will gain access to the latest fog computing technologies and will also make available its knowledge and expertise in process control and plant operations that will help this company further refine its fog computing technology. Yokogawa aims to make use of fog computing to strengthen the solutions that it provides.

‘Process Co-Innovation’ from Yokogawa

Yokogawa has drawn up a long-term business framework and formulated a vision statement that reads: “Through ‘Process Co-Innovation’ Yokogawa creates new value with our clients for a brighter future. ‘Process Co-Innovation’ is a concept for an automation business that will utilize all of Yokogawa’s measurement, control and information technologies. Accordingly, Yokogawa will seek not only to optimize production processes but also the flow of material and information within and between companies, including their value and supply chains”.

Yokogawa is committed to working with customers to create value through the effective use of IIoT, a key to ‘Process Co-Innovation’. Tsuyoshi Abe, Yokogawa vice president and head of the company’s Marketing Headquarters, said of this investment: “Highly reliable and stable communications are an essential requirement in manufacturing and many other fields. Fog computing is a breakthrough that helps to enhance the use of cloud resources. It is also expected to provide Yokogawa many more opportunities to utilize IIoT in its control business. In line with our corporate brand slogan of ‘Co-innovating tomorrow’, Yokogawa will use FogHorn’s technology to develop new solutions and create new value in collaboration with its customers and partners.”

* Fog computing:

Fog computing is an architectural concept for the realization of edge intelligence and the suppression of communications with the cloud by establishing a ‘fog’ distributed computing layer between the cloud and devices in the field. Fog computing eliminates communications delays and fluctuations by locating the processing of certain data near the field devices that generate the data and sending only essential information to the cloud. As such, there are high expectations that this technology will lead to a number of new IoT applications.