While at the ARC Forum in Orlando this week, I met with Invensys Operations Management Vice President Peter Martin in order to get an update on the company’s restructuring.

To frame the discussion, events over the past five years or so have appeared to those outside the company as a perhaps disjointed series of discrete events. Announcement and publicization of ArchestrA; announcement and publicization of InFusion; announcement of reorganization creating Invensys Process Systems from Foxboro, Avantis, Triconex and SimSci Esscor; announcement of creation of Invensys Operations Management composed of IPS, Wonderware and Eurotherm. Throw in a few surprise executive moves, and the world wondered what was going on there.

The actuality of the evolution really should be mapped more like one of those 1960s maps of the gravitational forces of the solar system than one of those popular T-shirt graphics of the progression of humans from Neanderthal to soccer player. Imagine a continuum of planning and technical development with an occasional “bump” of publicity.

Martin says that a core group from the various entities met to explore ways of integrating the companies assembled by Invensys–which at that time resembled a holding company more than a unified manufacturing company. They decided to first unify the technology, then bring the organizations together. I had hints of this from previous leaders such as Mike Bradley, then President of Wonderware and from Martin himself. Unfortunately, IOM management never really sat down and gave a conherent explanation of what was going on–and marketing proceeded to put spin on parts along the way.

Deciding that re-writing code from all the products in order to integrate them was not workable, a team working under the direction of Pankaj Mody, now chief technical officer of IOM and then CTO of Wonderware, began work on a new software foundation. Working with Microsoft to develop a .Net platform based on services rather than the older COM technology, the team developed a platform that was later publicized as ArchestrA. Not really a product, it is the foundation of the way to integrate and evolve the Foxboro DCS platforms and then add Wonderware and eventually Triconex. The culmination of the Foxboro stage led to the announcement of InFusion, the Enerprise Control System. Outsiders were confused as to what was Foxboro and what was Wonderware–a situation unfortunately exacerbated by the marketing message. But there was no difference. The “companies” were actually in the process of coming together by evolving to a new and modern platform.

The later products from Wonderware and now the InFusion 2.0 platform introduced this week are just the latest stages of the evolution. It’s also important to keep in mind that InFusion has hooks so that customers can not only migrate to the new control layer from Foxboro and Wonderware, but they can also migrate from other legacy DCS platforms.

IOM is now poised organizationally to exploit all this work in the market. This is a very important and interesting trend in the automation market that holds the promise of helping engineers migrate systems to new platforms without ripping everything out. Making manufacturing and processing more efficient and profitable is the name of the game.

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