Rockwell Automation to Acquire vMonitor for Connecting the Digital Oilfield

Rockwell Automation to Acquire vMonitor for Connecting the Digital Oilfield

The Manufacturing ConnectionHere is an interesting acquisition. It shows Rockwell’s continuing commitment to developing solutions in the process / production industry. It also partially answers a question that came to mind when I saw a press release that CEO Keith Nosbusch was speaking at a world Internet of Things conference. This fits.

Rockwell Automation Inc. announced that it has agreed to purchase vMonitor, a global technology provider of wireless solutions in the oil and gas industry.

(from the press release—superlatives theirs, I don’t know the company but I presume I’ll learn more in Houston week after next) VMonitor is a pioneer in digital oilfield implementation and remote operations worldwide. It delivers innovative monitoring and control solutions for wellhead and upstream applications that combine cutting-edge wireless instrumentation and communication with visualization software to help customers make more informed decisions and improve production.

VMonitor has the world’s largest installed base of wireless wellhead monitoring systems for natural and artificially lifted wells with more than 6,000 well sites for major oil and gas companies around the world.

“Strategically, vMonitor’s world-class digital oilfield technology and services, combined with our comprehensive portfolio of solutions, strengthen our ability to deliver end-to-end projects for the oil and gas sector,” said Terry Gebert, vice president and general manager, Rockwell Automation Global Solutions.

“Equally important, vMonitor’s capabilities will accelerate our development of similar process solutions and remote-monitoring services for water/wastewater, mining and other industries globally,” said Gebert.

“Our customers will benefit from the Rockwell Automation global solutions capabilities and complementary product lines to ensure we can collectively provide a seamless integrated solution,” said Rashed Saif Al Suwaidi, chairman of vMonitor. “Our employees will also join an innovative, fast-growing technology leader serving the worldwide oil and gas industry.” VMonitor has about 120 employees at offices located in Houston, Mumbai, India, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and other Middle East locations.

The company’s technologies include an all-wireless portfolio of wellhead sensors and transmitters, remote terminal units, gateways and modems, as well as turnkey monitoring, and control systems and services. These offerings cover a broad range of applications from oil and gas wells, pipelines, pumping and lift stations, to refineries and tank farms.

The acquisition is expected to close within two months. VMonitor will then become part of the Rockwell Automation Control Products and Solutions operating segment.

Rockwell Automation to Acquire vMonitor for Connecting the Digital Oilfield

Executive Reorg at Automation Supplier ABB


Greg Sheu of automation supplier ABB

Greg Scheu

ABB,power and automation technology group, is realigning responsibilities in its Group Executive Committee (EC) to put a strong focus on acquisition integration and the significantly expanded North American business portfolio.

Under these changes, Greg Scheu, who is currently responsible for Marketing and Customer Solutions (MC) on the EC, will lead the Group’s acquisition integration efforts and take over responsibility for North America including the United States, ABB’s largest geographical market. Scheu will retain responsibility for ABB’s service business, while the remaining activities of MC will be further developed by other members of the EC. All changes will be effective November 1, 2013.

“Greg has proven to be a successful team-oriented leader in ABB’s power and automation businesses in multiple divisional operating roles over many years. He has delivered strong results as the Baldor and Thomas & Betts integration leader, as well as in his current EC role responsible for Marketing and Customer Solutions,” said Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer.

“Greg’s appointment to this realigned role on the EC signals our strong commitment to realizing the value of our acquisitions through best-in-class business integration, as well as to profitable growth in North America where ABB has made great progress in market presence and scale over the past years,” he added. “Marketing and Customer Solutions has been an important organizational setup to get ABB to the next level of maturity and performance in cross-business collaboration and customer focus. It is now time to drive Group-wide collaboration in a stronger business-led setup.”

Scheu joined ABB in 2001 and has 29 years of experience in the power and automation industry, with a strong focus on North America. He previously worked for Rockwell Automation and Westinghouse Electric.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead ABB’s North America business, global acquisition integration and service businesses,” said Scheu. “I look forward to taking these important areas to the next level of profitable growth.”

Enrique Santacana, currently Country Manager in the US and Regional Manager in both the North and South America regions, will focus on profitable growth in South America.

Schneider Electric To Acquire All Shares of Invensys To Broaden Automation and Software Business

Schneider Electric CEO

Schneider Electric CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire

I decided to probe the depths of the Invensys Website this morning and found the following announcement that the boards of Schneider Electric and Invensys have reached agreement in which Schneider (or a wholly-owned subsidiary) will acquire all the shares of Invensys.

This is no doubt a mixture of good news and bad news for Invensys employees, business and the industry.

On the one hand, Schneider is much more stable at the top than Invensys. Not to mention financially stable. Invensys top management has been unstable, not focused, and obviously not really concerned with running a viable business.

On the other hand, Schneider’s direction over the past few years has been focused on energy–primarily electrical distribution and power quality. Its sole large venture into industrial automation software–the Citect acquisition–has not been managed for growth. Indeed, I seldom hear anything about that business. And that is mostly when I run into an old contact at a conference.

In like manner, Schneider has pretty much ruined a great old brand in Modicon. And, once again, news from the automation side of the business has been sparse for several years.

It will be interesting to see how Schneider integrates the many unfamiliar businesses–Foxboro/Triconex and Wonderware/Skelta. I, of course, hope for the best. If it leaves the three current Presidents in place and provide stability and investment, it can grow the business. It is certainly acquiring a lot of top talent. And maybe the combination really will provide “synergies” (I hate that word, since it is almost never true) that would reinvigorate the Modicon/automation line of business.

One factor probably not to be ignored is ABB. This move makes Schneider look more like ABB with new abilities to compete broadly. There could also be increased competition with Siemens in some areas.

Interesting times.

From the announcement that I lifted from the Invensys Website this morning:

The boards of Schneider Electric and Invensys are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement on the terms of a recommended offer pursuant to which Schneider Electric and/or a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schneider Electric will acquire the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Invensys. The Offer is to be effected by means of a scheme of arrangement of Invensys under Part 26 of the Companies Act.

Under the terms of the Offer, Invensys Shareholders will be entitled to receive:

For each Invensys Share: 0.025955 New Schneider Electric Shares; and 372 pence in cash.

The Offer represents a value of:

502 pence per Invensys Share, or £3.4 billion for the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Invensys, based on the closing price per Schneider Electric Share on 11 July 2013 (being the commencement of the Offer Period) of €58.06 and an exchange rate on 11 July 2013 of £/€ 1.1592. Based on the offer value of 502 pence per Invensys Share, the Offer represents a premium of approximately: 14 per cent to the closing price per Invensys Share of 440 pence on 11 July 2013 (being the commencement of the Offer Period); and 27 per cent to the volume weighted average closing price per Invensys Share of 396 pence in the three months to 11 July 2013 (being the commencement of the Offer Period).

Commenting on the Offer, Sir Nigel Rudd, Chairman of Invensys, said:

“Following the recent disposal of Invensys Rail, the agreement with the Pension Trustees and the re-organisation of the Group, the Invensys Directors believe that Invensys is strongly positioned to execute on its growth strategy going forward.

However, the Invensys Directors believe that the offer from Schneider Electric represents an attractive value for Invensys Shareholders and reflects the future growth prospects of the business and a significant proportion of the benefits which are expected to accrue from the strong strategic fit between Invensys and Schneider Electric.

Combined with the disposal of Invensys Rail and return of £625 million to shareholders, this represents a very attractive outcome for Invensys Shareholders. Furthermore, the members of the Invensys Pension Scheme will benefit from the ongoing support of a significantly larger, leading, global automation business.”

Commenting on the Offer, Mr Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Schneider Electric, said:

“We are delighted to announce the combination of Invensys and Schneider Electric in what is an exciting day for the stakeholders of both companies. The addition of Invensys’ businesses will considerably strengthen Schneider Electric’s overall offering to its industrial and infrastructure customer base, reinforcing us as a global leader in energy management solutions integrating power and automation, as well as leading software for customer efficiency. The transaction will allow Schneider Electric to benefit from increased scale and realise substantial synergy benefits from the combination. We believe our offer is compelling to Invensys Shareholders who will realise significant value for their holdings while having the opportunity to participate in the future strengths of the combined business.

We warmly welcome Invensys’ team and believe that the combined business will provide new and larger growth opportunities for employees and customers as well as offering Schneider Electric’s shareholders significant future value creation.”

White Paper on FDT2 Specification For Operations Management

White Paper on FDT2 Specification For Operations Management

FDT FrameworkFDT Group today released a new white paper, “New FDT2 Specification Provides Enhanced Security and Improved Performance” which is now available for download. The paper examines many of the key benefits of the released FDT2 specification focusing on the enhancements in security and performance. Several DTMs and Frame Applications based on the FDT2 specification have been released with many more in development. The enhanced specification addresses the demanding needs of both the process and factory automation applications, is backward compatible to earlier releases and is forward compatible with the future FDI (Field Device Integration) specification for process automation – protecting the installed investments.

As operations management users continue to see the added value of device information integration, they better understand the benefits of using FDT Technology which is vendor, device, system and network independent. The technology, which is now supported by all major global suppliers, provides an easy to use “window” into the intelligent device and works with any combination of field device protocols or networks. This window delivers device status information which can be used as part of a predictive maintenance strategy to help lower operating cost and prevent unscheduled shutdowns.

In addition to enhanced security and improved performance, the white paper covers other features including; the use of the Microsoft.NET technology platform, a new DTM architecture, the use of Common Components, backward compatibility, factory automation network ready and an outlook on why FDT Technology is uniquely positioned for the future with OPC UA and FDI compatibility built in.

FDT2 enhancements were driven by users and suppliers alike. For the users, the new specification delivers significantly higher speeds and improved overall performance while providing support for real time monitoring with background and batch tasks. In addition, it provides enhanced security, rich PLC integration and support of all major factory and process automation networks.
For suppliers, FDT2 provides device development in .NET and integration with Microsoft Visual Studio.

Schneider Electric Bids for Automation Company Invensys

Schneider Electric Bids for Automation Company Invensys

Henri Lachmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board

Henri Lachmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board

I have been digesting the news from earlier today that Schneider Electric has put in a $5 billion bid for Invensys. I’m a bit surprised at the timing, but not shocked at the bid.

I thought maybe Invensys was positioning for a break up, with Foxboro/Triconex going to Emerson and maybe the software business spun off. But the company no doubt prefers a single sale.

Schneider no doubt is looking longingly at its European rival, ABB, which bills itself as the “power and automation” company. The two overlap in markets a little on the power side. Schneider essentially has no process automation.  Its discrete (factory) automation business has been treated like the proverbial orphan child. Do you remember when Modicon was a force in factory automation? And, does anyone remember Citect–the software business it acquired years ago?

Almost all the press releases emanating from US marketing deal with energy issues and products. Very little on automation. Nothing on software. Of course, after Schneider acquired APC that company’s marketing team became the Schneider North Americas marketing team. I suppose they promote what they know.

Who knows, maybe Emerson’s David Farr will take the bait cast by the Invensys board and raise the ante. I doubt it, but I’m not an M&A genius.

Maybe Schneider has been benchmarking Siemens. That company had a poor record of integrating acquired companies. It has done a much better job lately. The UGS integration into Siemens PLM has been great.

Maybe Schneider can integrate Foxboro and Wonderware without killing them off. We can only hope.

A statement on the Schneider Website offers hope:

Schneider Electric believes that the strategic and financial rationale for this transaction, if consummated, is compelling. Schneider Electric is considering making an offer for Invensys in order to increase its focus on the attractive industry automation sector. The enlarged group would significantly expand its access to key electro-intensive segments where Schneider Electric offers leading low and medium voltage as well as energy management solutions. It would also gain a leading position in the fast-growing software business for industrial operational efficiency.

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