Emerson to Buy General Electric’s Intelligent Platforms Business

Emerson to Buy General Electric’s Intelligent Platforms Business

There was plenty of cool new products unveiled at last week’s Emerson Global Users Exchange. As a former product development manager, I liked the “peanut butter and chocolate” moment when Emerson’s engineers were trying to solve the human location in a plant problem. They realized that many customers already have a WirelessHART mesh network. Why don’t we use location tags with WirelessHART as the communications service? Cool.

Topping the news released during the week was announcement that Emerson has agreed to acquire Intelligent Platforms, a division of General Electric. Intelligent Platforms’ programmable logic controller (PLC) technologies will enable Emerson, a leader in automation for process and industrial applications, to provide its customers broader control and management of their operations.

This is a great acquisition. It reveals Emerson as a company that has its act together. This is the consolidation trend in the industry. Siemens has a complete portfolio (well, mostly). ABB recently acquired B+R Automation in a similar move. Schneider Electric added Foxboro and Triconex from Invensys to its mostly factory automation portfolio. So there are four major companies aligning their competitive offerings. And all are focused on digital transformation for their customers.

Even Rockwell Automation has built a process automation business over time. It recently shunned acquisition with its money and instead invested $1 billion for a little over 8% of PTC in order to achieve a closer partnership with ThingWorx (and a seat on the board). Maybe having an executive on the board, it can learn how Jim Hepplemann managed to build a company through acquisition.

Back to Emerson. GE IP (formerly know as GE Fanuc) has a line of PLCs, motion control, and HMIs. It hasn’t promoted its products for years, but they are still alive and well in Charlottesville, VA. This is a great strategic move.

As for GE? Well, we know that it is having a fire sale. I’d wondered about this part of the business. Now we all wonder about what’s left of GE Digital. We know from a Wall Street Journal article that it’s for sale. And also we know that the board just replaced the CEO evidently for not moving quickly enough. But…will anyone want GE Digital? I’m sure everyone has looked. Here’s a thought. What if it wound up with an IT company to complement these burgeoning IoT practices?

GE Spins Off Embedded Computing Business

GE Spins Off Embedded Computing Business

This is interesting news. I’ve noticed GE doing much reorganizing around the former automation businesses. I actually thought Bernie Anger was going off in a different direction–perhaps with the software group. Instead, he’s leading the embedded computing business (the old SBS and VMIC businesses, if you remember way back when) off on its own.

For some time, marketing in the old GE Fanuc, now GE Intelligent Platforms, business has become quite differentiated. They’ve tried some agencies for PR. But the software side (including the Cimplicity and Intellution businesses which “merged” into Proficy) are seemingly subsumed into the huge investment GE is making corporately in software–note the ads it is running on TV recently. I never know what to call the division, group, or name when I write about it.

Here is the press release regarding the divestiture.

Abaco Systems, an industry-leading supplier of sophisticated, open architecture electronic systems for aerospace, defense and industrial applications, today announced its separation from the General Electric Company (“GE”), opening a new chapter in the company’s history.

“This is a momentous day for Abaco Systems,” said Bernie Anger, president and CEO of Abaco Systems. “Today, we start the next stage in our company’s future – pursuing a strategy focused on satisfying the needs of customers looking for high-performance embedded technology and systems that can withstand the harshest of conditions.  I am very proud of our team who has prepared us for this day, and extremely thankful for the support that we have received from our customers during the transition process.”
“As an independent embedded technology and systems company,” continued Anger, “we see real opportunity to take our extensive experience, mission-critical technology and the repeatable business processes we have developed to continue building a business that combines a commitment to technical innovation with extreme focus on customer service. The company is positioned to benefit from long-term market trends, including shifts towards open architecture, interoperable systems, smarter purchasing initiatives and technological modernization.”
Customers have been notified of the change in ownership and have welcomed the news of the new Abaco Systems. Feedback from customers has been extremely positive:
“Thanks for letting us know about the GE transition to Abaco Systems,” said Rance  Myers, Director of Engineering at Honeywell Aerospace.   “We’re looking forward to the continued relationship and working with Abaco as we progress forward on new projects.”
“SNC is a long-time customer of the GE team and is very excited that they are moving to this new phase in their business,” said Greg Cox, Vice President, CNS at Sierra Nevada Corporation. “It demonstrates the strength of this cohesive team and we look forward to working with them in their new structure.”
Veritas Capital, a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services to government and commercial customers worldwide, acquired Abaco Systems from GE.  One customer noted the strength of the Veritas reputation:
“My staff was particularly pleased that Veritas acquired GE’s embedded computing business, because Veritas apparently has such an ‘active’ interest in the GE products,” said Dr. Mark Gaertner, Manager, Bomber Programs, Northrop Grumman Corporation. “That’s good for NGC and the USAF, because we need stability in our products and suppliers for programs that stretch out over the next 25+ years.  We look forward to continuing our relationship.”
“The good news for our customers is that, from day one, it is business as usual,” concluded Anger. “They will continue to deal with the people they have always dealt with, re-energized by an opportunity to really make a difference.”

Abaco Systems is a global leader in open architecture computing and electronic systems for aerospace, defense and industrial applications. Spun out of General Electric in 2015, we deliver and support open modular solutions developed to upgrade and enhance the growing data, analytics, communications and sensor processing capabilities of our target applications. This, together with our 700+ professionals’ unwavering focus on our customers’ success, reduces program cost and risk, allows technology insertion with affordable readiness and enables platforms to successfully reach deployment sooner and with a lower total cost of ownership. With an active presence in a significant number of national asset platforms on land, sea and in the air, Abaco Systems is trusted where it matters most.