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?

Automation: New HMIs Are Rugged with Modular Expansion and Protocol Conversion

Automation: New HMIs Are Rugged with Modular Expansion and Protocol Conversion

Automation, HMI

Red Lion Graphite HMI Family

Red Lion Controls, the global suppliers of products in communication, monitoring and control for industrial automation and networking, has released its newest generation of Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) – the Graphite series of advanced operator interface panels. “With all cast-aluminum construction, the Graphite series provides the industry’s first rugged HMI solution to combine a wide range of versatile plug-in modules with protocol conversion, data logging and web-based monitoring and control.”

Red Lion’s Graphite series allows customers to easily connect, monitor and control their process in industries that include manufacturing, oil and gas, and water/wastewater. The series’ range of plug-in modules enables customers to easily create a solution for today, with an option to expand to meet changing business requirements. Further, organizations will realize a reduction in development and commissioning times over traditional systems that use an HMI paired with separate I/O, PLCs and other controllers.

“We have used just about everyone’s HMIs, and Graphite is by far the best in terms of appearance and functionality,” said Pierre de Giorgio, president at BlueBay Automation. “It is the most feature-rich HMI that we have ever used, the graphics and resolution are amazing, and with Red Lion’s Crimson 3.0 software, the move to Graphite is seamless.”

Graphite HMIs are available in eight different models, in sizes ranging from 7” to 15”, with sleek bezels that provide a relatively large display given their overall dimension. Both the 7” and 10” HMIs are available as sunlight visible models. Combined with Graphite’s rugged packaging, these models are ideal for harsh outdoor environments.

Offering a built-in web server, Graphite HMIs enable users to monitor and control their application via PCs, tablets or smartphones. SMS text-messaging and email alerts provide early warning of process issues, which helps to avoid costly downtime. In addition, its built-in protocol converter allows programmers to select 13 or more simultaneous protocols from a list of over 250 to seamlessly integrate disparate devices such as PLCs, drives, barcode readers and panel meters.

“The HMI has become the nexus of the machine, and Red Lion’s new Graphite series offers the highest level of protocol support to simplify even the most complex multi-vendor environments,” said Jeff Thornton, director of product management at Red Lion Controls. “By logging performance data and critical events, customers can implement process improvements or perform fault-finding activities.”

The new HMIs are supported by Red Lion’s Crimson 3.0 software, which is included at no extra cost. Crimson 3.0 makes it fast and easy to configure protocols, define data tags, set up sophisticated applications and create an attractive user interface. Designed for ease of use, Crimson allows customers to cost-effectively standardize on one HMI for all of their machines, regardless of the PLC or drive manufacturer used.