Strategic tie-ups the way ahead for automation providers

Paul Boughton

As part of their long-term growth strategies, major automation providers are increasingly turning to alliances and takeovers. Sean Ottewell reports.

Invensys Operations Management, a global provider of technology systems, software solutions and consulting services to the process and manufacturing industries, has entered a strategic relationship with Cognizant, a leading provider of consulting, technology and business outsourcing, to help improve the design, development and delivery of Invensys Operations Management's products and solutions for customers around the globe.

"This relationship is another important step in executing our long-term growth strategy, part of an initiative we undertook several months ago that will help us become a high-performing, integrated technology company," said Sudipta Bhattacharya, chief executive officer and president, Invensys Operations Management. "Leveraging a reputable and proven partner like Cognizant accelerates our ability to expand capacity and move into adjacent markets."

Under the terms of the initial five-year agreement, Cognizant will serve as Invensys Operations Management's global development partner. Cognizant intends to recruit and make an offer of employment to 400 Invensys Operations Management employees as part of its strategic offering to supply an array of development and maintenance services, including the development of manufacturing engineering, enterprise manufacturing intelligence, advanced applications, operations management, measurement and instrumentation, safety and critical control, supervisory control and data acquisition, and distributed control systems.

"Externally, our customers and ecosystem partners should see no difference in our products or their working relationship with us," Bhattacharya said. "In fact, by leveraging our combined expertise and capabilities to deliver greater value, our customers should receive the intended benefits of this new relationship: faster time-to-market on new solutions, faster innovation, faster ramp-up on resources and a deeper focus on the design and development of our strategic product portfolio. We believe that this long-term relationship will increase our capacity to develop strategic technology, create the flexibility to respond to changing business priorities and significantly increase our capability to quickly deliver new solutions while continuing to support our large customer base."

Francisco D'Souza, president and chief executive officer, Cognizant, said, "We look forward to working with Invensys Operations Management as they take a leadership position in the operations management space while maintaining their commitment to their clients and stakeholders. We have been very impressed with the Hyderabad development team at Invensys Operations Management and are excited at the potential innovation we will jointly drive into the manufacturing technology market place as they blend into Cognizant. With our global footprint and scale, we have the resources to make significant investments in infrastructure and skills development, as well as to provide attractive growth opportunities for our employees, all of which will help Invensys Operations Management accelerate delivery of their products and solutions."

Meanwhile, Invensys Operations Management has joined Intergraph's SmartPlant Alliance, integrating its software with Intergraph's SmartPlant Enterprise engineering solutions to enable highly automated project execution and improve the transfer of data from engineering, procurement and construction companies (EPCs) to plant owner operators.

"Aligning with SmartPlant Enterprise will help IPS meet our objective of changing how control system engineering is approached," said Neil Holden, IPS vice president of global processes and systems. "By compressing design and build schedules to make critical data available whenever it is needed, we can help improve our clients overall manufacturing, installation, construction, commission and training operations."

As a SmartPlant Alliance technology member, IPS has developed complementary interfaces between Intergraph's SmartPlant Instrumentation, SmartPlant P&ID, and SmartPlant Foundation with IPS' industrial automation solutions. These include Foxboro field devices and control systems, Triconex critical safety systems, SimSci-Esscor simulation software, Avantis enterprise asset management software, and the world's first truly open enterprise control system, InFusion. IPS engineering solutions are interfaced with SmartPlant Enterprise to offer a unique approach to design, installation and the commission of control systems that reduce costs, schedule timelines and risks.

Intergraph SmartPlant Enterprise is an integrated suite of solutions for EPCs and owner operators to design, construct, safely operate and maintain a plant throughout its entire life cycle. The interfaced IPS and Intergraph solutions will enable all parties to work with a common engineering solution to better manage plant information for enhanced plant safety and efficiency from design through decommissioning. The two solutions are ideal for ongoing maintenance operations, as plants and assets are continually changing and being revised after handover to the owner operator.

"Many of our customers have standardised on SmartPlant Instrumentation and SmartPlant P&ID as their single environments for managing field instrumentation and process layout," Holden said. "The combination of IPS technology and SmartPlant Enterprise offers a unique and powerful solution, and SmartPlant's intelligent, rule-based design capabilities make project execution much faster and efficient. This complementary interface enables our clients to access valuable information quickly and easily, helping them to reduce downtime, optimize operations and improve their overall return on plant assets."

Patrick Holcomb, executive vice-president, Intergraph Process, Power & Marine, said, "We are pleased to welcome IPS to the SmartPlant Alliance and to offer our customers new and innovative solutions that improve their productivity and competitive edge. This alliance will significantly shorten the engineering cycle, provide consistent data and enable owner operators to execute plant control modernisation projects faster and with less risk."

Bigger clean energy presence

Honeywell has signed a definitive agreement valued at approximately US$400 million to acquire the RMG Group, a Kassel, Germany-based global leader in natural gas measuring and control products, services and integrated solutions.

RMG will be integrated into Honeywell Process Solutions, part of Honeywell's Automation and Control Solutions business group. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals.

Founded in 1931 in Kassel, RMG specialises in the design and manufacture of natural gas control, measurement and analysis equipment including flow metering technology, regulating products and safety devices for oil and gas companies. RMG has estimated 2009 sales to be US$290 million.

Norm Gilsdorf, president of Honeywell Process Solutions, said: "RMG's technology complements our industrial platform and will ultimately enable us to provide our existing customers, as well as new customers, with broader solutions that span the entire gas supply chain."

The acquisition will build Honeywell's presence particularly in the areas of natural gas transportation, storage, distribution and industrial consumption. RMG aligns strongly with Honeywell's field instrumentation and control solutions (Fig. 1). For example, RMG's gas flow meters and regulating devices complement Honeywell's pressure and temperature transmitters, as well as liquid natural gas (LNG) level gauges. Also, the acquisition of RMG supports Honeywell's strategy to offer solutions that enhance energy efficiency; nearly 50 per cent of Honeywell's current technology delivers energy savings and efficiency.