As the Invensys Foxboro and Triconex 2013 Client Conference got underway today in San Antonio, Texas, company executives paused first to pay homage to the past, acknowledging the 30th anniversary of its Triconex safety system brand. But the look back quickly turned forward, as the assembled system user community got their first look at the company's new process automation offering, the Foxboro Evo system. The new system launch, together with the company's pending acquisition by France's Schneider Electric, lent an air of excited anticipation and new beginnings to the proceedings attended by more than 500 of the company's system users from 24 countries around the globe.
Peter Martin was there at the launch of the company's last major control system release, the I/A Series, back in 1987. Then a fresh-faced design engineer (and now a somewhat more seasoned vice president of business value solutions), Martin recalled Foxboro's pledge at the time to keep its users "continuously current," providing an evolutionary path forward that enabled users to take advantage of new technology without ripping and replacing previous generations of investment. "We've kept that promise," Martin said.
Over the past quarter century, Foxboro and now Invensys worked diligently to bring new technologies developed or acquired into the control realm, Martin said. "We adopted an evolutionary approach design to accommodate early adopters and the most conservative fringe," he said, citing among other firsts the development of the company's service-oriented process automation and information architecture, the launch of the Infusion enterprise control system and incorporation of Skelta workflow technology throughout the Invensys portfolio. "Our goal is to continue to future-proof your operations," Martin said.
That tradition continues with the launch of the company's new Foxboro Evo process automation system, continued Michael Caliel, president of software and industrial automation for Invensys. Further, Caliel declared, it marks the dawn of a new age of enlightenment for every function with the organization. "Today's challenges go far beyond technology; they're about how do you apply technology to drive bottom-line business value," Caliel said. Proliferating mountains of data -- presented without context if presented at all -- are hurting operations more than they're helping. "What's needed is a system that can get out in front of these challenges to ensure operational integrity while providing operational insight," Caliel said.
"As the pace of global business accelerates, automation technology becomes increasingly important in helping manufacturers focus on finding more value within their operations and automation assets," added Chris Lyden, Invensys senior vice president. "If users in the control room and in the field can better interpret the growing volume and complexity of the information they receive within the proper context of procedures and operational risk, then they will make more valuable contributions to the business. The Foxboro Evo system is loaded with new features that will help them do that, and it is structured to evolve with them as they and their companies change and grow."
Caleil's opening remarks would have been incomplete without some mention of the company's pending $5.2 billion acquisition by Schneider Electric, expected to be completed by the end of 2013 or early 2014 pending formal shareholder approval and anti-trust review. And since the companies are required by law to continue to operate independently until then, little of substance can yet be said.
Caleil did stress, however, Schneider's stated view that Invensys will be a key contributor to the combined companies' continued future growth. In a video message to conference attendees, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Schneider chairman and CEO, noted that the new Foxboro Evo system "is an important step in Invensys' continued technology leadership. You can feel confident in Schneider's commitment to support the new system when the acquisition is finalized."