Invensys Sees Opportunity in Challenging Global Market

America's Unconventional Gas and Oil Among Factors Complicating Global Project Outlook

By Keith Larson

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Take an extensive installed base of loyal customers. Add top-notch industry expertise. Mix in a spanking new process automation system designed to deliver outsized returns at the lowest total cost of ownership. Pretty soon, it's easy to see why Gary Freburger is bullish about Invensys' place in the process automation market. Freburger, president of the systems business for Invensys, sat down with a group of business press editors at this week's Foxboro & Triconex Global Client Conference and painted a compelling picture of the company's potential to thrive in a challenging but opportunity-rich global landscape.

For Freburger, a key competitive differentiator for Invensys is its focus on adding value to its clients' operations. For the past year, the company has first emphasized longer term, big picture discussions around what its clients need to accomplish over the next several years. Only then do discussions turn to Invensys' ability to help make this vision a reality. "We bring in a group of people with expertise across a broad portfolio of industries, applications and technologies," Freburger said. "We can talk from instruments all the way up to enterprise control. And it's not just theory, it's 'This is how we can help you get it done.'"

The company's new Foxboro Evo process automation system--with its industry leading software and more compact and more powerful controllers and I/O--will also contribute to the company's success, Freburger believes. "We'll be able to reduce cost of capital and increase returns for our clients," Freburger said. "We'll continue to grow by having economically-driven discussions around the benefits we can bring."

If Invensys' competitive footing is strong, challenges remain in the global market. Growth is soft in much of the developed world, with most of the systems level activity focused on upgrading and migrating aging and obsolete systems. "Still, people are finding new ways to get more out of systems, and they also have other priorities," Freburger said. "If it's running well, why change?" This focus on modernization and migration in the developed economies will persist for the next five to 10 years, Freburger believes, although gains in efficiency and productivity will drive some projects forward.

Many developing economies also have slowed on the backside of the latest global recession, and even China has retreated from its torrid pace of expansion. And while political unrest has further contributed to the delay of some large greenfield projects around the world, others have "slid to the right" due to uncertainties around America's development of unconventional gas and oil, Frebruger said. These new sources of energy have unbalanced many a spreadsheet and, as a result, companies are rethinking these large investments to make sure the expected returns are sustainable, Freburger said.

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