About Invensys and Schneider Electric
I’ve avoided writing about this subject for a while, waiting to see what happens when the dust settles. The dust hasn’t completely settled, but it is clear that there are two camps into which most of the thought leaders that I listen to have divided.
These two camps basically are “Schneider will screw it up badly” and “Schneider understands how good Invensys will be for them and won’t mess it up”. Both camps marshall evidence for their positions.
In the screw-it-up camp, people note the Modicon, Andover Controls, Citect, and Telvent acquisitions, and the Solaia mess, which have not gone perhaps as well as Schneider would have hoped.
In the won’t-mess-it-up camp, people note that Schneider’s leadership has changed, which it has, and drastically, too. They note that the CEO’s office is in Hong Kong, not Paris, and that the current incumbents have acknowledged their previous mistakes and have a firm purpose of amendment.
Many, but not all, of Invensys’ competitors are in the screw-it-up camp, while most Invensys employees (obviously) and alumni are in the won’t-mess-it-up camp. In both camps there is some considerable wishful thinking and whistling past the graveyard.
From the end-users’ point of view, we all had better join the won’t-screw-it-up camp.
Invensys has such a huge installed base, history, and have been engaged in a very extensive and very expensive revamp of their hardware and software offerings for the past five or six years. Much of this R&D effort has just come to fruition, with the Foxboro EVO combined control and safety system, released last month, and the Wonderware InTouch 2014 released this week. Invensys also has the most advanced simulation and training software and systems, including VR HD training simulators that actually work and are installed in operating plants. Invensys has state of the art asset management software, advanced process control software, and many more.
Even in reduced circumstances, Foxboro field instrumentation for pressure and Coriolis mass flow, have continued to be state of the art, or close to it.
But more importantly, it has been the Invensys people who have not only kept the old firm alive, but also kept it in the forefront of process automation thought and design. Any integration plan that doesn’t depend on effectively utilizing the talents of the Invensys staff is doomed to fail.
Schneider needs Invensys’ products as much or more than they need Invensys’ management, scientists, product managers, and distribution channels, and the Invensys customer base. And they need all those things, every single one.
Schneider Electric needs what Invensys can bring to Schneider’s party as a functioning whole more than they need the money that could be made by “acquire, devour and spit out” tactics.
The ArchestrA system platform, Foxboro EVO and InFusion can slip right into the spaces allotted for what was the developing StruxureWare portfolio. The rest of the Invensys hardware and software portfolio likewise. Even the building automation portion of Invensys can track with and be useful for Schneider’s efforts to become a leading building automation vendor.
Barring last minute intervention by the US Government or the EC courts, it is certain that the acquisition will go through.
Yesterday, Dr. Ravi Gopinath, president of Invensys’ software group, said in his keynote address at the Invensys Software User Group, that an integration team, headed by Mike Caliel, president of Invensys Controls and Software, has already started working out the details of how an integration could be made following the acquisition. Gopinath believes that there will be synergies, and that will count more than any integration casualties and reorganizations will cost. Many Invensys executives, speaking off the record, agreed and felt that they’d received sufficient reassurances from Schneider management that they are not worried. Or at least not much.
In fact, there could be serious growth of an Invensys powered by Schneider. Clearly, in the past decade, at least, there has been a de-emphasis on the Foxboro sensor business because Invensys didn’t have the money to invest in all details of its business, and it chose to invest in the Foxboro EVO and Industrial Software products instead. Backed by Schneider, Invensys could return to the paramount field sensor and controls company that Foxboro was, historically, and if they could acquire a major valve company, suddenly, Schneider+Invensys could be a force to be reckoned with in process automation.
If you are an end-user with Invensys products in your plant, you might try letting Schneider know how YOU think they ought to deal with this major acquisition, from your point of view.