Opportunity knocks for SolutionsPT

How will the amalgamation of Invensys Process Systems (IPS), Wonderware and Eurotherm to form Invensys Operations Management (IOM) affect the third parties that depend on those brands for their daily bread? At the time of the original announcement back in May, Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson suggested that one of the key advantages would be that it would enable the different brands to take advantage of each other's routes to market. Specifically that would suggest that both IPS and Eurotherm products could in future go through the Wonderware channel and vice versa.

In the U.K. the Wonderware channel means, in effect, SolutionsPT, the former Pantek which, as Wonderware distributor, goes to market in these islands as Wonderware UK and Wonderware Ireland. "What does it mean for us?" asked managing director John Bailey, repeating INSIDER's question. "We don't have that yet, but we've been told that this is going to create a lot more opportunity."

Quite what form that opportunity might take is still far from clear, however. Bailey believes that it may involve specific solutions created by involving Wonderware across all the different channels. "For example there may be Eurotherm products or solutions which might go more appropriately through the Wonderware channel. What would be really attractive would be if they fitted with our existing customer base."

Currently, Bailey concedes, there's a lot of confusion, but "it's the normal confusion one would expect with such a major change." Nevertheless, he adds, "They've named the top management team and we know where we fit." Where that is, is reporting to the same regional head as Eurotherm and IPS. "Stuart Batchelor is my ultimate new boss," he says, which, given the understanding of the channel concept which Batchelor must have gained during his days with Rockwell, gives Bailey grounds for confidence.

Why now?

Why pick this particular moment to make such radical changes? "They're in a fairly strong position right now―they're very bullish about their results―but they can see changes ahead, and they want to prepare for those changes," he says. As to the suggestion that the creation of IOM represents some kind of Wonderware coup, "There's no feeling from within Wonderware that Wonderware is driving this. It's true that Wonderware has provided some of the major components of the top management team, but they're not the majority. What it does do is scupper the view that they were going to sell Eurotherm."

And how is SolutionsPT itself weathering the economic storm? "Life is not very good, but we're still here. Specific parts of the business have declined, but it's not across the board. For example food and beverage continue to be strong. Our challenge at present is to handle the volume of product we're getting from Wonderware. We've never been so busy, but we've never made so little money."

With users assessing their future needs, the hope is that the situation will improve as the economy starts to recover. When will that happen? "Watch for people starting to use steel again," says Bailey. In the meantime, "Opportunity beckons―but we don't know what it is yet."

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