Schneider was back on the acquisition trail last month, announcing that it is to pay AU$200 million or about Euro140 million for New South Wales, Australia-based SCADAgroup. SCADAgroup is expected to generate revenues of more than AU$110 million or Euro75 million in the current year to June 2010 and employs some 500 staff in Australia, the U.K. and North America. Its principal activities are the provision of SCADA and telemetry solutions to the water and waste water, oil & gas and electric power sectors, which Schneider says are among the key market segments it is currently targeting.
Explaining the thinking behind the deal, Schneider Electric Industry business executive vice-president Michel Crochon said, "Schneider Electric acquires a global telemetry platform to address the needs of the attractive water, waste-water and oil & gas industries for which remote monitoring and control are critical to their large and dispersed sites. The combination of technologies, channels, customer knowledge and complementary execution capabilities will put us in an excellent position to capture new opportunities in these fast growing markets."
SCADAgroup has itself been built by acquisition. Its Serck Controls operation in Australia and the U.K., for example, has its origins in Australian water and waste water telemetry group Hunter Watertech which, in 2002 acquired the Serck SCADA and telemetry business based in Leamington Spa in the U.K. from Roxspur, before changing its own name to what it believed was the more widely recognised Serck a year later.
At the same time it extended its interests beyond the normal confines of SCADA and telemetry by acquiring Rotork's Control & Safety operation, thereby gaining a broader process control system integration and contracting capability.
Other members of the SCADAgroup portfolio are Trio DataCom, an Australian manufacturer of wireless products and systems, the U.S.-based Accutech/Adaptive Instruments instrumentation business, which also boasts an expanding line of wireless instrumentation, and Control Microsystems, well-known in both North America and Europe for its SCADA hardware and software including, notably, its SCADAPack RTUs and PLCs of which some 150,000 units are now in service.
Synergies with Citect?
Schneider will inevitably be seeking to exploit the synergies between the SCADAgroup properties and the Citect SCADA business it acquired in 2006. The parallels between the two operations are closer than might be appreciated at first sight. Citect had its origins within the Australian operations of Alfa Laval, while SCADAgroup, or a least the Serck/Hunter Watertech part of it, started life as a buyout from an Australian water utility and for some years relied on Citect for its HMI software.
By continuing to build its capabilities in upstream oil and gas, pipelines and utilities, Schneider is challenging the major process automation vendors on territory which they themselves tend to see as peripheral to their core activities in refining, petrochem and chemicals based on their DCS capabilities. The approach is in intriguing contrast to that taken by other vendors seeking to expand into process, such as Rockwell and GE, building Schneider's process automation credentials in closely associated market segments with end users, many of whom also have mainstream process automation requirements. It's a strategy which could be rapidly accelerated and indeed brought to fruition at any time by the acquisition of a mainstream DCS vendor.