Fanuc USA Jumps Into the Arms of Rockwell

Oct. 28, 2010
Fanuc America is joining with Rockwell in a collaboration designed to offer closer integration between CNC and programmable automation controller (PAC) environments

Fanuc America is joining with Rockwell in a collaboration designed to offer closer integration between CNC and programmable automation controller (PAC) environments, in an effort aimed at improving the ability for both companies to deliver integrated automation solutions to key vertical market segments, such as automotive and aerospace. The two companies will work together on connectivity between their respective controller platforms through open communication technologies, such as the EtherNet/IP and FL Net protocols.

Coming so soon after the divorce between GE and Fanuc, announced in August 2009 and completed December 11 last year, does this marriage possibly arise on the rebound? Explaining the logic behind the decision to separate the two businesses at the time, Fanuc honorary chairman Dr. Seiuemon Inaba said "...both companies [GE and Fanuc] further expanded into adjacent segments. Today’s market conditions are such that it's imperative we pursue these expanded opportunities, and while we have achieved great things together, it's in both our best interests that we focus our efforts on industry opportunities unique to our respective companies and that will deliver greater benefits to both our companies."

Fanuc needs an integrated solution

Now both Fanuc and Rockwell cite customer demand for integrated solutions based on open platforms as a key driverp—encouraging them to tie together in this new collaborative effort. Tomoaki Ishibe, president, Fanuc FA America said: "This announcement is an important step to furthering Fanuc FA America's strategy to focus on what we do best, which is the sales and support of Fanuc's world class CNCs, while working towards more flexible open interfaces to complementary automation systems. Working with Rockwell Automation here in the Americas is a natural fit, given their industry leadership in programmable automation controllers and our shared customer base." [CNC is computer numerical control, normally associated with component production on machine tools] The two companies say they will "jointly document integration methods, quantify integration savings and work with joint customers to solve their application challenges, leveraging a fully integrated CNC and PAC platform." Or alternatively, Fanuc America will rely on Rockwell to fill the gap left by GE.

Meanwhile, Fanuc's former partner, now called GE Intelligent Platforms, have just announced the latest version of the PACMotion advanced motion controller, designed for use in packaging, material handling, and automated assembly applications. Paul Derstine, Product Manager for GE Intelligent Platforms' Control and Communications Systems introduced it by saying: "This new version will allow users to connect a much broader range of devices to the exceptional functionality of PACMotion." That actually sounds like GE is also offering to provide open interfaces for sensors to connect to complementary automation systems.