GE Fanuc realigns, grows Proficy, awards users

New Orleans, LA—GE Fanuc realigned its organization to better meet customer needs while striving to triple its revenue over the next few years.



GE Fanuc Proficy Console serves as a user “command center” for interfacing to Proficy applications and third-party legacy systems, to link all plant-floor applications in one environment.

New Orleans, LA— GE Fanuc realigned its organization to better meet customer needs while striving to triple its revenue over the next few years. It also significantly expanded the Proficy “Automation and Production” software family to include provisions for the next-generation Microsoft platform, and it awarded four customers for “imagination at work,” at its first GE Fanuc Discover Series Users Conference, held here, May 23-26.

Vision, structure, strategies
GE Fanuc Automation Americas Inc., a unit of GE Infrastructure, announced the new organizational vision and structure to help manufacturers improve competitive advantage through greater productivity, regulatory compliance, and reduced overall operational costs. The move follows several years of acquisitions in automation and controls, internal growth, and additional anticipated acquisitions aiming to triple GE Infrastructure revenue in about three years, from $3.4 billion in 2004 revenue to $10-12 billion, part of a “transformation of GE Fanuc and our product portfolio,” said Jeff Garwood, president and CEO for GE Fanuc Automation. (GE Fanuc is part of GE Infrastructure.) “This multi-year endeavor included acquisitions, organizational adjustments, product directional planning, internal and independent research, and strategic assessment,” he says. Based on independent research and GE Six Sigma studies into manufacturing challenges, the new structure seeks to:

  • Help automation users improve business performance on three different levels: products, processes, and business expansion;

  • Build automation solutions on award-winning open and layered platforms; and

  • Use technical expertise and domain experience to ensure “Value Delivered” equals or exceeds “Value Promised.”

That means products will meet varying OEM requirements for off-the-shelf and custom innovation, provide rapid response for lower downtime, and support open technology roadmaps, officials said. GE Fanuc will help automation users optimize production processes, leverage existing assets, improve and track quality, and improve regulatory compliance. GE Fanuc “solutions can provide a platform for expansion by enabling new business models, offering remote monitoring that eliminates traditional geographic boundaries, and leveraging agile operations,” the company said.

To facilitate development and implementation of open and layered solutions for industrial automation, GE Fanuc aligned its hardware and software product groups under Bill Estep, VP of the automation solutions business. These include PACSystems programmable automation controllers and the Proficy family of automation and production software.

“We are continuing to design, build, and invest in both our hardware and software—from our real-time information portal to our universal engineering development environment—through aggressive multi-generational product plans,” Estep said. Result for customers will be higher overall automation system performance, lower engineering costs, and significantly decreased concerns regarding short- and long-term migration and platform longevity, he said. Faster development of PACSystems, with a single control engineering and universal programming software, have resulted from acquisitions of embedded systems companies, VMIC and RAMiX. Customers, Estep said, now have application portability across multiple hardware platforms for a convergence of control choices. Acquisitions of Intellution and Mountain Systems positioned GE Fanuc growth in the process industries, greater historian capabilities, and a strong base for plant performance management.

Other changes include a reorganization of its hardware and software sales, global marketing, and professional services areas, including management of system integrators. No mention of staffing levels accompanied the announcements.

Proficy expansion/roadmap
GE Fanuc will expand Proficy Automation and Production software family to “allow users to standardize on a single manufacturing IT platform for managing real-time operations.” Proficy now includes programming, control, HMI/SCADA, historian, MES, and a real-time information portal. Roadmap of upgrades will include a data-model and event-based platform based on the Proficy Historian and Proficy Real-Time Information Portal technologies. The platform will include packaged integration with enterprise systems and Proficy HMI/SCADA applications and provide an extended library of tools and published APIs for third-party application development.

“A year ago, GE Fanuc launched the Proficy family as a vision for integrated production management—from control to ERP,” said Bernie Anger, VP of software technology for GE Fanuc Automation. “In the past year, hundreds of organizations have taken advantage of this powerful production management suite.” In 2004, Proficy included a dozen new releases across all applications; another 15 releases are planned in 2005. “Our core focus in 2005 is to enhance the fundamental infrastructure of Proficy with a data-model centric platform for managing production operations” for increased customer productivity.

In third-quarter 2005, Proficy Enterprise Connector will offer a packaged two-way information highway between the Proficy Platform and enterprise systems such as SAP. Goal is to allow users to achieve the “real-time enterprise by making business sense out of plant data in real time,” the company said. The connector also provides off-the-shelf support for Business-to-Manufacturing Markup Language (B2MML) schemas and standard SAP orchestrations. It is based on Microsoft Corp. BizTalk Server.

In fourth-quarter 2005, GE Fanuc plans to release the Proficy Platform—a Proficy Server and Proficy Console. The server centralizes production management based on an S95 data reference model and the Proficy Historian data management to provide a contextual information backbone for all Proficy applications. Based on OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) emerging standard, Proficy Server will allow users and GE Fanuc partners to extend the data model with User Defined Types and drive better workflow functionality. Proficy Server will greatly reduce customers’ manufacturing IT costs and provide a faster return on investment with common application licensing, managed deployment, integrated security, and improved diagnostics for greater uptime, the company said.

Proficy Console, based on the Proficy Real-Time Information Portal, offers multiple data-model views into operations, including equipment models for aggregating data by actual equipment layouts, product and production data models for representing material flow, and IT models for managing application licensing and deployment across the enterprise. Console features include an installable “solution” concept with pre-filtering User Interface choices and ability to guide a user through the system, a multi-host container to permit the same organizational and navigational paradigms across content from multiple internal and external data sources, and a user-centric information architecture that reflects Six Sigma research into how users think about their plants and require information for greater ease of use. The console also aligns with Microsoft Corp.’s upcoming “Avalon” display technology, expected as part the Microsoft Windows “Longhorn” Client Operating System. GE Fanuc says Avalon will enable GE Fanuc and its customers to build applications that provide rich, highly interactive user experiences.

Also in 2005, GE Fanuc is enhancing the engineering productivity of Proficy HMI/SCADA—Cimplicity and Proficy HMI/SCADA—iFix with Proficy Platform integration, new graphical tools and utilities, change management integration, and control system discovery and synchronization.

In 2006, GE Fanuc will release enhanced HMI/SCADA solutions with a new SCADA engine. SCADA developments will include new graphical editors, redundancy, and an expanded block library. The HMI/SCADA releases will also feature new device connectivity toolkits and rich data types with OPC UA support.

For 2007, GE Fanuc will offer visualization consolidation—with one integrated HMI/SCADA platform for operation, supervisory control and analytics, based on Longhorn and Avalon technologies.

Customer awards
GE Fanuc President and CEO Jeff Garwood also named “four outstanding organizations for highly exemplifying the spirit of‘imagination at work’—a core philosophy at GE—and applying it in their automation solutions.” GE Fanuc Automation Discovery Award recipients/achievements are:

  • Chaparral Steel—Automated manufacturing to drive on-time order shipments to customers as well as achieving higher reliability, increased uptime, and greater flexibility with smoother upgrades;

  • Kimberly-Clark Corp.—Exceptional use of open and layered technology to leverage a vast installed base of hardware and software; achieved consistency of visualization and execution systems across multiple global sites and focused on meeting the evolving business needs of electronic information—rather than infrastructure only;

  • Millar Western Forest Products—Used high-speed data acquisition from Binnington Development Corp. to achieve $15,000 per day ROI, substantial increase in throughput, optimized machine performance, and early detection of flaws and quality changes; and

  • Nissan North America Inc.—Revved up its first full-size vehicles with new plant in Canton, MS, achieving uptime approaching Six Sigma, 75% smaller engineering staff than competitors, 70% decrease in maintenance training, and 50% reduction in engineering training.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief,

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