News analysis: GE Fanuc acquires Intellution

''It's all about technology and growth,'' stated Kevin Roach, GE Fanuc vp of Global Solutions Business to Control Engineering editors in an exclusive interview explaining what the company and its customers stand to gain by GE's acquisition of Intellution from Emerson.


''It's all about technology and growth,'' stated Kevin Roach, GE Fanuc vp of Global Solutions Business to Control Engineering editors in an exclusive interview explaining what the company and its customers stand to gain by GE's acquisition of Intellution from Emerson. Click here to read the related news story.

The widely speculated acquisition was finally announced October 22 during the ISA show giving GE Fanuc marketing people at the show plenty to talk about.

At first glance, two seemingly contradictory things stand out about the deal: Intellution's iFix products and GE's Cimplicity product line seem to be complementary, but software mergers are difficult to carry out.

Mr. Roach dealt with the first quickly. Teams have studied the products and strategies thoroughly and determined that there is very little overlap in the products. GE Fanuc has been strong in discrete manufacturing, especially automotive, and MES, while Intellution is strong in process industries, especially pharmaceutical. He sees new Intellution initiatives such as infoAgent and iHistorian brought into the MES arena strengthening the overall product.

Although no actual integration work can be done until all required approvals are obtained, believed to be accomplished in November, the GE team has already given a lot of thought to how the products will be integrated with a product path outlined. ''Look for some disruptive technologies to come out next year,'' Mr. Roach promised.

The automation market has seem some companies struggle to integrate all their purchases into a single strong company. GE, though, has worked hard to assure all anticipated value is realized from its acquisitions. Applying its vaunted six sigma methodology to over 500 past acquisitions, the company has determined the things to analyze, plan, and be aware of when bringing a new company into the fold. A team has been at work analyzing such things as product mix, sales channels, administration, potential hurdles, employee issues, and many more to assure success.

Mr. Roach points to three principles of integration:

  • Protect customers' existing data assets

  • Integrate best features of both products

  • Introduce disruptive technologies.

''The Intellution sales channel is one of the assets we purchased,'' stated Mr. Roach. ''It is one of Intellution's strengths. Combined, I think we'll have the best channel in the industry.''

Certainly, the combination will be among the biggest in terms of sales in the market. If GE's track record of success in integrating acquisitions continues, this merger will create a new force in the automation software market putting more pressure on players to continue to innovate.

This should be good news for users. Competition and innovation usually mean products that solve more problems at reasonable prices.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Gary A. Mintchell, senior editor

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