Parker Hannifin acquires SSD Drives

By Control Engineering Staff August 25, 2005

The pace of acquisitions (and consolidation) continues in the motion control and drives sector. On Aug. 9, 2005, Parker Hannifin Corp. and SSD Drives Holding Ltd. jointly announced Parker’s acquisition of SSD (formerly Eurotherm Drives) from private equity firm Compass Partners International Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. This follows Parker’s Dec. 2004 acquisition of Trilogy Systems (direct-drive linear motors and systems) and that of Bayside Controls (complete precision motion control systems) in Feb. 2005. The latest acquisition offers complementary technology, products, and customers—adding SSD Drives leadership in industrial automation and drives technology to Parker’s strong presence in the precision electromechanical market, said the announcement. Parker Hannifin is a global, leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, with annual sales exceeding $8 billion, while SSD Drives had fiscal 2005 annual revenues of $165 million.

SSD Drives manufactures ac and dc drives, along with servo drives, motors, and systems for automated industrial process applications. It employs about 1,000 people worldwide. The acquisition promises to add substantial international presence for Parker, through SSD Drives’ main manufacturing plants in the U.K., France, Germany (also in the U.S.), 60% of business in Europe, and sales presence in more than 40 countries.

‘This is a strategic acquisition for Parker. It not only significantly increases our automation product offering, but SSD Drives’ well-established footprint in Europe and presence in China also gives us a very strong position in the global electromechanical and drives market,’ said Parker Corp. chairman and CEO Don Washkewicz.

SSD Drives’ CEO Dan Barnhouse added (in part), ‘The combination of vision, talents and skills from our two leading companies will ensure that together we will have all the capabilities needed to compete successfully in serving a broad range of industrial customers around the world. This combination will create an exciting new force in global automation.’

A bit of history: SSD was founded in 1974 as Shackleton System Drives and went on to become Eurotherm Drives (part of Invensys), reportedly the largest British manufacturer of variable-speed drives. Later, Invensys sold off its drive systems business (Eurotherm Drives and Parvex) to a company formed by the management team and investment partners, Compass International. In 2004, the name was again changed to SSD Drives to differentiate it from Eurotherm temperature and chart recorder business that stayed with Invensys.

The new Parker acquisition will become part of the company’s Automation Group and is expected to add to earnings within the first full year of integration.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering,