With an eye on strengthening its hand in the market for modular automation technology, Phoenix Contact Inc., Harrisburg, Pa., says it has acquired Entivity Inc., a personal computer (PC)-based control software supplier located in Ann Arbor, Mich. The acquisition provides Phoenix Contact with a U.S.-based software resource, as well as the products and know-how to meet control software applications based on PC technologies, the company says.
“This is a strategic acquisition for us,” says David Skelton, director of automation systems for Phoenix Contact, a provider of industrial automation, interconnection and interface products. “We’ve been working to provide a modular automation alternative to traditional control architectures, and adding Entivity’s software brands to Phoenix Contact’s solution portfolio further strengthens that vision.”
The installation of Entivity products on Phoenix Contact hardware platforms will provide PC functionality in embedded form factors, allowing for a greater range of applications, Skelton says. Phoenix Contact had already been working closely with Entivity on joint products and embedded customer solutions, under a formal arrangement begun in November 2002. “So it made sense at this time to bring the software into the fold of Phoenix Contact, to be sure that we have the ability to move forward at the speed that we want, and that we can provide the customer value that we want to deliver in all of our products,” Skelton explains.
Entivity was formed in 2001 by the merger of Steeplechase Software and Think & Do Software. Both product lines remain in the Entivity portfolio, and have traditionally met different market needs, says Skelton, with the Steeplechase product aimed at high-performance, high-speed PC-based applications, and the Think & Do software serving a lower-end market. A step-up version of the Think & Do product provides a migration path from smaller to larger systems, Skelton notes.
The Entivity acquisition will provide support for the expansion of Phoenix Contact’s Automationworx line of modular automation products, Skelton says. The approach relies on distributed PC-based control and Input/Output (I/O) modules—linked by Ethernet communication—which can be mixed and matched, reused and reconfigured as needed. Advantages include speed-of-launch, flexibility and scalability. “Our goal is to be the strategic alternative to traditional, more centralized control systems,” says Skelton. “The Entivity acquisition provides us a more complete set of products that will allow us to deliver this modular automation system.”