Automation Companies, Growth and Diversification

April 15, 2011
Adding to my April 11 post on Business Growth in Automation, more news from automation companies is coming in to Automation Central here in Sidney, Ohio.
Beckhoff Automation just announced revenues for 2010—and they had jumped 46 percent year over year. Surprisingly, that puts it only slightly behind B&R Automation. Each is around $500 million. Pretty substantial for automation companies. Both are showing strong growth in Asia as well as in North America. Many of the larger automation companies have long had electrical power business units. Most of the recent acquisitions of ABB and GE, for example, have been mainly power and energy oriented. Likewise, parts of Schneider Electric's portfolio of companies have long traditions in power and energy. News of the last week has surfaced that Schneider is pursuing Tyco for acquisition. That acquisition, if it comes to pass, would help it keep up with its European rivals ABB and Siemens. The last ABB "Power and Automation World" user conference had little attention focused on automation. When I stopped at the Schneider Electric booth in Hannover, I asked about automation. "It's over there in the corner," I was told, "people are most interested in energy these days." So, I ask this open question soliciting ideas. Are the larger companies moving from automation to energy and leaving the automation segment open for smaller upstart companies? What do you see? (Note: next week I'll be in Orlando for the 2011 edition of Power and Automation World. Maybe part of an answer will be revealed there. Stay tuned.)For more Feed Forward content, click here.

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