In a move that company executives say “quickly makes us more competitive” in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)/machine builder sector, automation systems vendor Invensys has acquired InduSoft, a provider of HMI and embedded intelligent device software, to enhance its own human machine interface hardware and software offerings.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, and founded in 1997, InduSoft has delivered more than 250,000 HMI software licenses to more than 700 customers worldwide, primarily industrial computer manufacturers and machine and system builders, who embed InduSoft’s software into their products.
“With InduSoft we can now offer everything from basic embedded HMI devices to manufacturing operations, asset management and ERP integration,” said Norm Thorlakson, vice president of HMI and supervisory software and solutions at Invensys. “InduSoft technology quickly makes us more competitive and gives us immediate entry to new customers and a stronger OEM sales channel, with a focus on machine builders and embedded systems. We are confident it will make us much more attractive.”
Wonderware users will now be able buy industrial devices with InduSoft software, and InduSoft users will be able to expand their solutions with Wonderware supervisory, historian and manufacturing operations management software.
InduSoft has been helping OEMs and machine builders meet the needs of their customers with InduSoft Web Studio, InduSoft EmbeddedView, and InduSoft CEView. Machine builders and OEMs develop template applications with InduSoft Web Studio that allow them to quickly develop HMIs for their machines, and individualize them for customer requirements. Applications can include digital I/O displays, motion capture and voice interfaces for hands-free operation, and menu navigation systems, for example.
InduSoft will continue to be managed by its existing executive team, adding employees to Invensys operations in the United States, Brazil and Germany.
Marcia Gadbois, president of InduSoft, said the deal will “allow us to provide a broader, end-to-end HMI, SCADA and MES solution to our customers. Together, our software tools will make it easier for them to integrate their information and automation systems. They will continue to work with the same strong InduSoft team, and we will ensure they continue to receive the exceptional products and service they have come to expect from us. But now they will be backed by a company with global capabilities and an excellent worldwide reputation.”
The acquisition of InduSoft represents “the continuing execution of our strategy to strengthen our portfolio through inorganic means, enabling us to target additional segments across our portfolio,” said Ravi Gopinath, president of Invensys’ software business. Invensys did that in June when it acquired the SmartGlance mobile reporting product of Sarla Analytics, LLC, a technology that enables development of products that leverage the power of mobile devices and managed systems via cloud and SaaS models.
The move also comes on the heels of a July announcement that Invensys is itself on track to be acquired, by the end of the year, by Schneider Electric. Discussions on HMI & SCADA message boards show that end users are nervous about that acquisition because they do not know what it means for the future, given that Schneider Electric’s (formerly Citect’s) ClearSCADA product competes with Wonderware in some segments. Users don’t want to see one or the other be phased out.
Because InduSoft’s technology seems more of a complement to Wonderware than a competitor, this acquisition will not likely produce such concerns.
Food and Beverage OEM Example
Stock America developed an FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliant HMI for use in their retort and sterilization machines using InduSoft’s Web Studio. The application communicates with Allen Bradley CompactLogix and AB SLC 5/05 PLCs using drivers native to InduSoft Web Studio. Operators are restricted base on security level and process changes are all logged. Reports are generated at the end of each batch and sent to an SQL database.
One feature that Stock America developers found useful is the tag structure InduSoft Web Studio uses, which makes it possible to use indirect tags, create tag classes (structures), and change tag names on the fly. Another useful function is the use of thin clients, which lets Stock America customers access their fully visualized HMIs from an office, or a computer away from the plant floor.