GE Fanuc Sets Its Course

The automation vendor unveils an organizational re-alignment and product roadmap to meet changing customer needs.

GE Fanuc Automation Americas Inc., a unit of GE Infrastructure located in Charlottesville, Va., has announced a new organizational vision and structure to “closely align the company’s strategies and solutions with the needs of the industrial community to help manufacturers improve their competitive advantage through greater productivity, regulatory compliance and reduced overall operational costs.”

“To creatively, consistently and flexibly solve our customers’ toughest challenges, we embarked on a transformation of GE Fanuc and our product portfolio,” says Jeff Garwood, president and chief executive officer for GE Fanuc Automation. “This multi-year endeavor included acquisitions, organizational adjustments, product directional planning, internal and independent research and strategic assessment. As a result, our global team is committed to continuously aligning GE Fanuc with changing business needs and bringing success to customers on a daily basis.”

To facilitate the development and implementation of open and layered solutions for industrial automation, the company has aligned its hardware and software product groups under the leadership of Bill Estep, vice president of the automation solutions business. Product groups included under Estep are the PACSystems family of programmable automation controllers, and the Proficy family of automation and production software.

The company has reorganized its hardware and software sales team under Steve Szamocki, as vice president of sales.

Global Marketing and Professional Services organizations are now under the leadership of Tom Cruz, vice president of global marketing and professional services. The new team focuses on marketing, application development, and project implementation as well as the Premier Solution Provider program for systems integrators.

Product roadmap

Meanwhile, GE Fanuc revealed a roadmap for its Proficy software family of products. The family includes programming and control, human-machine interface (HMI) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), historian, and manufacturing execution system (MES) applications, along with a real-time portal.

A major 2005 upgrade will include a data-model and event-based platform. The company reports that this will allow users to standardize on a single, packaged manufacturing information technology (IT) platform.

“A year ago, GE Fanuc launched the Proficy family as a vision for Integrated Production Management,” says Bernie Anger, vice president of software technology for GE Fanuc Automation. “We had a dozen new releases across all Proficy applications in 2004 and have plans to launch another 15 releases in 2005.”

Targeted for a fourth quarter release, Proficy Platform will include Proficy Server and Proficy Console. The server provides a centralized production management hub based on an ISA-95 data reference model and Proficy Historian. It will also use OPC Unified Architecture, which enables communication through use of the OPC open connectivity standard. Console provides multiple data-model views into operations. Console will also align with Microsoft’s upcoming “Avalon” display technology that is currently slated for delivery with the Redmond, Wash., company’s Longhorn operating system.

Also coming in 2005 is Proficy Enterprise Connector—a two-way information highway between Proficy Platform and enterprise applications. The Connector supports Business-to-Manufacturing Markup Language (B2MML) schemas.

Planned for 2006 release is an enhanced HMI/SCADA application with new graphical editors, redundancy and an expanded block library. Releases planned for 2007 include visualization consolidation across platforms based on Longhorn and Avalon technologies.

GE Fanuc Automation is a joint venture between GE and Fanuc Ltd. of Japan.

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