Partnerships between technology companies have been one of the biggest business developments to arise in these early days of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Though technology partnerships are nothing new to the automation industry, historically they presaged a merger between the two companies or the acquisition of the smaller company in the partnership by the larger one.
See links at end of article highlighting numerous automation supplier IIoT-related partnerships.
In the age of IIoT, however, pure play technology partnerships—lacking an imminent merger or acquisition—seem to be the order of the day. Underscoring this new reality is the fact that companies of all sizes are getting involved in this type of partnership activity.
A recent example of this is the strategic partnership announced between Acromag and Ctek Inc. In this partnership, the companies are planning to “offer complete monitoring and control solutions for customers to manage their remote assets” by combining Acromag’s signal measurement and conditioning products with Ctek’s cellular communication and autonomous controllers.
The specific technologies centered on in this project are the Ctek SkyRouter controllers and Acromag BusWorks remote I/O modules. Ctek says its SkyRouter controllers provide “autonomous intelligence and sophisticated communication capabilities to manage operations and report performance data. They operate as a Modbus master to read and write to slave I/O devices.” Processing capabilities of these controllers include thresholds, math/boolean functions, triggers and data logging. Alarms support email and SMS messaging.
Acromag BusWorks multi-channel remote I/O modules interface analog and discrete level sensors by converting voltage and current signals representing temperature, level, flow, load, on/off, high/low and other performance measures to Modbus values. The modules feature “rugged design, hazardous location approvals, and isolated signal processing to ensure high-accuracy, reliable performance in harsh locations,” the company reports.
According to Acromag and Ctek, the combination of these technologies means that “users can quickly and cost-effectively deploy these systems without programming to connect endpoints to the enterprise, enabling visual access to operation status from anywhere. Menu-based configuration speeds setup of data collection, reporting and alarm functions.”
System developers and end users can “enjoy the capabilities of a PLC or RTU-based SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] system without the high costs and complexity,” says Robert Greenfield, Acromag’s business development manager (no relation to the editor of this article). “The integrated Acromag/Ctek system is ideal for remotely monitoring and controlling the operation of pumps, motors, tanks, meters, generators, batteries, valves, fans, heaters and other industrial equipment. Users can rapidly set up data displays, alarm rules, data logging and process control logic routines with point-and-click application development. Controllers support wired serial, Ethernet and 4G/LTE network communication, as well as a cloud-based application service for easy access to critical system status reporting.”
“Now system developers can confidently pair Acromag I/O and Ctek controllers to rapidly implement SCADA solutions with cloud-based reporting that are affordably scalable for small and large sites,” adds Bob Way, Ctek’s business development manager.
Highlights of IIoT-related partnerships covered recently by Automation World: