Schneider Electric - aggressive French giant
With annual revenue about $10 billion, and 75,000 employees in 130
countries, France based Schneider Electric is high on the world list
of major automation companies. Many people have been asking me -
"Why not Schneider weblogs?" This omission is hereby rectified:
My new book "Automation Unplugged" includes an article on Schneider,
with a weblink here. And the Schneider weblog is now active.
Schneider operates in 3 sales regions: Europe (51%), North America
(29%) and International (rest-of-world, which includes Japan and
China) generates 20%. Schneider has an ambitious corporate mission
to support a strategy of faster, more competitive growth, beyond
its own geographic and cultural limits. To stay competitive, its
R&D percentage is 5.2%, relatively high for an automation company
(most companies typically invest only 2%-3%).
Schneider acquired Square D and Modicon in the US and is still almost
hyperactive on the acquisition front. The French giant is apparently
unafraid to acquire interests in relatively small companies and is
making deals that adapt to the needs of the entrepreneurs involved.
In the US, after acquiring Steeplechase (PLC control software),
Schneider decided to contribute Steeplechase Software and a minority
equity position in Think&Do, a relatively small start-up, to create
a new company called Entivity (ENabling ProducTIVITY). Credit is due
to the leadership of Schneider's Automation Business in the US for
being flexible enough to consider forming a strong and independent,
yet linked, combination.
Schneider does not have special magic with merging corporate cultures.
Depending on the progress made against growth and profit expectations,
layoffs and changes occur that are often locally detrimental. This
is understandable, but leaves many good employees feeling abandoned,
subject to remote and unfamiliar corporate dominance.
A few years after the acquisition of Modicon and Square D, during
the recent business decline when objectives were not met, Schneider
started pulling in its horns by dismissing several people. The once
respected Modicon, with its strong development team and world-class
production facilities, also started disappearing into the French
Schneider has deep pockets, and is aggressive enough to buy almost
any company that complements their products and market focus. It is
unlikely that they will acquire Rockwell - there is too much product
overlap (Telemechanique, Square D, Modicon) and anti-trust problems
With significant building automation operations, Schneider will
clearly be one of the primary bidders for complementary Invensys
companies (like Climate Controls) that are now up for sale. Indeed,
Schneider is probably also eyeing Honeywell IS, as a means to get
into process control systems, to broaden their discrete automation
leadership. But, Invensysí Foxboro (with Wonderware in tow) would
also provide a significant market entry.
Schneider - Aggressive French Giant
NEW Schneider weblog
JimPinto.com weblog Index
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Robotics technology trends
When it comes to robots, reality still lags science fiction.
But, just because robots have not lived up to their promise in
past decades does not mean that they will not arrive sooner or
later. Indeed, the confluence of several advanced technologies
is bringing the age of robotics ever nearer - smaller, cheaper,
more practical and cost-effective.
The number of robots in the world today is approaching 1,000,000,
with almost half that number in Japan and just 15% in the US.
A couple of decades ago, 90% of robots were used in car manufacturing,
typically on assembly lines doing repetitive tasks. Today only 50%
are in auto plants, with the other half spread out among other
factories, labs, warehouses, energy plants, hospitals, and many
Robots are used for assembling products, handling dangerous materials,
spray-painting, cutting and polishing, inspection of products. The
number of robots used in tasks as diverse as cleaning sewers,
detecting bombs and performing intricate surgery is increasing
steadily, and will continue to grow in coming years.
Sales of industrial robots are rising to record levels and they have
huge, untapped potential for domestic chores like mowing the lawn
and vacuuming the carpet. Last year 3,000 underwater robots, 2,300
demolition robots and 1,600 surgical robots were in operation.
A big increase is predicted for domestic robots for vacuum cleaning
and lawn mowing, increasing from 12,500 in 2000 to almost 500,000 by
the end of 2004. IBotís Roomba floor cleaning robot is now available
at under $200. And there are more revolutionary robots coming...
You might like to read my new article: "Robotics Technology Trends"
which is on the AutomationTechies.com website.
Robotics technology trends
Rodney Brooks - Flesh and Machines - How robots will change us
Marshall Brain essays - Robotic Nation, Robots in 2015
MIT-Tech Review - iRobot growth story
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The age of cyber-politics has arrived
Vermont is the second-smallest state in the US (lowest population,
more only than Wyoming). And yet, Howard Dean, Vermont's former
governor, is one of the leading candidates for the Democratic
presidential nomination and has already raised more campaign funds
than anyone. This success is due primarily to savvy use of the
Internet by his campaign staff.
Howard Dean is being called the "cyber-candidate". Like FDR with radio
and JFK with television, he seems to have the personal style that best
suits this new age media. He has already raised more money online than
any other campaign in US political history. His staff is using weblogs
to create a more intimate, real-time relationship with supporters, and
deploying "flash group" tactics to launch quick rallies around the
country. Dean won 40% of the vote in an online "primary" run by
MoveOn.org - an event that attracted more voters than the 2000 Iowa
caucuses and the New Hampshire primary combined.
The Internet was already significant in the 2000 election. By Nov.
2000, 64% of all registered US voters were Internet users and 90%
of US Internet users were registered voters. Clearly, the web was
going to be the least costly and most effective means of reaching
and mobilizing voters.
In 2000, Steve Forbes was the first to announce his presidential
campaign on the Web. Arizona was the first state to allow online
voting in its presidential primaries. Democrat Bill Bradley and
Republican John McCain set party records for online fundraising
- records that Howard Dean has now smashed. Nominating conventions
were webcast, and both major parties used the Web to issue real-time
e-rebuttals during debates. Computer modeling allowed both campaigns
to know where their voters were and to realize that something had
gone wrong in Florida. Among users below 30, 50% said that information
they had gained from the Internet changed how they voted. Voters'
desire for information is fueling this phenomenal growth.
In this election year, every presidential candidate has a website.
Independent of candidates or political parties, there are information
websites. Political marketing is no longer just about direct mail,
lobbying and door-to-door petition drives. Today, it means Internet
links, video streaming, e-mail and virtual votes.
For example, C-SPAN.org allows users to search its archives for
videotape of particular speeches or events. USAdemocracy.com tracks
legislation and users can send e-mail to specific members of congress.
Users can also be alerted, by e-mail, how their representatives voted
on any particular issue in Congress.
Forget the TV media talking heads. Go online for information!
MIT Tech Review - Enter The Cybercandidates
The Online Campaign Trail
Political sites flood cyber-space
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