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9:40 pm
October 21, 2016
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Industry Heavyweights T.F. Hudgins and Allied Reliability Merge

T.F. Hudgins Inc. (Houston) has announced a merger with Charleston, SC-based Allied Reliability Inc. According to the two companies, their merger combines the domain expertise and resources of industry leaders that are focused on improving the reliability and performance of a broad range of high-value assets operating in a variety of applications. Customers, in turn, are expected to benefit from an expanded portfolio of hardware, software, and value-added services.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-4-12-14-pmFounded in 1947, T.F. Hudgins provides a portfolio of engineered products and services that improve the reliability of high-value equipment. Its primary end-markets include midstream oil & gas, petrochemical, refining, and other process industries.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-4-10-08-pmAllied Reliability Group delivers best-in-industry operational reliability solutions, including condition monitoring, electrical services, consulting and training, staffing, and integrated product solutions for commercial and industrial manufacturing industries.

Jay Burnette, CEO of T.F. Hudgins, will lead the combined company  “We are extremely excited to bring our two companies together for the benefit of our collective customers, employees, and stakeholders,” he said. “This combination will accelerate our growth in the expanding equipment-reliability space, particularly with a much broader condition-based monitoring and advanced diagnostics offering. We believe this will create significant value for our customers.”

John Schultz, CEO and founding partner of Allied Reliability, emphasized the importance of joining forces with another organization that shares the same commitment to reliability. “We have built our business on listening to and understanding our customers’ needs, and delivering superior technical capabilities,” he commented. “With the combination of our two companies, we will be in an even better position to drive innovation and deliver exceptional value to the global reliability community.”

T.F. Hudgins is a portfolio company of The CapStreet Group, a Houston-based private equity firm that invests in owner-managed, lower-middle-market companies headquartered in Texas and surrounding states, with a particular emphasis on companies in the greater Houston area.

Allied Reliability is a portfolio company of Pfingsten Partners, an operationally focused private-equity firm with headquarters in Chicago and and representative offices in ChangAn, China, and New Delhi and Chennai, India. Since completing its first investment in 1991, Pfingsten has raised five investment funds with total commitments of approximately $1.3 billion and acquired 114 companies.


8:32 pm
October 18, 2016
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Schneider Electric Speeds, Simplifies Utility-Operator Decisions with Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-1-28-45-pmNews from the Schneider Electric “Maximize Return on Assets” Users Group Conference in Chicago this week includes today’s announcement on the release of Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation. Built on the company’s Avantis PriSM platform, the product helps utility operators minimize outage disruptions, improve cross-department collaboration, and increase operational agility.

According to the Lake Forest-based manufacturer, this Asset Performance Management (APM) solution can drive safer, more reliable, and sustainable operational efficiency while providing a digital framework to transform business value.

How It Works
Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for Power Generation provides a closed loop performance management framework to let decision makers contextualize real-time performances across their fleet, perform causal analysis of any non-conformity, and then create a template of the resulting knowledge for later use, thus reducing downtime from future non-conformity incidents. Part of Schneider Electric’s comprehensive Enterprise APM platform, it bridges skills and process gaps with smart technology, by combining advanced predictive analytics with knowledge management, and decision support to maximize asset availability. Schneider Electric notes that the solution offers a simplified and enriched data-analysis and reporting framework, delivered by way of a single user interface with an integrated flow of intelligence. By digitizing operations and decision-support knowledge, power generation operators have new opportunities to transform their businesses along with their workforce.

As Doug Warren, vice president, Industry Solutions at Schneider Electric, explained the new offering, “Power-generation operators must increasingly operate with greater collaboration across departments, driving a need for a single version of the truth across stakeholders and an ability to better manage information across multiple systems, people, and processes.” Predictive Asset Analytics Suite for this sector, he said, enables information-sharing by connecting multiple systems with context to ensure process rigors are followed in terms of ownership, which ultimately simplifies collaborative decision-making.

Schneider Electric notes that it has worked closely with utility providers to deliver reliable power to homes and businesses since the end of the 19th century. Predictive Asset Analytics Suite builds upon that knowledge, adds subscription-model pricing options, and is bundled with a comprehensive Customer FIRST maintenance and support program. As a result, power generation operators can incorporate intelligent information into their processes and digitize that knowledge to achieve and sustain operational excellence.

To learn more, CLICK HERE.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2016 “Maximize Return on Assets” Avantis User’s Group Conference runs through Wed., Oct. 19, at the Loews Chicago Hotel. For information on upcoming Schneider Electric Software  events, including the company’s “Empowering the Mobile Workforce in Process Industries” conference in Houston (Dec. 5-7, 2016), CLICK  HERE.



3:13 am
October 16, 2016
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Festo Opens Logistic & Assembly Operations Near Cincinnati


The manufacturing and distribution (assembly and logistics) operations at Festo’s recently opened Regional Service Center in Mason, OH, (RSC Mason), near Cincinnati, are within a day’s drive (10 hrs. by truck) of 70 % of the company’s North American customers. (Photo: Festo AG & Co. KG)

(Photo: Festo AG & Co. KG)

Festo’s recent opening of a 225,000-sq. ft. Regional Service Center (RSC) in Mason, OH (near Cincinnati), is said to have tripled capacities of the pneumatic and electric-automation giant.

Among other things, the $70-million state-of-the-art distribution and manufacturing (logistics and assembly) facility features a highly automated order-picking system, that, according to the company, is not only unique to the North American manufacturing landscape, it’s as sophisticated as the warehouse systems that keep today’s top retailers up and running. With a storage capacity of 65,000 bins, RSC Mason has seven high-performance picking stations and the capability to pick and pack 1,000 items per hour. The new operation allows for increased flexibility and speed, improved services, and plenty of space for future growth, while supporting Festo’s continued expansion in the NAFTA market (U.S., Canada, and Mexico). All of this seems well in line with a company that refers to itself as “the engineers of productivity.”

In addition to its investment in the new RSC, Festo U.S. is also continuing to increase its distribution network and sales force that, along with the Mason operation, will support ongoing industrial growth in Mexico, a market that’s fast becoming a heavyweight in the automotive sector. The site, in fact, has Foreign Trade Zone status, making it faster and more efficient for the company to support customers across the U.S. Canada, and Mexico from a central location.

Essential: Staying Close Customers
Festo has made it clear that its decision to locate the RSC in Mason wasn’t made lightly, but rather to help optimize the supply chain. While a major factor in the site selection was the region’s wealth of talent (thanks to a number of technical schools and colleges), its efficient highway systems, several airports, and the nearby, expanded DHL distribution facility were also strong selling points.

The result of being located in this “heart” of North American industry, explained Yannick Schilly, head of Product Supply NAFTA and RSC Mason, is that “we will be closer to our customers.” That’s something Festo considers essential. (As an example, the company is pointing to the fact that 70% of the North American customers for its thousands of different products, including drives, motors, controllers, valves, sensors, and other systems and components, are now within just a day’s drive [10 hours by truck] of the new facility.)

Another Essential: Technical Training/Workforce Development
RSC Mason is also home to the Festo Learning Center and a recently created two-year Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program (MAP2). The program is an initiative of Festo Didactic (the company’s technical training arm) in partnership with Sinclair Community College and five companies in the Cincinnati tri-state area (Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, Festo Inc., MQ Automation, and Nestlé). Built on the German apprenticeship model of dual education wherein participants learn in a classroom and while holding a steady job, the program’s mission is to help employers develop skills that are missing in today’s workforce by combining theoretical education with hands-on and on-the-job training.

The current (inaugural) MAP2 class includes 11 apprentices. Each week, they spend one day in classes at Sinclair Community College classes, one day at the Learning Center in Mason using state-of-the-art equipment, and three days working in their respective employers’ operations. This process and schedule allows them to take what they learn in class, practice it at the Festo Learning Center, and then use their new knowledge and skills in real-life work environments.

About Festo
Festo AG is a global manufacturer and independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen, near Stuttgart, Germany. It supplies pneumatic and electrical-automation technology to 300,000 customers in over 40 industries. Festo’s products and services are available in 176 countries. For more information, CLICK HERE.





7:03 pm
October 10, 2016
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Milwaukee Tool Cordless, Self-Priming M18 Transfer Pump Meets Water-Removal Challenges

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-12-58-49-pmWisconsin-based Milwaukee Tool (Milwaukee) says the company’s recently introduced M18 Transfer Pump for water removal is the first self-priming, cordless pump of its type.

Completely self-priming, it’s designed with a flexible impeller that, once turned on, starts pumping water instantly from inlet to outlet without the need for additional priming assistance. This flexible impeller also helps create a powerful pressure difference that can produce an 18-ft. lift.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-10-46-pmWith a capacity of 480 GPH (gal. per hr.) and head height of 75 ft., the M18 Transfer Pump is suitable for a variety of water-removal challenges. Equipped with the manufacturer’s advanced REDLINK Intelligence system, these units are protected against dry pumping by their ability to switch themselves off when an application is complete. This capability helps protect the motor, thus maximizing service life and allowing users to perform other tasks without worrying about damaging the pump.

The battery connects to the pump in a splash-proof compartment on the back of the unit. This compartment is large enough to fit all M18 battery packs. In addition, a clear viewing window provides better visibility to the impeller, allowing the user to quickly troubleshoot blockages or other issues.

The M18 Transfer Pump comes with two ¾-in. brass threads to fit all major brands of hose connections. It’s offered as a bare tool (pump alone) or as a kit (which includes an M18 REDLITHIUM XC Extended Capacity Battery and M18 & M12 Multi-Voltage Charger).

For more information, CLICK HERE.


5:46 pm
October 5, 2016
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Schneider Electric Wonderware LIVE Spotlights Groundbreaking Offerings

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-1-27-12-pmThe Schneider Electric Wonderware LIVE North American User’s event in Orlando this week put the spotlight on a number of new Wonderware offerings. Announcements, among others, included release of information regarding:

The launch of Prometheus, a vertical configuration tool that’s expected to “redefine the industrial control industry.”  The company characterizes Prometheus as  “the industry’s first configuration tool for defining, programming, and documenting all components in an industrial control system, from the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to the I/O.”

By removing the complexity and tedious burden of updating multiple applications, Prometheus is said to drive greater agility across automation-control systems, thus ensuring that plants run the most efficient and up-to-date processes. And it can configure each of these components, beyond the capabilities of existing controllers and SCADA/HMI software, regardless of type or brand, which, in itself, signifies another industry first.Prometheus will be available in January 2017.

The introduction of Wonderware Online InStudio, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering that changes the way software engineers, systems integrators, and end users can provision, develop, test, and maintain their HMI and SCADA applications. InStudio is part of the evolution of Schneider Electric’s Wonderware Online cloud platform built on the Microsoft Azure platform. This collection of industrial data aggregation, storage and visualization functionalities is now called Wonderware Online InSight.

As the latest addition to a growing portfolio of Wonderware Online cloud-first, mobile-first technologies, the secure InStudio cloud subscription service lets systems integrators overlay a next-generation infrastructure that is highly available and scalable. According to the company, the offering supports improved collaboration during the development process across geographies and roles. Potential benefits include improved user experiences, optimized delivery of software engineering services, enhanced application designs, faster user adoption, and lower project costs.

Research suggests that cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service and other offerings have considerable potential to deploy less energy and natural resources, such as through the reduction of hardware requirements for software development testing.

Wonderware Online InStudio will be available in November 2016.

The Wonderware LIVE event runs through Thursday, Oct. 6. For information on Wonderware and other software-related offerings and events from Schneider Electric, CLICK HERE.


6:36 pm
October 4, 2016
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Baldor Rolls Out ‘Passport’ Selection Tool for Baldor-Dodge Products

br2001_passport_webBaldor Electric Co. (Fort Smith, AR) has introduced Passport, a new selection program for Baldor-Dodge mechanical power transmission products. According to the company, this web-based tool uses an intuitive process to guide both novice and expert users through quick and accurate selections.

How It Works
During the selection process, Passport offers real-time pricing and availability that help end users make cost-effective selections of readily available components. After selections are complete, it offers add-to-order capability that seamlessly allows customers to convert selections into orders thought the PT Place e-commerce platform. Passport also delivers a comprehensive summary that includes part numbers, supporting technical performance data and indexes product selections for future reference. (CLICK HERE for a short YouTube video.)

Currently, Passport supports the selection of shaft mounted reducers, and V-Belt and synchronous -belted drives. The company says that future Passport capabilities will incorporate additional Baldor-Dodge mechanical power transmission products, as well as offer an application-based approach to developing packaged solutions for a wide range of common industrial applications such as conveying and air handling.

To access Passport, CLICK HERE


4:23 pm
October 3, 2016
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Emerson to Acquire Corrosion-Monitoring Leader Permasense Ltd.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-11-37-32-amEmerson (St. Louis), has announced an agreement to acquire Permasense Limited (Horsham, UK, and Houston), a provider of non-intrusive corrosion monitoring technologies for offshore and onshore oil-production, refining, chemical, power, pipelines, metals and mining, and other industries. The Permasense product line will become part of Emerson’s Rosemount portfolio of measurement and analytical technologies.

According to Emerson, Permasense’s monitoring systems use unique sensor technology, wireless data delivery, and advanced analytics to continuously monitor for metal loss from corrosion or erosion in pipes, pipelines, or vessels, and reliably deliver high-integrity data from even the harshest environments.The acquisition is said to represent another step forward in the companies strategy to invest in its core business platforms and expand in markets that hold significant long-term growth opportunity.

Sensors employing proven ultrasonic wall-thickness measurement principles are central to the Permasense offering. Because they’re battery-powered and communicate wirelessly, they minimizes the cost of installation and support use in remote areas and on a large scale. These sensors are also designed so they can be deployed in hazardous areas.

“Corrosion and erosion can significantly impact the safe and reliable operation of our industrial customers’ infrastructure, which can have dire consequences,” said Mike Train, president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Wireless non-intrusive corrosion monitoring,” he explained, “is a transformational shift that helps customers immediately understand the health and integrity of their infrastructure in real-time and enable them to fully optimize their operations while maximizing safety.”

Permasense technologies complement Emerson’s Roxar intrusive corrosion monitoring and non-intrusive sand management systems, and strengthen the company’s Pervasive Sensing applications that provide end users a more complete view of their operations and facilities. With Permasense and Roxar technologies in its portfolio, Emerson will become the largest provider of integrity and corrosion management solutions in the marketplace.

For more information, CLICK HERE or visit Emerson Automation Solutions.



1:03 pm
September 23, 2016
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Fluke Acquires eMaint Enterprises

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-50-07-amFluke Corp. (Everett, WA) has announced the acquisition of eMaint Enterprises LLC (Marlton, NJ), a leader in computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). Details of the transaction haven’t been disclosed.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-40-08-ameMaint’s software platform is used by more than 50,000 maintenance professionals in 55 countries and multiple markets, including food processing, manufacturing, fleet, services, and government, among others.

Fluke’s comprehensive line of handheld test tools and portable sensors are used by service and maintenance technicians, electricians, and plant engineers around the world. eMaint’s web-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) solution can be accessed on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other browser-based devices.

According to the two companies, Fluke tools, software, and data expertise together with eMaint’s SaaS offering represents a critical convergence of maintenance solutions that ensure uptime and maximize return on assets for end users throughout industry.