Well … it’s not exactly a new trend, but definitely one I’m seeing a lot more of.
A good bit of news around this trend was seen and heard during the ARC Advisory Group meeting in Orlando last week (you can read more about this here). A significant piece of news presented during that event came from Honeywell Process Solutions, which announced its strategy around the integration of Matrikon. Honeywell purchased Matrikon (a provider of software for plant operations) for $142 million in May 2010. The announcement was that Matrikon’s products and personnel will be integrated with Honeywell products and personnel to create the Honeywell Advanced Solutions business unit within Honeywell Process Solutions.
The business includes Honeywell products like UniSim and ProfitSuite, along with all Matrikon products. MatrikonOPC, however, will not be part of this business as it is being spun off as an independent business. The Advanced Solutions business unit will be focused on delivering solutions in a consultancy led manner to a range of process industries (chemical, oil and gas, food and beverage, etc.). These services will be offered for multiple types of DCS systems (not just Honeywell DCS-centered operations) as well as where there are no DCS systems involved. The business will be run by Ian Brown, who comes from the Matrikon side of the business.
This consultancy oriented approach has been on the upswing for a few years now as more automation companies — both large and small — move away from a purely product/technology-focused approach. On its face, it seems like this sort of offering could be a big boost to systems designers who work in-house at manufacturing facilities as well as those who work with OEMs (as GE is increasingly focusing on, as noted in my earlier blog post.)
The companies behind these consultancy offerings say they are developing them based on client needs and requests. Have any of you out there had any experience with these systems designs consultancies? If so, what did you think of the offering? If not, is this something you really need or would consider?