Schneider Electric accelerates its transformation

Oil and gas, data center markets are core growth areas, says new North American CEO Laurent Vernerey

05/09/2014


As growth in key segments of its U.S. customer base expands, Schneider Electric sees itself as growing and changing after the acquisition of Invensys in 2013.

“We have to accelerate our transformation from an industrial company to a technology company,” said Laurent Vernerey, the new president and CEO of Schneider Electric’s North American operations, in an exclusive interview with CFE Media. “We have to embrace software and services. We also believe we need to have strong alliances in the industry to bring answers to the technology challenges our customers are facing.”

Vernerey said the emphasis on managing big data has led to the rapid growth of data centers, and the U.S. oil and gas industry continues to expand rapidly. “We have a bullish view of the U.S. market because of the issues of the aging system infrastructures and the data revolution,” he said. 

Schneider Electric has expanded its existing services business to a stand-alone division, Schneider Electric Global Services. “We see a significant trend in managed services, and information services. This is not an episode. It’s something we do. It has to be part of our DNA.”

The acquisition of Invensys gave Schneider Electric a strong and complementary portfolio of products in the oil and gas sector. What was less discussed at the time, but an area Vernerey thinks is just as crucial, is a competency in cybersecurity management.

“Compliance is a key question,” he said “We’re seeing a lot more questions about cybersecurity. That picture has changed significantly. (Invensys) had assembled a team of cybersecurity experts, and they bring a legacy of what’s happening at the compliance level.

“But we don’t believe we should be doing this on our own,” he added. “We’re working with outside companies such as IBM and Cisco. This topic is too large for just one company to focus on it.”

While the U.S. market has generally been strengthening over the past four years, Vernerey sees some challenges on the near-term horizon. He noted the changes in government spending and a continuing issue of how to use technology to fill some of the Skills Gap as barriers to growth. Still, the economic slowdown in the first quarter of 2014 was largely attributed to a brutal winter in much of the U.S. as opposed to some underlying economic weakness. “The first quarter was impacted by the weather,” Vernerey said, “and the early days of the second quarter have shown people ready to take investment forward. There’s been a big move in data centers. We have seen some resurgence.”

When it comes to acquisitions, Schneider Electric has been among the more aggressive companies in the past decade. The Invensys acquisition is the last in that trend for a while, Vernerey said. “We’ve been very clear. We’ve arrived at a time in our history where we’ve put together a strategic portfolio that we believe now is quite complete. Now we are going to begin to leverage the Schneider Electric portfolio.

“Right now, our number-one focus is on organic growth,” Vernerey added. “We are seeing some consolidating in our industry, and we still believe our industry going to consolidate. We are going to stay very focused on our strategy.”

- Bob Vavra, content manager, Plant Engineering. bvavra@cfemedia.com 



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
click me