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22 October, 2018

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Siemens invests £30m-plus in `impartial` automation Web site

01 May, 2000

A Siemens is investing more than £30m in a Web site that it hopes will become the meeting place and commercial centre for the global automation industry.

Although Siemens is providing the pump-priming funds, the Vertacross site will be independent and will sell products from Siemens` rivals. The aim is to float it eventually as a separate company. Siemens is looking for other automation suppliers to join the venture and possibly to invest in it.

"Others will only co-operate if they have the opportunity to invest," says Fernando Granados, vice president for sales and marketing at Vertacross. Initial support has come from Moeller, Burkert and the Profibus User Organisation, but Granados says that talks are underway with other potential partners.

"Lots of players are interested," he reports. At first, the site will offer a news and information service, and provide a forum for the automation community to meet and discuss common issues. The news will be personalised for each user. On-line communities will be created to cater for specialist interests such as plant engineers working in the water industry.

The full e-commerce operation will not go live until next year. At that stage, visitors will be able enter the specifications for the type of product they need and the site will provide a list of alternatives from different suppliers, allowing them to compare the products and their prices. The site will also be able to check on the availability of the products.

Granados believes that the impartial, multi-vendor site will attract customers "who will not buy on other e-commerce platforms". He is aiming at small to medium sized companies, in particular.

Initially, Vertacross will target the European and North American markets but the plan is to make it a global operation. A single pricing structure will apply across Europe. Vertacross will derive most of its income by charging a commission on sales.

Although Siemens already has its own e-commerce site called Siemens Mall, it is investing in Vertacross because, according to a spokesman, "if we don`t do it, then someone else will". He adds that "others don`t have the assets or know the industry as well as we do".

Granados will not reveal precisely how much Siemens in investing in Vertacross but says it amounts to thousands of millions of Marks, placing the investment in the £30-300m range. Initially the site will be available in English or German, but French, Spanish and Italian versions are planned.




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