24 Jul 2024


Start-up aims to free users from one-supplier `straightjacket`

The former UK managing director of the automation software supplier Citect, Paul Hurst, has set up a new company, Products4Automation (P4A), to provide systems integrators and end-users with automation hardware and software from a variety of suppliers.

“Too many companies are having their production put into inefficient straightjackets by the ‘one-brand-suits-all’ approach of large automation suppliers,” he argues. “This is particularly true of MES systems where, in many instances, users have to adapt their production to suit the rigid structure of the MES modules supplied.

“This is an untenable situation, and one that we aim to change with our ‘production intelligence’ system, which we will be launching in the near future,” he adds. “However, our initial objective is to ensure that our customers get the best mix of hardware and software products to optimise their applications, with the best in application and technical support from experienced automation engineers.”

P4A’s product range will include Proface touchscreen HMIs and flat panel PCs, Win-911 alarm notification SCADA software plug-ins, TOPCCC intelligent I/O plug-in interface modules, Monitran displays, and Felten production software.

Hurst says that the aim of production intelligence is to provide “a totally new dimension of productivity for UK industry”. He adds that it will be “superior to classic technical MES approaches to productivity, which only have limited effect as they rely too much on automation.

“The production intelligence philosophy is different,” Hurst declares. “Its technical approach is to define all process elements of production sequences – from orders to operating instructions or quality definitions – as objects. These objects take attributes, thus creating a content level in which completely free linking is possible. That way, content becomes an integrating element.

“This makes possible an intelligent design of workflows because the production managers can decide flexibly how each single process is built from automated and manual components: it’s definitely the way forward.”

Products4Automation in based in Sutton Coldfield.

Citect, which supplies SCADA and MES software, was acquired by Schneider Electric in 2006.