Drives & Controls January 2024

n NEWS January 2024 12 THE SWEDISH INDUSTRIAL COMMUNICATIONS specialist HMS Networks is buying the US-based automation supplier Red Lion Controls from its UK-based owner, Spectris Group, for $345m on a cash- and debt-free basis. The deal will strengthen HMS’ presence in North America and enable cross-selling of both HMS’ and Red Lion’s products. In the year to September, 2023, HMS and Red Lion had combined sales worth more than $420m, with an adjusted EBIT margin of around 24%. “The companies are a great match both when it comes to products, geographic presence, and cultural aspects,” says HMS CEO, Staffan Dahlström. “The combination of Red Lion’s product portfolio – which is complementary to HMS’ offering and has limited overlap – and the geographic match with Red Lion having a strong position in the attractive North American market, and HMS with its core markets in Europe, will generate good cross-selling opportunities. “Red Lion’s Access products fit well with HMS’ Anybus and Ewon product lines, while Red Lion’s Connect offering adds what HMS has been searching for several years – a strong Ethernet switch offer with a strong market position,” he adds. “Finally, Red Lion’s Visualize offering brings new opportunities for HMS to explore the data visualisation offering that is becoming more and more interesting with its central role in the industrial automation environment and its ability to provide additional value on top of HMS’ connectivity and network offering.” HMS is planning to develop products and offers specifically for the North American market. Currently, about 60% of HMS’ sales are to automation markets in Europe, while most of Red Lion’s sales are in North America. After the acquisition, about 45% of HMS’ sales are expected to be in Europe, about 39% in the Americas, and 16% in Asia. Red Lion employs about 400 people globally, of which around 300 are in the US. It has two development sites in the US, and one each in Germany and India, with manufacturing sites in the US and Germany. HMS employs more than 800 people and had sales worth $244m in 2022. The acquisition is due to close during the first half of 2024. HMS Networks buys Red Lion Controls to boost its US presence Marcel van Helten, CEO of Red Lion Controls (left), with Staan Dahlström, CEO of HMS Networks, after the signing ceremony The PPMA (Processing & Packaging Machinery Association) Group of Associations is changing its name to Automate UK to better represent the needs of its members and their customers. The move follows the PPMA’s publication last year of a Manifesto for Automation, which set out its goals and commitment to make the UK more productive. The PPMA was founded in 1987, and in 2009 was joined by Bara (the British Automation and Robot Association) and Ukiva (the UK Industrial Vision Association), broadening the range of automation equipment and services that it represents. As the association matures, its leaders feels that the time is right to widen its range of services. The three associations – the PPMA, Bara and Ukiva – will continue to operate, but will come under the Automate UK umbrella. “This is way more than just a name change,” says Automate UK’s CEO, Peter Williamson. “It is a fundamental shift in how our three trade associations can impact the manufacturing arena in a positive and meaningful way. “By driving industry progress, supporting growth of our members and helping users make more informed technology decisions, we are the go-to partner to help members and their clients thrive,” he adds. “And also increase productivity through investments in automation, in the increasingly competitive marketplace.” The main purpose of the renamed trade body will be to: n drive the adoption of automation technologies; n identify future talent and help upskill existing employees; n support the growth of its member companies; and n help its members and end-users to make better technology decisions. Automate UK also aims to become a lobbying organisation to put forward industry issues to government and to represent its members’ interests. “There is a clear role for government to play in the drive to a more automated manufacturing sector in the UK,” says Williamson. “We estimate that our members represent a £7bn turnover, which is why our sector should be heard in this critical area.” There are no plans to change the PPMA Show which will keep its name. Similarly, the Automation UK and Ukiva shows will retain their brands. The main short-term changes will be the new branding and an associated Web site. The trade body’s day-to-day activities will largely remain unchanged initially, but over time there will be additions to the membership oerings and activities. PPMA is reborn as Automate UK