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P+F buys US industrial comms specialist Comtrol

31 January, 2019

The German industrial automation company Pepperl+Fuchs is acquiring Comtrol Corporation, the US-based pioneer of industrial Ethernet technologies and manufacturer of IO-Link products. From 1 February, Comtrol will join P+F’s Factory Automation division and a new company called Pepperl+Fuchs Comtrol Inc, will be established in the US. The business will remain in Minneapolis and plans to increase its headcount during 2019. The financial terms of the deal have not been revealed.

P+F is acquiring Comtrol to complement its existing portfolio of sensors and interfaces, which include AS-Interface, IO-Link and other industrial connection technologies. The expansion ties in with its Industry 4.0 strategy and will allow the company to offer more products to close the gap between field devices and the control level.

“An enhanced Pepperl+Fuchs IO-Link product range will help our customers improve the flow of data from field devices to the control level and the cloud,” explains Reiner Müller, president of P+F’s Factory Automation division. “Customers will be able to turn to a single, trusted partner to help develop their newest digital business processes.”

Comtrol says that its customers will benefit from P+F’s global reach and will gain access to additional automation technologies. Its president, Bradford Beale, is looking forward to “continuing our great technology leadership and innovation in serial, Ethernet and IO-Link solutions. Comtrol is excited to join Pepperl+Fuchs in creating new IoT and Industry 4.0 innovations, enabling sensor data visibility to cloud solutions.”

Comtrol, founded 38 years ago, claims to have invented the first multi-port serial control cards for PCs in 1982. In 1993, it launched RocketPort, which it describes as the first highly-integrated ASIC-based multi-port serial board. This was followed four years later by RocketModem, “the industry’s first multiple-modem card for PCs” with on-board processing.

In recent years, Comtrol has expanded into IO-Link devices

Other Comtrol products have included its DeviceMaster serial-to-Ethernet products, launched in 2000, and its RocketLinx industrial and Power-over-Ethernet switches, introduced in 2009. In 2014, it expanded into IO-Link master products.

Family-owned company Pepperl+Fuchs claims to have invented the inductive proximity sensor in 1958. Its factory Automation division offers inductive and photoelectric proximity sensors, ultrasonic sensors, rotary encoders, RFID systems, barcode readers, vision sensors and laser devices.

P+F also has a Process Automation division, which it describes as the global market-leader in the field of explosion protection in hazardous areas by intrinsic safety. The division’s portfolio includes analogue isolation barriers, remote I/O systems, Hart interfaces, level control sensors, purge systems, HMIs, explosion-protection equipment, power supplies and signalling devices.

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