GE-Cisco Networking Venture Fizzles - InformationWeek

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GE-Cisco Networking Venture Fizzles

Cisco and GE Fanuc tried to bring Ethernet down to factory floors, but the effort seems to have failed.

PARK RIDGE, ILL.--A joint venture launched by GE Fanuc Automation North America and Cisco Systems Inc. to prove the concept of Ethernet on the factory floor has all but shut down. Despite an optimistic market outlook, executives at the parent companies said last week that GE Cisco Industrial Networks' goal of propagating Ethernet all the way down to the I/O level on the plant floor was not working.

The Charlottesville, Va., based concern found that manufacturers were willing to use Ethernet to link controllers, but shied away from using it to connect sensors, motors, and drives. "People started to realize that state-of-the-art switch technology was not appropriate for the control-level solutions that they wanted to roll out," said Bob Rucinski, technical-marketing manager for parent company GE Fanuc.

The venture, which was launched in 2000, was intended to bridge the information gap between factory and front office for big companies in industries from automotive to aerospace. GE Cisco declined to divulge the number of its remaining employees, claiming that such information is confidential, and the engineering teams providing network design and implementation services have been moved inside GE Fanuc. The GE Cisco Web site, www.gecisco.com, now diverts visitors to a General Electric site.

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