GE, Cisco in venture to link shop, office networks

General Electric and Cisco Systems yesterday announced they had agreed to form a company aimed at linking proprietary factory automation and manufacturing systems to main office networks.

The new venture, GE Cisco Industrial Networks, will be headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, also the home of GE Fanuc Automation, a supplier of industrial automation controls. Jeff Pompaeo, previously the CIO at GE Fanuc, will be the company's president and CEO.

Pompaeo said in a telephone interview that the new company will focus on providing engineering services to connect the proprietary networks on the factory floor to company business networks.

"The factory floor is like the last mile in corporate networks," Pompaeo said. GE Cisco is "in the business of providing engineering services to connect these uncommon networks".

Connectivity will be based on Ethernet standards, Pompaeo said, and will typically involve a mix of copper cable, optical fibre and even wireless technology, depending on the plant and the applications involved.

The company is set to begin operations immediately, Pompaeo said. Neither Cisco nor General Electric would comment on financial terms of the deal.

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