Business Milestones

Square D - PML Alliance—in 1987?!

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It is well known in the electrical industry that Power Measurement Ltd (PML) became part of Schneider Electric through its acquisition in 2005.  What most probably do not know is that the collaboration almost happened nearly 20 years earlier!  And—had the alliance succeeded—there may not have been any PowerLogic at all!

Metering: Make or Buy?

In 1987, as Product Planning Manager for the PE Division, Bob Kennedy was charged to find a metering solution for Square D, given the recent discontinuation of its in-house development project.  One obvious answer: use the Westinghouse IQ Data Plus.  Square D already brand-labeled the DS circuit breaker from Westinghouse.  And its Middletown, Ohio, switchgear plant already used this product when specified by customers.  The unit cost (price to Square D) of the meter was a drawback, though, and the fatal flaw was the meter’s proprietary data communications protocol (called INCOM).  Originally developed for simpler applications, INCOM would later become a competitive weakness for Westinghouse in commercial/industrial power management markets.  The Square D switchgear plants continued to use the IQ Data Plus for main metering when specified, but a more comprehensive "power monitoring and control system" demanded something more.  The search for an existing metering solution continued.

Back to the Future

Another power meter was considered, this time from a smaller, independent company from Victoria, British Columbia... called Power Measurement, Ltd. (PML).  Yes, the same PML that would become part of Schneider Electric 18 years later.  The collaboration almost happened much earlier!  PML offered a meter called ACM3000, a serious competitor to the IQ Data Plus.  PML had approached Square D’s switchgear plants in hopes of replacing their IQ volume with the ACM.  At one point, Bill McMillan, PML President and Founder, visited the Smyrna plant and discussed the use of the ACM3000 with Bob Kennedy.  Bob's intention was to brand-label the ACM meter and integrate it with Square D’s Sy/Max line of automation products, to offer a range from stand-alone metering to a comprehensive "power monitoring and control" system. Unfortunately, as with the IQ meter, cost became a stumbling block.  In addition, similar to Westinghouse, PML used a proprietary data protocol for its meter.  Though years later PML would implement Modbus protocol as part of its offering, the company could not commit to adding Sy/Max or Modbus at the time.  The only remaining option for Square D: "make."  The rest is history, as they say.  PowerLogic history.

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