Cooper Industries added radio-frequency (RF) wireless networking capabilities to its smart grid offerings with the acquisition of Eka Systems, Georgetown, Md., last week. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Eka Systems, through its EkaNet Smart Network technology, provides utilities with an open-standards based wireless advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution that includes automated meter reading, power outage detection, enhanced customer billing options and the ability to track and analyze usage data on a near real-time basis. Eka Systems’ product offering includes radios, wireless repeaters, meter nodes, gateways and data collection tools and operates over the widely used 900Mhz radio frequency for domestic markets and the 2.4GHz frequency for international markets.
Eka Systems joins Cooper’s Energy Automation Solutions (EAS) business unit, based in Waukesha, Wis., which the company formed in 2007 to focus on utilities’ growing demand for automation technologies and expertise as they move to build out the smart grid.
“Eka Systems’ RF wireless networking capabilities are a perfect complement to our existing EAS platform, which has approximately $200 million in annual revenues and continues to experience double-digit growth,” said Kirk Hachigian, Cooper Industries chairman and CEO. “While the Eka Systems technology has limited existing deployments, this acquisition represents a long-term commitment to this space as we plan to make significant additional organic investments in this product line to further enhance our competitive position in the rapidly expanding utility automation market. Additionally, this acquisition creates an opportunity to increase the global presence of our EAS platform, as Eka Systems’ 2.4GHz frequency radio technology is the accepted standard for international markets.”
Eka Systems is the fourth acquisition Cooper has made to build the EAS group, and the company has a bevy of alliances and partnerships with other manufacturers and technology providers. The company’s offerings have focused on powerline carrier (PLC) technology, which is widely used in rural applications. Adding Eka Systems’ wireless technology enhances the company’s offering for urban and suburban environments.
“For AMI applications, we are the market leader for PLC-based installations and with this acquisition will be able to offer our customers who require both PLC and RF technologies more customized solutions to meet their individual needs in both rural and urban service territories,” said Cooper Power Systems President Mike Stoessl.
Cooper has built the EAS group through acquisitions of Cannon Technologies, Inc., a Minneapolis-based provider of automation technologies for monitoring and metering and energy management, in August 2006; Cybectec, Inc., a provider of products and software systems that assist utilities in modernizing their automation systems, in January 2007; and Cyme International, St. Bruno, Quebec, a power engineering software and services provider, in December 2008.
The unit also has technology partnerships with companies such as Landis & Gyr, CGI Group, Trilliant, Elster and AT&T.
The acquisition of Eka Systems is unlikely to be Cooper’s last smart grid acquisition.
“Cooper has an exceptionally strong balance sheet and continues to maintain a focused and disciplined acquisition strategy,” said Hachigian. “We remain committed to building key business and technology platforms like utility automation that provide substantial long-term growth opportunities in higher technology, more specification-driven end markets.”