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Microsoft Acquires Industrial IoT Partner Marsden Group

The Marsden Group, a Microsoft partner that helps with industrial automation and safety processes, has been acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Houston, The Marsden Group lists the industries it supports as factories, industrial plants, offshore oil and original equipment manufacturing facilities. Its Vision IQ solution, deployed by Seadrill, uses special cameras and AI to track personnel on oil derricks, sending them alerts about hazards. Other products include Sense IQ for use on factory floors and Asset IQ for use with logistical operations such as shipping.

Microsoft apparently is buying The Marsden Group to further experiment in digitally transforming industrial processes. "This acquisition will further enhance Microsoft's ability to create new customer value through experimentation and deep industry solutions based on Microsoft cloud, edge and AI products," said Omar Abbosh, Microsoft's corporate vice president for cross-industry solutions, in the announcement.

It's not clear how other IoT and edge computing partners might be affected by the acquisition. Microsoft sometimes buys businesses simply to gain expertise it lacks. There was no information provided on whether The Marsden Group would support existing customers.

At the Microsoft Inspire 2019 conference for partners, The Marsden Group took to the stage to describe its work with Unilever in building digital twins representations of Unilever's factories. The Marsden Group's solution used the Microsoft Azure IoT platform to create digital models of the factories, which was subsequently used by Unilever to predict outcomes and help make improvements.

Here's how The Marsden Group described the Unilever effort back then in a 2019 press release:

Through the application of IoT (Internet of Things) and intelligent edge services in the Azure IoT platform, The Marsden Group, in collaboration with Unilever and Microsoft were able to create this digital representation of every machine and process within the factory and to connect every single piece of equipment so that huge volumes of data (from productive cycle times to temperatures) can be sent into the model. The data is then collected and using advanced analytics and machine learning, it's possible to predict outcomes and inform operations to make massive improvements in efficiency levels.

Judson Althoff, Microsoft's executive vice president of Worldwide Commercial Business at the time, had described The Marsden Group's digital twins project as "one of the most impressive I've seen," per the press release.  

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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