The 1,500 distributor locations that carry Schneider Electric products can now sell Telemecanique industrial-automation products, including the Modicon line of programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

The company said it made the move because PLCs are now being used in more mainstream applications far from the factory floor, where they manage communications between products such as sensors, motor controls and drives in industrial control systems.

A Schneider spokesperson said approximately 500 distributor branches were now authorized to sell PLCs before the extension. She said if a distributor doesn't currently have the technical expertise in-house to sell PLCs, they can rely on Schneider representatives in most field sales offices that have automation expertise, or the company's customer information center. Additional training in automation products and applications will be available to distributor staff.

Telemecanique and Modicon became part of Schneider Electric through acquisitions. Acquired by Schneider Electric in 1988, Telemecanique has a growing niche in smaller PLCs. Modicon has an interesting history that goes back to the invention of the PLC. Schneider acquired Modicon in 1994 through an acquisition of AEG, which had previously purchased the Modicon line from Gould in 1989.