In some circles, it might be as big an event as the Oscars. Potential winners hold their breath with anxious optimism to find out if they’ll be feted by CONTROL DESIGN’s academy of readers for doing a good job to help those readers solve automation and control problems. Perhaps that’s a small exaggeration.
Our model for this balloting hasn’t changed since we first presented Readers’ Choice results in 2001. During September, we sent survey forms to about 15,000 CONTROL DESIGN subscribers, who tell us they have authority to specify, recommend, or purchase industrial automation and control products for industrial machines.
Vendors can’t vote, so we didn’t knowingly let any supplier get a ballot. If we did come across a vendor in the responses, we vigorously expunged it. This voting is entirely and only for our machine builder and system integrator readers.
As before, our ballot is what’s known as an unaided survey. We don’t include a list of vendors or product brands to choose from. We listed 50-odd hardware and software categories and asked participants to name the best company for the products with which they have experience. We received responses from more than 240 readers.
While they chose the best technology value providers, we also had them rate the service and support they receive from these companies on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).
Our published results include only those companies that received at least a 5% share of the vote in their category.
The number of companies making the cut this year dropped noticeably to 82 from 93 companies in the 2004 result. Some of this is caused by market consolidation and three fewer categories this year. Nonetheless, 11 companies are new to the listing this year.
Among that group, there were a number that lapped the field. Some 28 companies received at least double the votes of the second-place finisher, and nine companies garnered a clear +50% majority vote in their category, down from 12 last year.
The number of close races—decided by margins of 5% or less—increased to 10, compared with nine in 2004. Four of the races ended in statistical dead heats between two companies, one fewer than last year.
As was the case last year, nine companies turned in multiple-category wins. Continuing the dominant vote-getting power of previous years, Rockwell Automation won outright or tied for first place in 16 hardware and four software categories. Other multiple winners include Emerson Process Measurement with four; General Electric/GE Fanuc won three times; and Hoffman, Honeywell, National Instruments, Parker, and Pepperl+Fuchs each won twice.
Of those 82 companies that made the list, you awarded 55 of them (67%) service and support scores of 4.0 or better—very good-to-excellent performance as measured on a scale of 1-5. By comparison, in 2004 you gave service kudos to 74% of the listed companies. That seems to say you’re getting a little tougher giving out high praise on service and support.
However, for those you did chose to put on the list, you awarded higher praise a little more than last year. As you did in 2004, you chose to recognize seven companies a total of 12 times with service scores of 4.5 or better, although last year’s 4.7 score (by two companies) wasn’t duplicated.
The noticeable difference is that of the 144 times you recognized those 55 companies this year, a healthy 44% received a score of 4.3 or above. Compare that with last year when you gave service scores 4.3 or better 38% of the time.
Whether achieving a score of 4.6 or 4.0, any company making the service and support list should be pleased to receive these readers’ vote of confidence. As was the case last year, some of the companies achieved these commendable service marks more than just once. The Service and Support table (p.46) lists those companies that readers identified as providing service with ratings of 4.0 or better.
Baldor, Rockwell Automation, and Yaskawa were alone in achieving the highest service scores of 4.6.
Five companies—AutomationDirect, Galil Controls, Numatics, Rockwell Automation and Siemens E&A—tallied 4.5 scores across nine product categories, with both AutomationDirect and Rockwell each achieving this commendable score three times.