2002 Readers' Choice Awards: And the winners are...

The ballots have been cast. The votes have been tabulated. Here are the winners of the 2002 Readers' Choice Awards for best products, service and support.

By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

 

ONCE AGAIN, we put the choices where they rightly belong: in the capable hands of Control Design readers. They responded by telling us--quite clearly in many cases--which automation suppliers provide the best instrumentation, controls, and automation technologies for the industrial machine builder community. They also let us know what companies they think provide excellent service, too.
 
A few months ago, we sent survey forms to nearly 10,000 Control Design subscribers who said they have the authority to specify, recommend, or buy the industrial automation and control products that are installed on their machines. Vendors are ineligible to vote, so we didn’t knowingly send a ballot to any supplier.

The ballot was what marketers call an unaided survey. We didn't include a list of vendors to choose from. We just provided 50 hardware and software categories and asked the participants to fill in the single best company for the products he or she had experience with. We received responses from 300 readers.

While they were choosing the best companies, participants also were asked to rate the service and support they receive from these companies on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent).

Among the 48 product categories we've listed, 34 (71% of the categories) returned clear margins of victory of 10 percentage points or greater versus the second-best vote-getter. Fourteen of those were landslides, with margins of victory of more than 25 percentage points, slightly less than the 16 landslide victories we recorded last year.

Similar to last year's result, 10 of the category results were squeakers, with a margin of victory of 5 percentage points or less, including five races that ended in statistical dead heats.

Of the 49 winners (there were some ties) listed last year, 35 defended their turf by winning the category again this year. Rockwell Automation successfully defended all 16 of its wins, as did Emerson Process Management in the four categories it won last year.

Our published results include only those companies that received at least a 5% share.

Out of Sight
Outright market domination was the result in a number of product categories. Seven categories had results where the winners garnered more than 50% of the vote.

If we were awarding a "Dominator Prize" this year, Rockwell Automation would take it home as a result of receiving 70% of the PLC category vote and 67% of the PLC Programming vote. No other company in either category received double-digit support. Hoffman also achieved a resounding 67% share in the Enclosure category.

Autodesk again had a commanding position in the E-CAD software category with 60% of the total. As might have been expected considering last year's result, Bebco again earned a 56% share in the Purging category. Belden retained a solid 56% majority in the Wiring and Cabling category. Bently-Nevada moved into the majority-vote category this year with a 52% result in the Vibration Measurement category.
 
There were seven other results where the winner didn't receive a majority, but beat the nearest competition by 25 percentage points or more. Emerson Process Management's victory in Pressure Measurement was 37 points, while GE Fanuc won the CNC Controller category by 26 percentage points and the CNC Software category by 25. Rockwell Automation's margin of victory exceeded 25 percentage points in four categories: 27 points in I/O Systems, 30 in Motor Starters, 36 in Electric Drives, and 41 in Operator Interface.

Rockwell Automation won or tied for first place in 14 hardware and three software categories. Other multiple winners included Emerson Process Management (Rosemount) for defending its four measurement categories, and Parker Automation with successful re-elections in both the hydraulic and pneumatic component categories, along with a first-place showing for Linear Actuators. GE Fanuc won twice with clear victories for CNC Controller and CNC Programming Software.

Down to the Wire
This year there were 10 highly contested categories. Honeywell and Siemens-Moore ended in a statistical dead heat for Loop Controller laurels, splitting 39% of the vote in a category where seven companies received at least 5% of the vote.
 
Advantech, Rockwell Automation, and Z-World tied for first place in the Single-Board Computer category, a group that showed a wide diversity of preference. The three companies shared just 26% of the vote, with no other company receiving even 5%.

Yokogawa unseated Honeywell in the Data Recorder category by a slim 28% to 25% margin, Rockwell Automation slipped past Phoenix Contact for Terminal Block honors, also by just 3 percentage points. Instrinsic Safety was another category with fierce competition: six companies received at least 5% of the vote. MTL, Pepperl+Fuchs, and RStahl all share the top spot, each having garnered 14% of the total.

All three Parker Automation wins were close races: The Daedal group finished ahead of Festo 13% to 8% in Linear Actuators; Compumotor/Parker nipped PacSci 21% to 17% in the Stepper Motor category; and Parker tied for first with SMC for Pneumatic Component honors, each garnering 19%.

The Safety Network/Components category was very competitive and finished in a statistical dead heat, with Rockwell Automation and STI sharing 36% of the votes cast. Four companies grabbed at least 11% of the vote, one of only two categories (Relays was the other) where four companies hit double-digit tallies. Safety Relays was tight, too, with Rockwell Automation edging past Pilz Automation Safety 27% to 23%.

Nothing Without Good Service
This year, 100 individual companies received enough votes to appear in the published results. You thought enough of 69 of them¯the same total as last year¯to give them service and support scores of 4.0 or better, representing very good-to-excellent performance on a scale of 1-5. As was the case last year, some of the 69 companies achieved these noteworthy service marks in multiple categories.

The Service and Support table (See Sidebar below) lists those companies that readers identified as providing service with ratings of 4.0.
 
For 2002, you gave service and support grades of 4.5 or higher 11 times to nine different companies, compared with nine times and eight companies in 2001.

The highest service rating this year was 4.7, given to Compumotor/Parker for Motion Control Software. Compumotor and GE Fanuc both received 4.6 scores for Servo Motor.

AutomationDirect for PLC, Honeywell for Industrial Computer, Rockwell Automation for both Alarm/Annunciator and Electrical Connectors, and 3COM for Network Components received service scores of 4.5. In addition, Banner Engineering, ifm efector, and Pepperl+Fuchs all received 4.5 service ratings for the Presence Sensor category.

Eighteen companies, a noteworthy increase from last year's 13, received 4.0 or better service scores in two or more categories. Rockwell Automation/Rockwell Software achieved these scores in 20 product categories, three times receiving scores of 4.3 or higher.

General Electric/GE Fanuc/GE Cisco was given very good or better service scores in eight separate categories, also reaching or exceeding 4.3 on three occasions.

Emerson Process Management (Fisher-Rosemount/Rosemount/MicroMotion) scored 4.0 or better in seven product categories, five of which achieved scores of 4.3 or better.

Banner Engineering made the great service list four times, twice scoring 4.3 or better, while a group of six companies earned triple recognition for service: Compumotor/Parker, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Siemens, Scientific Technologies Inc., and Invensys (Wonderware/Triconex/Foxboro).

Seven other companies were recognized twice for service: AutomationDirect, Bosch-Rexroth, Honeywell, National Instruments, Omega Engineering, Schneider Electric, and Turck.

Here are the complete results. We welcome your further analysis and comment about this year's outcome.

Alarm/Annunciator
1. 25% Ametek/Panalarm
2.* 13% Rockwell Automation 
 11% Federal Signal 
4. 9% Ronan Engineering 
5. 6% SquareD/Schneider Electric 

Controller, CNC System
1. 46% GE Fanuc 
2. 20% Rockwell Automation  
3. 11% Siemens E&A 

Controller, Loop
1. 20% Siemens Moore  
 19% Honeywell 
3.* 8% Rockwell Automation  
 8% Yokogawa 
 7% Foxboro/Invensys 
6.* 5% ABB 
 5% Fisher-Rosemount/Emerson Process Management 

Controller, Programmable Logic
1. 70% Rockwell Automation  
2.* 6% Siemens E&A 
 5% GE Fanuc  
 5% AutomationDirect 

Data Acquisition System
1. 30% National Instruments 
2.* 8% Honeywell 
 8% Rockwell Automation 

Data Recorder
1. 28% Yokogawa 
2. 25% Honeywell 
3. 10% Eurotherm-Chessel 
4. 5% Foxboro 

Electrical Connectors
1. 24% AMP/Tyco Electronics 
2.* 9% Thomas & Betts 
 7% Phoenix Contact 
4.* 5% Amphenol 
 5% Rockwell Automation

Electric Drive
1. 42% Rockwell Automation 
2.* 6% ABB 
 6% Siemens E&A 
 6% Yaskawa 
 5% GE Fanuc 

Encoder/Resolver
1. 23% BEI 
2.* 11% Rockwell Automation 
 10%  ;Encoder Products Co. 

Hydraulic Components
1. 42% Parker Hannifin 
2.* 19% Vickers/Eaton 
 17% Bosch-Rexroth 

Industrial Computer
1. 17% Rockwell Automation  
2.* 11% Dell   
 10% Advantech  
4.* 5% Honeywell  
 5% Siemens E&A 
 5% Xycom Automation 

Industrial Enclosures
1. 67% Hoffman 
2. 12% Rittal 
3. 5% Saginaw 

Industrial Network Components
1. 24% Rockwell Automation 
2.* 9% GE Cisco 
 9% Siemens E&A 
4.* 5% 3COM 
 5% Hirschmann 
 5% Phoenix Contact 

Input/Output System
1. 40% Rockwell Automation 
2. 13% Opto 22 
3.* 6% National Instruments 
 6% Siemens E&A 

Intrinsic Safety
1.* 14% MTL 
 14% Pepperl+Fuchs 
 14% RStahl 
4.* 9% STI 
 7% Turck 
6. 5% Rockwell Automation 

Interlock Switch
1. 38% Rockwell Automation 
2.* 16% STI 
 15% Schmersal 
4. 5% SquareD/Schneider Electric 

Light Tower
1. 38% Rockwell Automation 
2. 22% SquareD/Schneider Electric 
3. 13% Federal Signal 
4. 9% Patlite 

Linear Actuator
1. 13% Parker Daedal 
2. 8% Festo 
 6% SMC 

Measurement, Flow
1. 25% Rosemount/Emerson Process Management 
2.* 9% MicroMotion/Emerson Process Management  
 8% Foxboro/Invensys 
4.* 6% Endress+Hauser 
 5% Omega Engineering 

Measurement, Level
1. 26% Rosemount/Emerson Process Management 
2. 10% Siemens Milltronics 
3. 7% Magnetrol 
 6% Endress+Hauser

Measurement, Load Cell/Weighing
1. 22% Mettler Toldeo 
2. 12% Hardy Instruments 
3. 9% BLH 
4. 6% Kistler-Morse 

Measurement, Pressure
1. 45% Rosemount/Emerson Process Management 
2. 8% Foxboro/Invensys 

Measurement, Temperature
1. 25% Rosemount/Emerson Process Management 
2. 13% Omega Engineering 
3. 6% Honeywell

Measurement, Vibration
1. 52% Bently Nevada 
2.* 8% Entek/Rockwell Automation 
 6% PMC/Beta 

Motor, Electric
1. 37% Baldor 
2. 17% Rockwell Automation 
3.* 9% GE 
 9% Regal-Beloit 
5. 6% U.S. Motors/Emerson Electric

Motor Starter
1. 49% Rockwell Automation 
2. 19% SquareD/Schneider Electric 
3.* 7% Cutler-Hammer 
 7% GE

Motor, Servo
1. 27% Rockwell Automation 
2.* 10% Emerson Motor Technologies 
 10% Yaskawa 
 8% GE Fanuc 
5.* 7% Bosch-Rexroth 
 6% Compumotor/Parker

Motor, Stepper
1. 21% Compumotor/Parker 
2. 17% Superior/PacSci 
3. 10% Rockwell Automation 
4. 7% GE Fanuc 

Operator Interface
1. 49% Rockwell Automation 
2.* 8% GE Fanuc 
 7% Cutler-Hammer 

Panel Meter
1. 35% Red Lion 
2. 17% Simpson 
3. 6% Yokogawa 

Pneumatic Components
1.* 19% Parker Hannifin 
 19% SMC 
3. 13% Festo 
4. 8% MAC 
5. 5% Numatics 

Power Supply
1. 32% Sola/Hevi-Duty  
2. 13% Acopian 
3.* 7% Phoenix Contact 
 6% Lambda 
 6% PowerOne 

Presence Sensor
1. 23% Turck 
2.* 14% ifm efector 
 13% Banner Engineering 
 12% Rockwell Automation  
5. 7% Pepperl+Fuchs 

Purging System
1. 56% Bebco Industries 
2. 7% Pepperl+Fuchs 

Relay
1. 27% Rockwell Automation  
2. 17% Idec 
3.* 14% Potter & Brumfield 
 12% Omron 
5. 5% SquareD/Schneider Electric 

Safety Curtain
1. 43% Banner Engineering 
2. 30% STI 
3.* 10% Rockwell Automation  
 8% Sick 

Safety Network/Components
1.* 18% Rockwell Automation 
 16% STI 
3.* 11% Banner Engineering 
 11% Pilz Automation Safety 
5. 8% Triconex/Invensys

Safety Relay
1. 27% Rockwell Automation 
2. 23% Pilz Automation Safety 
3. 12% STI 
4.* 7% Banner Engineering 
 5% SquareD/Schneider Electric

Signal Conditioner
1. 20% Moore Industries 
2. 13% Action Instruments 
3.* 7% Phoenix Contact 
 6% Sola/Hevi-Duty 

Single-Board Computer
1.* 10% Z-World  
 8% Advantech  
 8% Rockwell Automation  

Software, CNC
1. 47% GE Fanuc 
2. 22% Rockwell Software 
3. 9% Siemens E&A

Software, Electrical CAD
1. 60% Autodesk 
2. 12% Via Development 
3. 8% ECT Intl.

Software, HMI
1. 29% Rockwell Automation 
2. 23% Wonderware/Invensys 
3. 12% Intellution/Emerson Process Management

Software, Motion Control
1. 30% Rockwell Software 
2. 8% Compumotor/Parker 
3.* 5% Emerson Motor Technologies 
 5% Yaskawa 

Software, PLC Programming
1. 67& Rockwell Software 
2.* 6% AutomationDirect 
 6% GE Fanuc 

Terminal Block
1. 25% Rockwell Automation 
2. 22% Phoenix Contact 
3. 13% Wiedmüller 
4.* 9% Wago
 8% Entrelec

Vision System
1. 32% DVT 
2. 22% Cognex 
3.* 8% Keyence 
 6% Omron 

Wire and Cable
1. 56% Belden 
2. 6% General Wire & Cable 


2002 Readers' Choice Awards:
The Best in Customer Service

TOUGH TIMES are no time to purchase lackluster products from indifferent suppliers. Our second annual Readers' Choice Awards survey found the vendors with the best technologies...and rated their customer service efforts.

Another key measure of every supplier is customer service. So we also asked readers to rank their suppliers' customer service on a scale of 1 (for poor) to 5 (excellent). Those results follow.

The Service Leaders
The 69 Companies Receiving Service Grades of Very Good and Better
(5=Excellent, 4=Very Good, 3=Good, 2=Marginal; 1=Unsatisfactory):

4.7  
Compumotor/Parker   Software, Motion Control
  
4.6  
GE Fanuc  Motor, Servo
Compumotor/Parker  Motor, Servo
  
4.5  
3COM  Industrial Network Components
AutomationDirect  Controller, Programmable Logic
Banner Engineering  Presence Sensor
Honeywell  Industrial Computer
ifm efector  Presence Sensor
Pepperl+Fuchs  Presence Sensor
Rockwell Automation  Alarm/Annunciator
Rockwell Automation  Electrical Connectors
  
4.4  
AutomationDirect  Software, PLC Programming
Bently-Nevada  Measurement, Vibration
Bosch-Rexroth  Hydraulic Components
Dell  Industrial Computer
Emerson Motor Technologies  Motor, Servo
Encoder Products Co.  Encoder/Resolver
Festo  Pneumatic Components
General Wire & Cable  Wire and Cable
Magnetrol  Measurement, Level
MicroMotion/Emerson Process Management  Measurement, Flow
Pepperl+Fuchs  Intrinsic Safety
Rosemount/Emerson Process Management  Measurement, Level
Rosemount/Emerson Process Management  Measurement, Temperature
Turck  Intrinsic Safety
  
4.3  
Banner Engineering  Safety Network/Components
Bosch-Rexroth  Motor, Servo
Endress+Hauser  Measurement, Flow
GE Fanuc  Electric Drive
GE Fanuc  Controller, Programmable Logic
National Instruments  Data Acquisition Systems
Compumotor/Parker  Motor, Stepper
Pepperl+Fuchs  Purging System
Phoenix Contact  Industrial Network Components
Rittal  Industrial Enclosures
Rockwell Automation  Interlock Switch
Rosemount/Emerson Process Management  Measurement, Flow
SMC  Pneumatic Components
Triconex/Invensys  Safety Network/Components
  
4.2  
ABB  Electric Drive
Banner Engineering  Safety Relay
DVT  Vision System
General Electric  Motor Starter
General Electric  Motor, Electric
GE Fanuc  Software, CNC
Hoffman  Industrial Enclosures
Keyence  Vision System
Omega Engineering  Measurement, Temperature
Rockwell Automation  Controller, Programmable Logic
Rockwell Automation  Input/Output System
Rockwell Automation  Intrinsic Safety
Rockwell Automation  Safety Curtain
Rockwell Automation  Terminal Block
Rosemount/Emerson Process Management  Measurement, Pressure
Saginaw  Industrial Enclosures
Siemens Milltronics  Measurement, Level
Superior/PacSci  Motor, Stepper
Thomas & Betts  Electrical Connectors
Wiedmüller  Terminal Block
Z-World  Single-Board Computer
  
4.1  
Acopian  Power Supply
Banner Engineering  Safety Curtain
BEI  Encoder/Resolver
Foxboro/Invensys  Measurement, Pressure
Mettler Toledo  Measurement, Weighing/Load Cell
Moore Industries  Signal Conditioner
Opto 22  Input/Output System
Phoenix Contact  Power Supply
Phoenix Contact  Terminal Block
Regal-Beloit  Motor, Electric
Rockwell Automation  Industrial Computer
Rockwell Automation  Motor Starter
Rockwell Automation  Presence Sensor
Rockwell Automation  Relay
Rockwell Automation  Software, HMI
Rockwell Software  Software, PLC Programming
SquareD/Schneider Electric  Motor Starter
SquareD/Schneider Electric  Relay
Siemens E&A  Controller, Programmable Logic
Simpson  Panel Meter
Vickers/Eaton  Hydraulic Components
Yaskawa  Electric Drive
  
4.0  
Advantech  Single-Board Computer
Belden  Wire and Cable
Cutler-Hammer  Operator Interface
ECT Intl.  Software, Electrical CAD
Fisher-Rosemount/Emerson Process Management  Controller, Loop
GE Cisco  Industrial Network Components
GE Fanuc  Controller, CNC System
Hardy Instruments  Measurement, Weighing/Load Cell
Honeywell  Data Acquisition Systems1
Kistler-Morse  Measurement, Weighing/Load Cell
National Instruments  Input/Output System
Numatics  Pneumatic Components
Omega Engineering  Measurement, Flow
Patlite  Light Tower
PMC/Beta  Measurement, Vibration
Rockwell Automation  Electric Drive
Rockwell Automation  Light Tower
Rockwell Automation  Operator Interface
Rockwell Automation  Safety Network/Components
Rockwell Automation  Safety Relay
Rockwell Automation  Single-Board Computer 4.3
Sick  Safety Curtain
Siemens-Moore  Controller, Loop
SMC  Linear Actuator
Sola/Hevi-Duty  Power Supply
STI  Interlock Switch
STI  Safety Curtain
STI  Safety Relay
Turck  Presence Sensor
Via Development  Software, Electrical CAD
Wonderware/Invensys  Software, HMI
Yokogawa  Controller, Loop