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.

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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.

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