You can't go wrong when you have readers who are eager report who they think are the companies they find the most helpful in solving their ever-changing automation needs.
That's the case again with this year's Control Design Readers' Choice Awards. We just put those choices in the hands of our performance-focused Control Design readers. They answered our call again and told us which automation suppliers provide the best instrumentation, controls, and automation technologies for their industrial machine builder community. They also made it clear which of those companies they think provide excellent service and support.
Our model for this award remained the same. Some months ago, we sent survey forms to more than 12,000 Control Design subscribers who tell us they have authority to specify, recommend, or purchase industrial automation and control products for their machines. Vendors are not eligible to vote, so we didn't knowingly let any supplier get a ballot. And, for the few occasions when we found a vendor in the response mix, we purged the ballot with a sense of righteousness and delight. This is for our machine builder and system integrator readers and no one else.
Marketers call our approach an unaided survey. We never include a list of vendors or product brands to choose from. We listed 48 hardware and software categories and asked the participants to fill in the one best company for the products he or she had experience with. We received responses from 350 readers.
While they were choosing the best companies, we also asked the participants to rate the service and support they receive from these companies on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent).
Great Service Is Being Recognized But it's Dropping
Our published results include only those companies that received at least a 5% share in their category. Great service is being recognized, but it's dropping. Eighty-five companies, 15% fewer than in 2002, received enough votes (5% or greater share) to appear in the published results.
Of those 85, you awarded 60 of them service and support scores of 4.0 or better. That's very good-to-excellent performance on a scale of 1-5. That number of companies is a significant 12%-drop compared to the number recognized for their great service last year. The Service and Support table below lists those companies that readers identified as providing service with ratings of 4.0.
Further, in 2002, nine companies received service and support scores of 4.5 or better. This year you awarded that recognition to just four companies. Is this a warning shot across the suppliers' bow?
Nonetheless, any company making this year's service and support list should be gratified to receive this reader vote of confidence. As was the case last year, some of the companies achieved these noteworthy service marks in multiple categories.
This was AutomationDirect's year for service recognition. It was the only company that received a service mark of 4.6 from the readers, and it earned the mark in three categories: Operator Interface Terminal, PLC, and Terminal Blocks.
Three companies were given 4.5 scores: Banner Engineering for presence Sensing, Schneider Electric/Modicon for PLC Programming Software, and Siemens Energy & Automation for Industrial Network Components.
Twenty different companies received service scores of 4.0 or better in multiple categories.
Rockwell Automation/Rockwell Software achieved this in 22 product categories. Schneider Electric was recognized for service in seven product categories, among them one 4.5 and three 4.4 scores. Siemens had similar results, with seven service recognitions, among them one 4.5 and one 4.4.
Phoenix Contact was recognized for service in six categories, receiving its highest marks in the categories of Intrinsic Safety and Power Supplies.
The readers recognized Emerson for service in five categories, with its best result coming in the Motion Control Software category.
Four-category service recognition was bestowed on AutomationDirect, Danaher Motion, GE Fanuc, and Omega Engineering. ABB Automation, Omron Electronics, and Parker Hannifin each received reader recognition in three product categories, while Baldor Electric, Banner Engineering, Eaton Electrical (the former Eaton/Cutler-Hammer group), Endress+Hauser, ifm efector, Turck, and Yaskawa Electric rounded out the multiple winners category with two each.
2003 Service and Support Leaders
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Banner Engineering Presence Sensing
Schneider Electric/Modicon Software, PLC Programming
Siemens E&A Industrial Networks/Components
ABB Automation Industrial Electric Drives
AutomationDirect Software, PLC Programming
Omega Engineering Presence Sensing
Pepperl+Fuchs Presence Sensing
Pyromation Measurement, Temperature
Rockwell Automation I/O Systems
Schneider Electric Industrial Electric Drives
Schneider Electric Safety Relays
Schneider Electric/Modicon PLC
Siemens E&A PLC
Watlow Measurement, Temperature
Banner Engineering Safety Relays
Bosch Rexroth/Indramat Software, Motion Control
Eaton/Cutler Hammer Light Towers
Emerson/Control Technique Software, Motion Control
Encoder Products Encoders/Resolvers
GE Fanuc/Intellution Software, HMI
Lapp USA/Olflex Wire&Cable