This month our cover story looks at ways that machine control designers ultimately justify a move to new instrumentation and automation for their machines.
When we started the reporting process for this article, we expected many of the machine builders who graciously contributed to the article would say they simply justify new automation on the basis of rigorous calculations of the capital required, one-time non-recurring costs, and significant out-of-pocket lifecycle costs associated with the project to see if it gave their company the ROI they required.
After all, no matter what market you compete in, a healthy ROI is the essential, magic number to ensure economic growth in any organization. Without it, no project would ever see the light of day.
It's not that we didn't hear about that, we did. But what sent the article off in the direction of its final form was a different recurring formula to calculate investment decisions. Many of these machine builders believed fundamentally that if they sought first and foremost to clearly understand customer needs and,to use a well-worn phrase,exceed those customer expectations, they'd find all the justification they'd need to invest in new control schemes and architectures.
That's good news for our marketplace. Rather than continuing to hunker down, fearful of an uncertain economy, investing only when forced to, many of you are doing the right thing. By being proactive about your customers' success, you're solidifying your own future.
Allow your customers tell you how to help them and you'll be a winner far more often than not.
Speaking of winning suppliers, when next we meet, we'll be revealing the winners and discussing the results of our Control Design Readers' Choice Awards Survey.
That's my annual cue to encourage, exhort, and cajole those among you who will soon receive an invitation to the online balloting site to take the few minutes and complete the survey, based on your experience within the technologies listed.
I don't know of a better opportunity in Machine Builder Nation to make your opinion count about the companies you think provide the best value and service in the approximately 50 hardware and software technology fields the survey covers.
The editorial staff here doesn't pretend to think that it knows as much as you do about the application of technology in the machine control community. That's why you'll not see us involved with Editors' Choice Awards or some other grand-sounding idea that decides it knows better than you do.
Now, from time to time I hear from a reader who thinks the survey is too long, and effectively a turn-off to those deciding to fill it out. Well, I guess I understand that, I just don't know what I can, or should, do about it.
Every year we review the categories, and look to weed out the ones that get minimal response or no longer have a reasonable connection to machine control application. We also may add a category from time to time, usually when we find out about its significance from the many of you who contribute to our articles each month.
We can, however, streamline the format, so this time, instead of listing the categories alphabetically, we've sub-set them into groups: Operator Interface, Control Platforms, Motion Control, Sensing and Measurement and so on. That way, if there's a grouping you're less involved in or don't have strong feelings about, you can skip over it and move on to more relevant categories.
So, please take a few minutes and be heard. We're listening,and so are your suppliers, who just might learn that they have to work harder than they thought to meet your expectations.