The shape of things to come

Editor in Chief Joe Feeley tells us what's around the corner in 2006, including an increase in the number of CONTROL DESIGN issues you'll receive this year, and some new projects that are underway.

By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

WHAT BETTER time than January to spend a little time telling you what’s around the 2006 corner. By the way, full credit to those of you who noticed that we have a January issue this year. We’ll do 10 issues in 2006, while we continue to bring our Industrial Networking quarterly to the majority of you.

We’re working on two big, new projects in particular that I want to be sure you know about. That’s because we need you involved in them, if we expect them to be successful.

First, we want the real story about how you buy. “Did you say, ‘How I buy, Joe’?” Yes, we’ll be writing a major cover story about how industrial OEMs research, specify and, ultimately, purchase the automation and control components embedded in their machines.

The buying process has changed for most of you over the past five, maybe even 10, years. To sort that out, we’re in the midst of an extensive study, which is based on a focused questionnaire we sent to many of you earlier this month. For example, we want to know whether you’re more dependent on the web now than you were. Do you actually make automation purchases on the web now? Has the quality of service you get from the more “traditional” channels changed? Do you answer differently depending on what machine-builder segment you’re in? It’s these types of questions and a few others that will let us compile what we think will be a helpful article. It just might clue the vendor community in to things you want done better.

We’ll publish the results of this study in the March issue. In the meantime, I can’t stress enough how helpful it will be if you step up and give us your best effort in completing the questionnaire. If you’re party to the machine control choices in your company—and you didn’t get an e-mail link to the study questions—get in touch with me. I’ll hook you up.

There’s another big project we’ll report on in the April issue. It’s our first edition of the Control Design Innovator Awards.

The premise is pretty clear. We want to find, acknowledge, and celebrate industrial machine builders that have done special things with their use of automation and controls to gain a competitive edge, to gain market share, or, in some cases, just be a solid survivor in the North American machine builder market.

You can nominate your own company. A customer (or customers) can nominate you. If you have a partnership with a particular automation vendor, it can nominate you.

Once nominated, our editors and some independent experts will evaluate the nominations and follow up with the companies to gather enough information to make that final determination.

The number of companies honored will depend on the quantity and quality of the entries. Ideally, we’d love to have at least one winner each from major industry segments such as packaging equipment, semiconductor tools, machining centers, material handling, metalworking, rolling mills, converting, and so forth.

You’ll find the nomination form on the home page of Executive Editor Jim Montague is managing the project, so if you have any questions, get in touch with him or me. The nomination window will close soon.

There’s much to do to make the promise of 2006 into something real. You know that better than we do. As for us, we’ll keep trying to help you do it. Take a few minutes and help us get started.
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