Results of our 2006 Readers' Choice Awards

Value rises above the rest as readers make known their choices among automation suppliers. Check out which companies they recognize for providing the best technology values, services and support.

2006 Readers' Choice AwardsBy Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief


HOT AIR sometimes isn’t a good thing. That’s particularly true when it comes to exaggerated claims of product performance that machine control designers would be wise to steer clear of.

For six years now we’ve trusted you to tell us—with your votes—which of the vendors provide the best value for you, based on your experiences using those products—not the distracting descriptions.

It’s those evaluations that make some automation suppliers’ products rise above the rest. After the usual careful consideration, Control Design’s readers told us how they rate the technology value of suppliers in 54 product categories.

Our model for this balloting remains unchanged from its 2001 origins. This summer, we sent ballots to about 15,000 Control Design subscribers who tell us they have influence over the purchase of industrial automation and control products for industrial machines.

The vendors themselves aren’t eligible to vote, and we didn’t knowingly let any supplier get a ballot. If we did come across a vendor in the responses, we gleefully deleted it. This voting is for our machine builder and system integrator readers and no one else.

The ballot again was what’s known as an unaided survey. We don’t include a dropdown list of vendors or product brands to choose from. We listed the hardware and software categories and asked participants to name the company that provides the best value for the products they work with. We received responses from more than 250 readers.

As they voted for the best technology value providers, we also had them rate the service and support they receive from these companies on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Our published results include only those companies that received at least a 5% share of the vote in their category.


     2006 Readers' Chocie Awards
2005 Readers' Choice Awards
2004 Readers' Choice Awards
2003 Readers' Choice Awards


Change Is Good
While we report results in four additional categories this year, the number of companies making the cut this year climbed significantly to an even 100, up from 82 companies in the 2005 results. That’s a hopeful indication of increasing competition. We found 25 companies joining the elite list for the first time or returning after at least a year’s absence. Voters dismissed seven companies that were listed in 2005.


As happens every year, many companies are easy winners in their category. This year 34 of the 54 (compared with last year’s 34 of 50) categories had winners with margins of greater than 10 percentage points. Among that group, eight companies received a 50% majority vote in their category, down slightly from nine last year.

Another indication of increased competition: the number of close races decided by a margin of 5 percentage points or less increased again to 12, compared with 10 in 2005. Five of the races ended in statistical dead heats between two or more companies, one more than last year.

Eight companies won in multiple-categories. Ever-present Rockwell Automation won or tied for first place in 21 hardware and four software categories. Other multiple winners include Emerson Process Measurement with four category wins; General Electric/GE Fanuc won three times, while Hoffman, Honeywell, National Instruments, Parker, and Pepperl+Fuchs each won twice.

Service Is Sizzling
Of the 100 distinct companies that appear in the category results, you chose to award 82 of them with service and support scores of 4.0 or better (very good-to-excellent performance as measured on a scale of 1-5). In contrast, last year you gave service kudos to 67% of the listed companies.

While you chose to put more companies on the service kudos list this year, you awarded your highest praise (4.5 or higher) to just one company—Schneider Electric—compared with seven companies last year. But you largely duplicated the number of times you awarded at least 4.3 scores compared with last year.

Any company finding itself on the service and support list should be pleased to receive this vote of confidence, and some of the companies achieved terrific service marks more than just once. The Service and Support table (p.46) lists those companies that readers identified as providing service with ratings of 4.0 or better.

Voters awarded 28 companies (compared with 23 last year) a service score of 4.0 or better in at least one category. Rockwell Automation achieved this in 30 product categories. Siemens received 4.0 or better ratings in seven categories, AutomationDirect, National Instruments and Schneider Electric each were honored six times, while Bosch Rexroth and Phoenix Contact made the grade five times.

Emerson Process Management and Turck were given service honors in four categories, while Banner Engineering, Beckhoff, Endress+Hauser, and Invensys were named three times. B&R Industrial Automation, Baldor, Danaher, Hoffmann, Honeywell, IDEC, ifm efector, Omega Engineering, Omron, Parker Hannifin, Pepperl+Fuchs, Red Lion Controls, STI, Wago, and Yaskawa all were honored twice.

Here, with products listed alphabetically, is this year’s “all-star team.” As always, we welcome your analysis and thoughts about the outcome.

 2006 Readers' Chocie Awards

Sixth Annual Readers' Choice Awards

(*Differences of less than 3% are not statistically significant)



1. Rockwell Automation 20%
2. Ametek Panalarm 15%
3. Edwards 8%
    Ronan 8%
  *Federal Signal 6%

Ball Screw/Lead Screw
1. Danaher 21%
2. Nook 15%
  *THK America 13%
4. Bosch Rexroth 8%
    NSK 8%

Controller, CNC
1. GE Fanuc 30%
2. Rockwell Automation 13%
    Siemens E&A 13%
4. Haas Automation 9%
  *Galil Motion Control 7%

Controller, Loop
1. Honeywell 21%
2. Red Lion 13%
  *Siemens E&A 12%
4. Omega Engineering 10%
  *Rockwell Automation 9%
6. Invensys 7%
    Omron 7%

Controller, Motion 
1. Rockwell Automation 41%
2. Galil Motion Control 9%
  *Bosch Rexroth 7%

Controller, PLC 
1. Rockwell Automation 62%
2. AutomationDirect 13%
3. Schneider Electric 5%
    Siemens E&A 5%

Data Acquistion System 
1. National Instruments 33%
2. Rockwell Automation 25%
3. Invensys 6%

Data Recorder 
1. Honeywell 17%
  *Yokogawa 15%
3. Invensys 10%
    National Instruments 10%
5. Astro-Med 6%

1. Rockwell Automation 24%
2. BEI 17%
3. Danaher 12%
4. Encoder Products 7%
  *Heidenhain 5%

Hydraulic System Controls/Components
1. Parker Hannifin 43%
2. Bosch Rexroth 18%
3. Eaton/Vickers 8%
  *Enerpac 6%

Industrial Computer 
1. Rockwell Automation 32%
2. Advantech 14%
3. B&R Industrial Automation 6%
    Dell 6%
  *Beckhoff Automation 5%
  *Pro-face/Xycom 5%

Industrial Electrical Connectors/Cordsets 
1. Turck 29%
2. Woodhead Connectivity 12%
3. Tyco/AMP 9%
  *Phoenix 7%
  *Rockwell Automation 7%
Industrial Electric Motor Drive 
1. Rockwell Automation 41%
2. Lenze/AC Tech 10%
3. Yaskawa 7%
  *Baldor 6%
  *Bosch Rexroth 5%

Industrial Enclosure—Metallic 
1. Hoffman 63%
2. Saginaw Engineering 9%
    Rittal 9%
4. Hammond 6%

Industrial Enclosure—Non-Metallic 
1. Hoffman 58%
2. Rittal 10%
  *Bud Industries 9%

Industrial Enclosure/Housing Purge System 
1. Pepperl+Fuchs/Bebco 44%
2. Hoffman  19%

Industrial Network Components (Wired)
1. Hirschmann 14%
    Rockwell Automation 14%
3. Phoenix Contact 10%
4. Cisco Systems 7%
    Siemens E&A 7%
    Turck 7%
Industrial Network Components (Wireless) 
1. Phoenix Contact 16%
2. Hirschmann 9%
3. Accutech 5%

Industrial Network Hubs/Routers/Switches
1. Cisco Systems 26%
2. Hirschmann 23%
3. Linksys 7%
  *N-Tron 6%
  *Phoenix Contact 5%
  *Siemens E&A 5%
Input/Output Systems 
1. Rockwell Automation 51%
2. Phoenix Contact 7%
  *Opto22 6%
  *Wago 6%
  *AutomationDirect 5%
  *Beckhoff Automation 5%
Intrinsic Safety System/Component
1. Pepperl+Fuchs 24%
  *Rockwell Automation 22%
3. Turck 14%
4. MTL 8%
    R.Stahl 8%

Linear Actuator/Slide/Guide
1. PHD 10%
  *Parker Hannifin 8%
  *THK 8%

Machine Vision System 
1. Cognex 47%
2. Banner Engineering 16%
3. Keyence 8%
4. National Instruments 5%

Measurement, Flow 
1. Emerson Process 30%
2. Endress+Hauser 9%
3. Sierra Instruments 6%
  *ifm efector 5%

Measurement, Level 
1. Emerson Process 14%
2. Endress+Hauser 11%
3. Honeywell 6%
    Magnetrol 6%
    Omega Engineering 6%
  *Danaher 5%
  *Schneider Electric 5%
  *Siemens E&A 5%

Measurement, Load Cell/Weighing System
1. Mettler-Toledo 19%
2. Omega Engineering 10%
  *Hardy 8%
4. Honeywell 5%

Measurement, Pressure
1. Emerson Process 29%
2. Endress+Hauser 8%
    Omega Engineering 8%
  *Invensys 6%
5. Honeywell 5%
    ifm efector 5%
    Schneider Electric 5%  


Measurement, Temperature
1. Emerson Process 22%
2. Omega Engineering 18%
3. Honeywell 8%
  *Pyromation 6%
5. Endress+Hauser 5%
    Watlow 5%

Measurement, Vibration
1. GE Energy--Bently Nevada 26%
2. Rockwell Automation 15%
3. Omega Engineering 6%

Motor, Industrial Electric
1. Baldor 48%
2. Regal Beloit 17%
3. Rockwell Automation 12%
4. General Electric 5%

Motor, Linear
1. Rockwell Automation 30%
2. Danaher 18%
3. Baldor 7%

Motor, Servo
1. Rockwell Automation 30%
2. Danaher 14%
3. Yaskawa 11%
4. Bosch Rexroth 8%
  *Parker Hannifin 6%

Motor, Stepper
1. Rockwell Automation 21%
2. Danaher 17%
3. Oriental Motor 14%
  *Parker 14%

Motor Starter  
1. Rockwell Automation 58%
2. Schneider Electric 15%
3. Siemens E&A 7%

Operator Interface Terminal
1. Rockwell Automation 39%
2. AutomationDirect 11%
3. EZAutomation 5%
    GE Fanuc 5%
    Maple Systems 5%
    Phoenix Contact 5%
    Red Lion Controls 5%
    Siemens E&A 5%

Panel Meter  
1. Red Lion Controls 26%
2. Simpson Electric 18%
3. Omega Engineering 5%
    Precision Digital 5%
    Rockwell Automation 5%  

Pneumatic System Controls/Components
1. SMC 27%
2. Numatics 16%
3. Festo 12%
  *Parker 12%
5. MAC Valves 5%

Power Supply 
1. Sola/Hevi-Duty 27%
2. Rockwell Automation 11%
3. IDEC 7%
    Phoenix Contact 7%
  *Acopian 6%
  *AutomationDirect 5%
  *Lambda 5%
  *Power-One 5%
  *Puls 5%

Presence Sensing 
1. Banner Engineering 23%
2. Turck 20%
3. ifm efector 12%
  *Rockwell Automation 11%
5. Schneider Electric 6%

Programmable Safety Controller
1. Rockwell Automation 40%
2. Pilz Automation Safety 18%
3. Siemens Automation 13%

1. Rockwell Automation 35%
2. Idec 22%
3. Omron 9%
4. Schneider Electric 6%
    Tyco/Potter&Brumfield 6%

Safety Network Components
1. Rockwell Automation 33%
2. Pilz Automation Safety 11%
    STI 11%
4. Banner Engineering 7%
    Siemens E&A 7%

Safety Relay  
1. Rockwell Automation 40%
2. Pilz Automation Safety 18%
3. STI 8%
  *Banner Engineering 7%
  *Schneider Electric 6%

Single-Board Computer 
1. Rockwell Automation 18%
  *Advantech 16%

Software, CNC  
1. GE Fanuc 18%
2. Rockwell Automation 10%
    Siemens E&A 10%
4. MasterCam 6%

Software, Data Acquisition
1. National Instruments 27%
2. Rockwell Automation 17%
3. Invensys 10%
    GE Fanuc 9%

Software, Electrical CAD (E-CAD)
1. Autodesk 70%
2. ECT Intl. 7%
  *Solidworks 5%

Software, HMI  
1. Rockwell Automation 28%
2. Invensys 18%
3. GE Fanuc 7%
  *AutomationDirect 6%
  *Parker 5%
  *Siemens 5%

Software, Motion Control
1. Rockwell Automation 50%
2. B&R Industrial Automation 5%
    Beckhoff 5%
    Bosch Rexroth 5%
    National Instruments 5%
    Schneider Electric 5%

Software, PC-Based Machine Control 
1. Rockwell Automation 29%
2. National Instruments 19%
3. Phoenix Contact 12%
4. Beckhoff 7%

Software, PLC Programming
1. Rockwell Automation 67%
2. AutomationDirect 12%
3. Schneider Electric 6%
  *Siemens E&A 5%

Stack Light Tower
1. Rockwell Automation 47%
2. Patlite 10%
  *Eaton Electrical 9%
  *Schneider Electric 8%
5. Federal Signal 5%

Terminal Blocks
1. Rockwell Automation 29%
2. Phoenix Contact  24%
3. Wago 12%
4. Weidmüller 8%
  *AutomationDirect 7%

Wire & Cabling  
1. Belden  48%
2. Lapp USA 8%
  *Alpha Wire 7%
4. Annixter 5%


2005 Readers' Choice Awards
2004 Readers' Choice Awards
2003 Readers' Choice Awards


 Readers' Chocie Awards 2006

The 2006 Readers’ Choice
Service and Support Leaders

The readers tell us these companies provide very good (4.0) to excellent (5.0) service in these categories. Only companies that received the minimum 5% vote share were considered.

Schneider Electric Programmable Logic Controller

AutomationDirect HMI Software
AutomationDirect PLC Programming Software
AutomationDirect Programmable Logic Controller
AutomationDirect Terminal Blocks
Banner Engineering Safety Relay
Emerson Process Level Measurement
Emerson Process Temperature Measurement
Endress+Hauser Flow Measurement
Endress+Hauser Pressure Measurement
Mettler Toledo Load Cell/Weighing System
National Instruments Data Recorder
National Instruments PC-Based Machine Control Software
Parker HMI Software
Rockwell Automation Presence Sensing
Rockwell Automation Programmable Safety Controller
Schneider Electric Motion Control Software
Turck Industrial Electrical Connectors/Cordsets
Turck Intrinsic Safety System/Component
Turck Presence Sensing
Yaskawa Industrial Electric Motor Drive

Acopian Power Supply
Baldor Industrial Electric Motor Drive
Banner Engineering Machine Vision System
Banner Engineering Safety Network Components
Beckhoff Motion Control Software
Beckhoff PC-Based Machine Control Software
BEI Encoder/Resolver
Bosch Rexroth  Motion Controller
Bosch Rexroth Servo Motor
Bud Industries Industrial Enclosure-Non-Metallic
Dell Industrial Computer
Emerson Process Pressure Measurement
Hoffmann Industrial Enclosure-Metallic
ifm efector Presence Sensing
Invensys Pressure Measurement
National Instruments Data Acquisition Software
National Instruments Motion Control Software
Numatics Pneumatic System Controls/Components
Opto22 Input/Output Systems
Phoenix Contact Industrial Electrical Connectors/Cordsets
Phoenix Contact Power Supply
Phoenix Contact Terminal Blocks
Puls Power Supply
R.Stahl Intrinsic Safety System/Component
Red Lion Controls Operator Interface Terminal
Rittal Industrial Enclosure-Non-Metallic
Rockwell Automation Data Acquisition Software
Rockwell Automation Data Acquistion System
Rockwell Automation Encoder/Resolver
Rockwell Automation HMI Software
Rockwell Automation Industrial Electric Motor
Rockwell Automation Industrial Network Components (Wired)
Rockwell Automation Input/Output Systems
Rockwell Automation Loop Controller
Rockwell Automation Operator Interface Terminal
Rockwell Automation PLC Programming Software
Rockwell Automation Programmable Logic Controller
Rockwell Automation Vibration Measurement
Rockwell Automation Terminal Blocks
Schneider Electric PLC Programming Software
Schneider Electric Safety Relay
Siemens E&A CNC Software
Siemens E&A Operator Interface Terminal
STI Safety Network Components
Turck Industrial Network Components (Wired)

AutomationDirect Operator Interface Terminal
B&R Industrial Automation Motion Control Software
Beckhoff – Industrial Computer
Belden Wire & Cabling
Bosch Rexroth Industrial Electric Motor Drive
Bosch Rexroth Motion Control Software
Emerson Process Flow Measurement
Enerpac Hydraulic System Controls/Components
EZAutomation Operator Interface Terminal
Festo Pneumatic System Controls/Components
Galil Motion Control Motion Controller
GE Fanuc CNC Software
Hirschmann Hubs, Routers, Switches
Hoffman Enclosure/Housing Purge System
Idec Power Supply
ifm efector Flow Measurement
Invensys Data Recorder
Krohne Flow Measurement
Magnetrol Level Measurement
National Instruments Machine Vision System
N-Tron Hubs, Routers, Switches
Omega Engineering Level Measurement
Omega Engineering Load Cell/Weighing System
Parker Hannifin Linear Actuator/Slide/Guide
Patlite Stack Light Tower
Pepperl+Fuchs Enclosure/Housing Purge System
Pepperl+Fuchs Intrinsic Safety System/Component
Phoenix Contact Industrial Network Components (Wired)
Precision Digital Panel Meter
Red Lion Controls Loop Controller
Rockwell Automation Alarm/Annuniciator
Rockwell Automation Industrial Electric Motor Drive
Rockwell Automation Motion Control Software
Rockwell Automation Motor Starter
Rockwell Automation Power Supply
Rockwell Automation Relay
Rockwell Automation Safety Relay
Schneider Electric Relay
Siemens E&A CNC Controller
Siemens E&A HMI Software
Siemens E&A Programmable Safety Controller
Simpson Electric Panel Meter
Wago Terminal Blocks
Weidmüller Terminal Blocks

Advantech Single-Board Computer
Alpha Wire Wire & Cabling
Baldor Industrial Electric Motor
Bosch Rexroth Ball Screw/Lead Screw
Cognex Machine Vision System
Danaher Stepper Motor
Eaton/Vickers Hydraulic System Controls/Components
Federal Signal Stack Light Tower
Hammond Industrial Enclosure-Metallic
Invensys Data Acquisition System
Lambda Power Supply
Lapp USA Wire & Cabling
National Instruments Data Acquisition System
Phoenix Contact Operator Interface Terminal
Pilz Automation Safety Safety Network Components
Power-One Power Supply
Rockwell Automation Industrial Computer
Rockwell Automation Motion Controller
Rockwell Automation PC-Based Machine Control Software
Rockwell Automation Servo Motor
Rockwell Automation Stack Light Tower
Schneider Electric Level Measurement
Siemens E&A Programmable Logic Controller
Sierra Instruments Flow Measurement
Sola/Hevi-Duty Power Supply
STI Safety Relay
Wago Input/Output Systems

Ametek Panalarm Alarm/Annuniciator
Astro-Med Data Recorder
AutomationDirect Input/Output Systems
B&R Industrial Automation Industrial Computer
Danaher Encoder/Resolver
Edwards Alarm/Annuniciator
Endress+Hauser Temperature Measurement
Hardy Load Cell/Weighing System
Heidenhain Encoder/Resolver
Honeywell Level Measurement
Honeywell Temperature Measurement
IDEC Relay
NSK Ball Screw/Lead Screw
Omron Loop Controller
Omron Relay
Oriental Motor Stepper Motor
PHD Linear Actuator/Slide/Guide
Pro-face/Xycom Industrial Computer
Pyromation Temperature Measurement
Regal Beloit Industrial Electric Motor
Rockwell Automation CNC Controller
Rockwell Automation Safety Network Components
Rockwell Automation Stepper Motor
Saginaw Engineering Industrial Enclosure-Metallic
Siemens E&A Loop Controller
SMC Pneumatic System Controls/Components
Watlow Temperature Measurement
Yaskawa Servo Motor

2005 Readers' Choice Awards
2004 Readers' Choice Awards
2003 Readers' Choice Awards