By Joe Feeley, editor in chief
It seems like I just got done telling you about the 2006 Readers Choice Awards results, and here I am reporting the 2007 RCAs.
I wrote last year that I enjoy doing this article because I always learn something new, or the results raise some interesting questions each year.
There are a few new twists this year, even though the overall results arent strikingly different from most years. Rockwell Automation won in 22 product value categories, still a dominant presence across nearly every type of product. Seven other companies won in multiple categories, most of them familiar names from previous years results.
Voters gave fewer companies an increased number of service recognitions, while at the same time being reluctant to give really high service scores compared to 2006.
But, when you peel the onion a bit further, some things appear among the also-ran votes. There was a noticeable increase in voters naming companies that never received votes before. Most were non-North American companiesan increasing number being European and South American suppliers, and this time, a scattering of Chinese suppliers, many of whom Id never heard of.
None of them received anywhere near enough votes to crack into the listings, but I suspect those numbers will grow in future years voting. In the 2004-2006 raw data, there was barely a mention of Chinese companies.
Part of the explanation for this is the ever-increasing number of non-North American subscribers who receive our digital edition. Further, the number of non-North American visitors to ControlDesign.com is about to surpass those from the U.S. and Canada. So, weve seen a slow uptick in European companies in the Readers Choice results over the past several years. But now, we have more web site visitors from India than from Canada. We have more visitors from China than from any European country.
Machine Builder Nation is becoming Machine Builder Planet as the global markets influence where you sell to, build from, and buy from.
But is that all there is to this? Are those voters just naming their local suppliers, or do they believe (as our questions ask) that these suppliers provide the best technology value?
What about you North American builders? Did you contribute some of the off-shore supplier votes? Are you buyingor considering buying components from developing markets? Im pretty sure some of you are. Tell us why.
I hear murmurs about Chinese component makers from U.S. suppliers, but its hard to get them on the record about any type of competition.
Visit our web forum, Heard on Discrete, at ControlDesign.com/heardondiscrete and help us figure this out. Or, call our new automated voicemail box at 800/984-7644x459.