By Joe Feeley, editor in chief
Numbers don’t lie. Well, at least not in this election. Here, a certain clarity emerges, and while companies that did well will celebrate, and those that didn’t might grumble, there’s not much to dispute.
Our readers voted and told us which companies they think are doing right by them in product value and service. So, here are the results of the balloting in the 7th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
Our model for this balloting hasn’t changed since we first presented these awards in 2001. During the summer, we sent questionnaires to about 15,000 Control Design subscribers, who tell us they have authority to specify, recommend, or purchase industrial automation and control products for industrial machines.
Vendors can’t vote, so we didn’t knowingly let any supplier get a ballot. If we did come across a vendor in the responses, we deleted it from the tally. This voting is entirely and only for our machine builder and system integrator readers.
As always, the ballot is what’s known as an unaided survey. We don’t include a list of vendors or product brands to choose from. We listed 50-odd hardware and software categories, and asked participants to name the companies that provide them the best value for the products with which they have experience. We received responses from 275 readers.
Once they chose 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 the category.
Change Is Good
In the 54 product categories for which we report results, the number of companies making the cut this year dropped a bit to 94, compared with 100 companies in the 2006 results. We also saw an increased level of turnover, with 17 companies joining the elite list for the first time, or returning after at least a year’s absence. Voters did not re-endorse 21 companies listed in 2006.
Many companies are clear winners in their category. This year 35 (versus 34 last year) of the 54 categories had winners with greater than 10 percentage points. Among that group, six companies received a majority vote in their categories, down from eight last year and nine in 2005.
Close races decided by a margin of five percentage points or less decreased to seven, compared with 12 in 2005. Four races ended in statistical dead heats between two or more companies, same as last year. But the overall trend was to closer races. The average margin of victory in 2006 was nearly 20 percentage points. This year it was just over 15 percentage points.
Eight companies, the same number as in 2006, won in multiple categories. Rockwell Automation won in 16 hardware and six software categories. Other multiple winners include Emerson Process Measurement with four category wins; Danaher Motion, General Electric/GE Fanuc, Honeywell, and National Instruments won three times, while Hoffman and Pepperl+Fuchs each won twice.
Service Findings Are Mixed
Of the 94 individual companies in the product category results, you awarded 65 of them with service and support scores of very good-to-excellent performance as measured on a scale of 1 to 5. That’s a less-generous result than 2006. In contrast to this 69% rate, last year you gave service kudos to 82% of the listed companies.
Highest service praise this year (4.5) was awarded to Phoenix Contact for connectors and cordsets, and Rockwell Automation rated 4.5 for both its motion controller and wired network components.
Any company 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. 53) lists companies that voters identified as providing service they rated as very good or better.
Voters awarded 29 companies (compared with 28 last year) a service score of 4.0 or better in more than one category. Rockwell Automation achieved this in some 29 product categories. AutomationDirect received 4.0 or better ratings in eight categories. Banner Engineering, General Electric, and Siemens each were honored six times, while Emerson, Natonal Instruments, Phoenix Contact, and Schneider Electric made the grade five times. Bosch Rexroth, Danaher, Eaton, Endress+Hauser, IDEC, ifm efector, Omron, Parker Hannifin, Pepperl+Fuchs, and Turck were named three times. ABB, Advantech, Baldor, Beckhoff, Cisco, Invensys, Omega Engineering, Red Lion, Wago, and Yaskawa each were recognized twice.
With product categories and ties listed alphabetically, here are this year’s celebrated firms As always, we welcome analysis and thoughts about the outcome.
- Ball Screw/Lead Screw
- Controller, CNC
- Controller, Loop
- Controller, Motion
- Controller, PLC
- Data Acquisition System
- Data Recorder
- Hydraulic Components
- Industrial Computer
- Industrial Electrical/Connectors/Cordsets
- Industrial Electric Motor Drive
- Industrial Enclosure-Metallic
- Industrial Enclosure-Non-Metallic
- Industrial Enclosure Purge System
- Industrial Network Components-Wired
- Industrial Network Components-Wireless
- Industrial Network Hubs/Routers/Switches
- Input/Output Systems
- Intrinsic Safety Components
- Linear Actuator/Slide/Guide
- Machine Vision System
- Measurement, Flow
- Measurement, Level
- Measurement, Load Cell/Weighing System
- Measurement, Pressure
- Measurement, Temperature
- Measurement, Vibration
- Motor, Industrial Electric
- Motor, Linear
- Motor, Servo
- Motor, Stepper
- Motor, Starter
- Operator Interface Terminal
- Panel Meter
- Pneumatic Components
- Power Supply
- Presence Sensing
- Programmable Safety Controller
- Safety Network Components
- Safety Relay
- Single-Board Computer
- Software, CNC
- Software, Data Acquisition
- Software, E-CAD
- Software, HMI
- Software, Motion Control
- Software, PC-Based Machine Control
- Software, PLC Programming
- Stack Light Tower
- Terminal Blocks
- Wire & Cabling