CIA Goes Undercover

Control Design Sends Its Undercover Agents to Uncover What's Behind Their I/O Systems Market Inteligence Report

By Katherine Bonfante, Managing Editor, Digital Media

It’s a bird. It’s a plane.

It’s Control Design’s undercover agents?

That’s right. The Control Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent out its best team of undercover agents to get right to the bottom of  I/O system use by our machine builder audience.

Our agents put together what we think is an informative and entertaining video, “Market Intelligence Report: I/O Systems,” which is the first of our 2008 intelligence reports. You can watch it by visiting

When it comes to machine builder technology information, Control Design has proved to be a leader, and who else would be better to get to the bottom of this?

In this video we cover topics such as I/O location, signal requirements, controller technology, connectivity and annual spending. The main question we want to answer is how machine builders are using I/O systems in today’s world.

The video opens with a client entering Control Intelligence Agency headquarters, where Agent M and Agent B are standing by to answer the client’s questions.

  • Are machine builders using remote or centralized I/O?
  • What kind of signals are system integrators using with their I/O modules—digital or analog?
  • How much money are users spending on I/O systems each year?
  • How are users connecting their I/O?

Our undercover agents travel great distances, investigating and learning how machine builders use I/O systems. In February 2008, we involved nearly 150 machine builders. The I/O system users we questioned represent every major market segment in Machine Builder Nation.

Agent M and Agent B learned that I/O systems are primarily centralized but some do have remote capabilities.

Ninety percent of respondents said their I/O systems are DIN-rail mounted in enclosures, and more than a third of those polled have digital signal requirements for their systems. However, half of the respondents have a mix of digital and analog requirements for their I/O systems.

Furthermore, 76 % of respondents said they use PLC controller technologies, and 83% reported that they are using hardwiring to connect their I/O systems.

Most importantly, 33% of I/O system users spend more than $100,000 on their I/O systems per year.

If you haven’t watched this video, stop by Control Design’s multimedia library and watch it now.

This is just a snippet of our findings, but by watching the “Market Intelligence Report: I/O Systems” video, you’ll learn the entire in-depth results our undercover field agents put together.



New White Papers

The Advantages of Small Form Factor HMI
This white paper discusses HMI trends, specifically the need for small form factor versions.

Electro-Hydraulic Motion Controllers Enable Breakthroughs in Machine Productivity and Reduce Lifecycle Costs
New electro-hydraulic control systems are available to empower new machines or give new life to old ones.

To download PDF papers, go to

Special to the Web

Automation Comes Clean
View a demonstration at Ellis’ headquarters in the Chicago suburbs and get a firsthand view of the controls and automation that Ellis uses in its machines at

Machine Builder Forum
React to, comment on or disagree with postings from all the Control Design editors at

USBC’s Robotic bowling ball thrower
Who is Harry? Read about and learn how the robotic bowling ball thrower works at

Free Subscriptions

Control Design Digital Edition

Access the entire print issue on-line and be notified each month via e-mail when your new issue is ready for you. Subscribe Today. E-Newsletters

Biweekly updates delivering feature articles, headlines with direct links to the top news stories that are critical to staying up to date on the industry — company news, product announcements, technical issues and more. Subscribe Today.