By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief
Get to the top of your industry. If not the top, get above the clouds into some heady market-share air. That, perhaps overly simplified, is the goal of just about every company, and that includes automation suppliers. Our annual Readers' Choice Awards balloting is one place where companies get to be called "high fliers" by our audience, and that certainly has some reflection on their market standing. In this case, it's our automation users who arrange the list.
Our model for this award hasn't changed since we first presented Readers' Choice Awards results in 2001. During the summer, we sent questionnaires to 15,000 Control Design subscribers who tell us they specify, recommend or buy industrial automation and control products. Vendors are not eligible to vote, so we didn't knowingly let any supplier vote. If we did find a vendor in the mix, we deleted it. The voting is only for our machine-builder and system-integrator readers. As always, we provide an unaided ballot. We don't include a list of vendors or product brands to choose from. We list 50-odd hardware and software categories and ask participants to name the companies that provide them the best value for the products with which they have experience. We tallied nearly 275 ballots. Once they chose the best providers, they rate service and support they receive from them.
Increased Dismissal Rates, Fewer Newbies
In 51 product categories, 93 individual companies made the cut this year, mentioned a total of 247 times, compared with 107 companies and 258 mentions in 54 product categories last year. Six companies joined this elite list in 2009, either for the first time or after at least a one-year absence. Voters dismissed a record 22 companies that had been on the list in 2008.
Eleven companies, one less than in 2008, won in multiple categories. Perennial list-topper Rockwell Automation won or tied for first place in 19 hardware and software categories. Other multiple winners include Emerson with five category wins; Belden, Danaher Motion, General Electric and National Instruments won three times, while Cisco, Honeywell, Parker-Hannifin, Pepperl+Fuchs and Turck each won twice.
Many of these companies had clear wins in their categories. This year, 35 of the 51 (39 of 54 last year) categories had winners with margins of greater than 10 percentage points. Close races decided by a margin of five percentage points or less increased to 11, compared with eight in 2008. Seven of those tight races ended in statistical dead heats between two or more companies.
Service Scores Solid, but Stagnant
Of those 92 individual companies in the product category results, you awarded service and support scores of 4.0 or better (very good-to-excellent performance on a 1 = poor to 5 = excellent scale) to 58 of them. This is relatively unchanged from the 64% rate last year. But keep in mind that in 2007, 70% of the companies made this grade, and 80% made it in 2006.
Continuing last year's trend, more service recognition fell in the 4.0-to-4.1 score ranges. You assigned 59% of the service recognitions to the 4.0-to-4.1 ranges, compared with 56% last year, and 43% in 2007. Awards in the 4.3 or higher score ranges dropped to a total of 21, or 15% of the total service recognitions, compared with 29 (17%) in 2008, and 47 (nearly 30%) in 2007.
You awarded your highest service praise this year—at 4.5—to Endress+Hauser in the Flow Measurement category. Right behind at 4.4 was National Instruments for Data Acquisition Software and Data Acquisition Systems, and Rockwell Automation for Network Routers and Switches.
Every company making the service and support list should be pleased. Some achieved great service marks more than once. The table on p. 39 lists those companies that voters say have terrific service/support in specific product categories. Voters recognized Rockwell Automation service and support in 26 product categories, with Siemens E&A next at 14. AutomationDirect service and support was praised in eight product categories, with Emerson Process Management right behind at seven. Phoenix Contact received six service accolades, National Instruments earned five, while Endress+Hauser, Honeywell and Turck were recognized four times.
General Electric, Invensys, Omega Engineering and Schneider Electric received service plaudits in three categories, while ABB, Belden, Bosch Rexroth, Keyence, Pepperl+Fuchs, Red Lion Controls and Wago made the grade in two categories.
So, listed alphabetically, here are 2009's high fliers.
- Ball Screw/Lead Screw
- Controller, CNC
- Controller, Loop
- Controller, Motion
- Controller, PLC
- Industrial Computer
- Data Acquisition System
- Data Recorder
- Hydraulic Components
- Industrial Electrical Connectors/Cordsets
- Industrial Electric Motor Drive
- Industrial Enclosure
- 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
- Measurement, Pressure
- Measurement, Temperature
- Measurement, Vibration
- Motor, Industrial Electric
- 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
- The 2009 Readers' Choice Awards Service and Support Leaders