By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief
This being the 11th Readers' Choice Awards issue, I realized it's been a while since I looked back at some of the early-year voting to see how the results had changed and not changed during the period.
We began with 43 product categories in 2001, and over the years, depending on response, dropped a few but added more as technologies emerged and entered the product stream. The latest addition of machine-mount I/O and integrated software development platform brings the total to 53.
The major players continue to own most of the product categories—Rockwell Automation, for example, won 16 of 43 in 2001 and 21 of 53 this year—and clear-cut winners dominate the results. But the margins of those victories have dampened as we've seen a gradual strengthening of some of the habitual runner-ups, as well as more and a wider variety of companies reaching the listing threshold. In 2001, the results averaged 3.67 companies per category. This has grown to five per category.
A good example of this is the PLC programming software category. In 2001, Rockwell grabbed 66% of the vote, while three other companies shared 18% of the category total. This year, Rockwell received a still-substantial 46% share, but five other companies attracted 36% of the vote.
Similarly, in 2001, Hoffman got a whopping 76% of the enclosure vote; Rittal was second with 10%. This year, Hoffman wins comfortably with 46%, but Rittal, Hammond Manufacturing and Saginaw Engineering now earn a combined 38% share.
Many companies that finish in the low end of the vote totals turn over from year to year, but consistent with the increase in the overall number of companies that make the listing, I found that 30 companies that were listed in 2001 aren't in the 2011 results, and 49 companies that weren't listed in 2001 show up in the 2011 listings. This doesn't include a bunch of company names that appeared/disappeared from merger or acquisition.
A constant of these voters is a penchant to routinely award high service and support scores. Of the roughly 100 individual companies that make the listings every year, the voters award about 70% of them at least one noteworthy service and support score. That number was as high as 82% in 2006.
But the level of service superlative has drifted down over the years. In 2001, Yaskawa (for motion control software) and AutomationDirect (PLC programming software) received scores of 4.8 out of 5.0. Fourteen additional scores of 4.4–4.6 were awarded.
In 2006, one score of 4.5 was awarded, and this year, the highest score, given 17 times, was 4.3.
Enjoy reading the details of this year's winners, and shoot the QR code to see the full results from 2001 or any of the other 10 years.