2012 Readers' Choice Awards: Top Automation Suppliers and Companies

Machine Builders That Successfully Landed on the List Look for New Ways to Improve Their Performance to Satisfy Customer Needs

By Joe Feeley, Editor in Chief

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To say that technological achievement seems to constantly reach new heights is an appropriate description, considering what's been happening on Mars these days.

The complexity involved in the dozens of carefully synchronized and coordinated events that brought Curiosity to a safe Martian landing can't be over-appreciated.

Granted, the machine projects you undertake don't cost $2.6 billion and take years to complete, and don't have to be supported from 160 million miles away after delivery. However, most of those machines are growing more complex in their own rights, and without dependable technology from dependable automation suppliers, the performance of those machine designs could end up way off course. We think the automation vendors that made this year's Readers' Choice Awards lists must be those types of suppliers.

We've not changed the process for this event since we launched Readers' Choice Awards in 2001. We sent questionnaires to more than 10,000 subscribers who tell us they have buying influence or buying authority for industrial automation and control products. Automation suppliers are never eligible, so we didn't knowingly let any supplier vote. Voting is reserved for our machine-builder and system-integrator audience.

See Also: 2011 Readers' Choice Awards: Top Spots in the Automation Vendor Universe

We use an unaided ballot, which means we don't provide a list of vendors or product brands from which to choose. We list 50+ hardware and software categories and ask participants to name the companies that provide them the best technology value for products with which they have experience. This year we tallied 200+ eligible ballots. Once they choose the best providers, participants rate service and support they receive from them. Only companies that receive at least 5% of their category vote are listed.

This year, 90 individual companies made the listings in one or more of 54 product categories.

Eleven companies won in multiple product categories. Rockwell Automation won or tied for first place in 21 hardware and software categories. Emerson earned five category wins, while Phoenix Contact won in three categories. ABB, Advantech, Bosch Rexroth, National Instruments, Pepperl+Fuchs, Thomson, Turck and Yokogawa all won two categories.

The evaluation of your automation suppliers' overall service and support continues its trend of less-generous scoring. Of those 90 individual companies in the product category listings, you awarded service and support scores of 4.0 (very good) or better performance (on a scale of 1 = poor to 5 = excellent) to 48 of them, a 53% rate that compared with 73% in 2011.

The distribution of these service recognition scores dropped. In 2010, 20% of the listed service scores were at 4.3 and higher levels. Last year it dropped to 10%, and this year only 2% reached 4.3.

Awards in the 4.0 to 4.1 groupings grew to represent 85% of all the listed service scores, compared with 70% last year, and 50% in 2011.

National Intruments for DAQ Software, and Rockwell Automation for the Safety Relay category were the companies that received the 4.3 service mark this year.

Every company earning a spot on the service and support list should be very pleased. Some 17 of those 48 companies received multiple great service marks. Voters recognized Rockwell Automation service and support in 26 product categories, followed by Siemens Industry with 14 categories, and Emerson with nine. ABB and AutomationDirect made the service rankings in six categories, while Phoenix Contact received five service accolades. Banner Engineering, Endress+Hauser, National Instruments, Pilz Automation Safety and Schneider Electric each received three product category nods; and Beckhoff Automation, Bosch Rexroth, Hoffman, Kollmorgen, Omega Engineering and Turck all made it twice. See the table on p42 for details.

With product categories listed alphabetically, here are 2012's galaxy-class companies.
(Access it in PDF format)


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