It's human nature to go with whom you know, but if your project suddenly requires something new, or your vendor's service has changed for the worse and you're ready to consider an alternative, you need a short list. Automation World has shied away from the various “choice” awards programs since its founding in 2003. However, curiosity grew during 2010 from both the reader and supplier communities about which companies readers would choose to be on their “First Team” when choosing partners for automaton projects.
We cover both factory automation and process automation. Within those broad categories, we cover products ranging from control components to complete control and automation systems to manufacturing management software. Automation World readers come from the ranks of engineering, management, operations and information technology. Given this comprehensive coverage, the list of potential categories is quite large. The results are a compilation of companies whom readers chose to be on their “First Team—Automation.”
The Web-based survey was constructed that contained only categories so as to test something the market researchers call unaided recall—readers were not prompted with any pre-selected companies—and a request to vote was sent to our entire reader database several times. The downside of this totally open survey is that we had a number of people who still think there are companies named Allen-Bradley, Bailey and Modicon, for example. We linked those brands to the companies that own them now.
The other challenging thing—something I discovered when I made the transition from industry to publishing—centers on product category names. What we in publishing call certain technologies does not always coincide with names common in the field. With several hundred responses and nearly 50 categories, it was an interesting intellectual exercise to sort the responses. But my years in manufacturing made me a fanatic for accuracy. One other interesting item is that no suppliers tried to pad the voting—fewer than 0.5 percent of the total voters, to the best I could figure out, were from vendor companies.
Leadership in Automation
Vendors were allowed to participate in Automation World’s Leadership in Automation special advertising section, which is a compilation of formatted company profiles that can help you know more about companies you’re not familiar with. Those profiles appear in this issue and will remain online throughout 2013 to aid and inform you for next year’s survey. A company listed here as a 2012 First Team member may have a profile in that section, so you can learn more about them immediately.
Many listed on the First Team will not surprise you. They are major suppliers, and there is a reason that they are major. They have been around for some years and have built a loyal clientele. On the other hand, you will find some upstarts among the winners. There are companies that have changed their focus from components to solutions and have begun to promote themselves as full automation suppliers. See if any of these companies newer to the lists are ones you are doing business with today.
We had a satisfyingly large response to the request for input. Since there are so many categories, it did require a time commitment from those who responded. But watch for my emails coming later in 2013 so that you, too, can participate in next year’s survey. It will be interesting to see what companies rise to First Team status next year. And if there is a category or company you think was missed, let me know.
Automation World’s FIRST TEAM Leaders in Automation 2012
Advanced Process Control
Alarm Management Software
Asset Management / Optimization Software
Continuous Process Control
Data Acquisition Hardware
Energy Management Software
HMI iPad Apps
Industrial PC (IPC)
Loop Tuning Software
Machine Safety Controllers
Manufacturing Execution Software
Motion Control Drives
Motion Control Systems
Motors – AC
Motors – DC
Motors – Servos
Networking Components - Ethernet
Networking Components – Wired
Networking Components – Wireless
Power Conditioning and Protection
Pressure Sensors and Transmitters
Programmable Automation Controllers
Programmable Logic Controllers
Standard Control Products
Temperature Sensors and Transmitters
Variable Frequency Drives
Wireless Sensor Network Components