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So, when we look at the list of companies that make up the Readers Choice Awards this year, two things strike us immediately. First, of course, is the number of companies that continue to make the list year after year. This is a testament to their willingness to put the customer first, and unfailingly provide the best quality of product and service, despite the corporate machinations they may be undergoing. The second is the likelihood that the choices are an excellent indication of the character of their installed base. In this type of survey, clearly, familiarity has an effect on ones response.
CONTROL asked its readers to name the vendors delivering the best technologies in 65 categories and rate their customer service. These are the people whose opinions really count: They have the first-hand experience with how these instruments function, and they carefully spend their companies' increasingly scarce funds for instrumentation and controls. Any supplier who finds its name on the following pages--even fourth or fifth in a hotly contested category--can rightfully be proud of the accolade that it implies. And, as we do every year, we "scrubbed" the list of names to whom we sent the ballots, to prevent the accidental stacking of responses. Each person surveyed was asked to "identify by name the best supplier, in your opinion, in each of the following technology categories."
Beyond that, each reader used his or her own experience, knowledge, and familiarity with the products and vendors, to rate them in each category. It's likely respondents weighed cost versus benefit, ease of use, performance, reliability, service life, even who and how big the supplier is to determine their choices.
Then there was the rating of customer service to consider. If an engineer, his company, or anyone he knows, has had an experience, good or bad, with a given vendor, that experience can matter a great deal. With more and more suppliers concentrating on providing value-added services and solutions to their customers CONTROL also asked respondents to rank that aspect of their chosen suppliers on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Vendors providing excellent service (4.0 or higher) are listed in the accompanying table
Once more, it isnt a surprise that Emerson continues to be rated among the best in nearly all their relevant product categories. Rockwell, Honeywell, and Invensys also fared well, as usual. But big doesn't always mean better. You dont necessarily have to be a big company to place well in one's core category. Magnetrol (level), FCI (flow meters and switches), Kistler-Morse and Rice Lake (weighing systems) and ExperTune (loop tuning software) instantly spring to mind here.
Changes wrought by Internet commerce are clearly shown in our survey, evidenced by the fact that Omega Engineering and AutomationDirect (catalog and direct Internet merchants) did quite well in several categories. In the "thermocouple" category, for example, Omega (at 18%) was in a statistical draw (3% or less difference) with Emerson/Rosemount (at 21%). Perhaps we should expect other not so bricks-and-mortar vendors to start appearing in future surveys.
As we venture forward into a hopefully brightening future, it is worth a great deal to pay homage to the vendors whose products, technologies, applications knowledge, and dedication to service make our jobs easier and, dare we say, more fun to do. And the winners are...
(*Differences of less than 3% are of marginal statistical significance.)
Analyzer, Ambient Gas Detector
1. MSA 28%
2. General Monitors 13%
3. Det-Tronics 9%
ControlGlobal.com is exclusively dedicated to the global process automation market. We report on developing industry trends, illustrate successful industry applications, and update the basic skills and knowledge base that provide the profession's foundation.