A Level Playing Field
Similar to the rich landscape of providers in the flow instrumentation field, the level measurement marketplace is home to a broad variety of technologies and suppliers. Here, Emerson Process Management once again assembles a critical mass of competence, faring well in most of the mainstream technologies, and winning outright in five out of 12 level instrumentation categories.
But level measurement excellence also belongs to a number of independent specialists. Notable among them in this year's Readers Choice Awards are Endress+Hauser, which took top honors in Ultrasonic gauges as well as Switches based on Electrical Property and Vibration principles. Other winners of note include K-TEK for Magnetostrictive and Laser-based level instrumentation and Ohmart/VEGA for Nuclear. Magnetrol's Magnetic Level Indicators also were judged best in class.
Poise Under Pressure (and Temperature, too)
Back to the days of the original Rosemount 1151, the pressure transmitter is in many ways the foundation from which Emerson Process Management built or assembled market leadership position in a broad range of field instrument technologies. Temperature sensors and transmitters are no exception, and only the arena of Infrared Sensors has remained beyond its scope. Independent temperature sensor specialists Omega Engineering, Pyromation and Thermo Electric also made the honor roll.
In the infrared arena, Raytek (part of Fluke, which in turn is part of Danaher) takes the top spot in Infrared Sensors and multi-dimensional Infrared Imaging/Thermography.
The Laboratory Brought Online
Typically a step in complexity beyond the measurement of primary physical variables, such as temperature, pressure, flow or level, is the realm of process analysis.
Here, as in other field instrument categories, Emerson Process Management has established a leadership position in key analytical instrumentation technologies, including Concentration/Density measurement, pH/ORP/Conductivity analysis, Process Spectrometry, and Stack Gas/Emissions analysis. The other leading automation platform providers are well represented in process analysis, including Siemens (which carried the day in Process Chromatography), ABB, Invensys and Yokogawa. Other more specialized analytical players ranking well in this year's Readers Choice Awards include Ametek, Endress+Hauser and Thermo Scientific.
In the yet-more specialized category of Humidity and Moisture analysis, GE Sensing was voted number one by our readers on the strength of its Panametrics brand. Finally, another important technology category closely aligned with process analysis is for those devices used to detect toxic or combustible gas in ambient air. Here, MSA won top honors.
The Flow Measurement Honor Roll
Accurately measuring process flows is difficult—and perhaps that's why so many flow measurement companies have sprung up over the years, each exploiting a new physical phenomena to tame this historically problematic process measurement. Indeed, many novel flow measurement technologies have been co-opted (or their creators acquired) by the major instrumentation companies, although a few notable niche players remain independent.
Emerson Process Management strengthens its already dominant flow measurement position in our Readers' Choice Awards this year, complementing its win in Pressure Transmitters (used with orifice plates and other primary elements to measure flow) with top awards in the key categories of Coriolis, Magnetic, Positive Displacement, Open Channel, Turbine, Ultrasonic and Vortex flowmeter technology.
Process measurement specialists Endress+Hauser and Krohne also fare well across a broad range of flow measurement technologies, as do the other automation platform providers including Yokogawa, ABB, Siemens and Invensys (on the strength of its Foxboro brand). Niche specialist FCI (Fluid Components International) garners the top spot for both its Thermal Flowmeters and Flow Switches.
Of Valves and VSDs
The crucial last link in any automated process control loop is of course the final control element. Measurements can be taken and control decisions made—but all unravels if those decisions are not effectively and reliably translated into final action. Primary among the process industries means of affecting process control are the position of a valve or the direction and speed of an electric motor.
For the Control Valve itself, top spot in this year's Readers' Choice Awards goes to Emerson Process Management, primarily on the strength of its Fisher brand. Runners up Flowserve, Dresser Masoneilan, Samson Controls and Metso Automation were often mentioned as well. In the category of Pneumatic Actuator, Emerson also carries the day, but cedes Electric Actuator to Rotork Controls.
In the category of Variable-Speed Motor Drive, Rockwell Automation was ranked most highly in this year's Readers Choice Awards polling, with global players ABB, Siemens, Yaskawa, GE, Danfoss and Schneider rounding out the top spots.
Outstanding in Their Field
Last but certainly not least, this final group of Readers' Choice Awards includes a supporting cast of essential field instrumentation technologies that play a critical role in process automation but don't belong to another logical group discussed thus far.
First off, the words "Data Acquisition" may mean many things to many different people, but in this year's poll the DAQ System award once again goes to National Instruments. The Enclosure award goes to perennial favorite Hoffman Engineering, with preferred enclosure Purge System award to Pepperl+Fuchs by virtue of its Bebco acquisition. And the preferred choice of what to put inside those boxes? The nod for Remote Terminal Unit goes to Rockwell Automation.