Top 50 Automation Companies of 2011

The Economic Recovery Is Serene. Meet The 2011 Top 50 Leaders, Find Out How the Automation Market Stands And Learn Our Predictions of What's Coming Next

By Walt Boyes, David Clayton and Inderpreet Shoker

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Quoted in Steve Minter's article in IndustryWeek on Nov. 14, 2012, Schneider Electric's president of U. S. operations, Jeff Drees, sees a more positive view. Drees says that the rebound in U.S. manufacturing is real, not just wishful thinking. According to Minter, Drees believes that Schneider will outperform expected U.S. GDP growth of 2% in its hardware offerings and move into software and services.

Satoru Kurosu, executive vice president of Yokogawa Electric, appears to agree with Drees. In his keynote address to the 2012 Yokogawa USA user group meeting in October, Kurosu claimed, "The U.S. is our newest emerging growth market," and added that the reason was the offshore oil and natural gas markets.

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Although his company's feet are pumping furiously, Rockwell's Nosbusch declared himself bullish on the Rockwell Process Initiative (PlantPAx and allied products), and told analysts at Automation Fair that the Process Initiative would double its revenues by 2017.

The Service Economy

Every major automation vendor announced a new or an expanded service offering in the past year. They've all seen the handwriting on the wall: fewer employees, higher throughput, less well-trained operators and engineers, and they're all lining up to help their customers remain their customers by providing cradle-to-grave service packages for their systems and other products. The mantra seems to be as Emerson Process Management business leader Steve Sonnenberg said in his Emerson Exchange keynote, "We want to be your trusted partner."

Virtualization

The cloud is coming, the cloud is coming! At every user group this year, there was an offering of virtualization software and programs to help clients keep using obsolete software and operating systems. Virtualization also provides a handle on reducing downtime, high availability, automatic failover and other very critical features that automation users want and need.

The question is, will they permit their systems to be run inside the cloud, and not just in a virtual server? Some automation vendors say no. Others are working hard to convince their customers to virtualize as the first step toward cloud-hosted services. After all, how much safer is your data if you store it on the server rack in the dirty old closet behind the control room than if you stored it at Apple's $1-billion server farm in Maiden, N.C., where there are redundant power backup, redundant server backup, automatic failover and high-purity HVAC?

The Charts

The charts pretty much speak for themselves. In the top 10, Siemens, ABB and Emerson all held position
globally, while Schneider and Rockwell changed places. GE moved up significantly, while Mitsubishi and Danaher moved down. A significant move was that Endress+Hauser, which only manufactures field instruments and analyzers, moved into the 12th spot without owning a DCS or PLC, or even a valve manufacturing facility. Its partnership with Rockwell seems to be helping the company greatly.

Amid rumors, Invensys dropped to 16th from 14th, while the azbil group, formerly Yamatake, rose to 22nd from 25th. At the bottom of the Global Top 50, Badger Meter moved from 48th place to the Honorable Mention list.

In North America, the first three on the list are the same as last year, and then things start to move around. Siemens moved to 4th, Danaher moved from 4th to 7th, and Roper moved up two places. Companies move up and down a couple of places every year.

We want to remind our readers that this list is a work in progress every year. Every year, somebody points out a company we have missed, or a vendor suggests better numbers than we have been able to find. We regret any errors, and we very much welcome corrections and additions.

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