Seeing What's Going on Here
Operators have to be able to see what is going on in their processes, and they need highly effective and highly reliable ways to do that. The companies on this list (Table 4) are highly competent at hardware design and manufacturing, and many of them have been doing what they are being recognized for a very long time. Emerson, GE, Honeywell, Yokogawa, Invensys Operations Management and Rockwell Automation each have over 100 years' experience in effectively communicating process conditions to operators.
Connecting the Dots
We shouldn't forget that for the devices and software to be useful, somebody has to provide the information infrastructure. In Table 5, you'll see the essential infrastructure players. There's not much difference from last year in the basic categories here, except in the Wireless Infrastructure category where the responses mirror the survey done in our August 2011 issue: Emerson Process Management, Phoenix Contact, and Siemens Industry are all purveyors of devices that use the IEC62591-WirelessHART standard. Cisco, of course, owns the 802.11 space for networking. The only ISA100.11a supplier that made the list is Honeywell Process Solutions.
Keeping the Process Flowing
Table 6 shows the recognized masters of the flowmeter. From Coriolis to Open Channel, these vendors have the expertise to ease the deceptively simple process of specifying, designing and operating a flow measurement system. The recurrence of company names like Brooks Instrument and Badger Meter that have long and storied pasts shows just how important longevity and applications expertise gained from that longevity actually are. Of course, Endress+Hauser and Emerson Process Management dominate this category, because they are the number one and number two, respectively, suppliers of field instrumentation. There are other smaller companies, though, who shine, like Hoffer Controls, Sierra Instruments and Magnetrol.
Leveling the Field
Level measurement continues to be one of the most difficult of the basic measurements necessary to operate process plants, even though it is certainly the oldest measurement of this type known to us—as we've noted before, the oldest existing level meter is the Nilometer in Egypt, which is well over 2000 years old, and may be far older as a technology. Table 7 shows that, although Emerson Process Management and Endress+Hauser again dominate the category, there are other, smaller companies who shine too. Companies like Krohne, Vega, Magnetrol and its subsidiary Orion Instruments, ISE Magtech, MTS, and others continue to make the list because their design, manufacturing and above all application expertise continue to demonstrate what we said last year was "sheer bloody competence." End-users respect competence more than anything, especially at 3 a.m. when there's been a failure.
The Heat is On, and the Pressure Too
As always, Emerson Process Management won every category in Table 8, except Infrared Temperature and Infrared Imaging, both of which were captured by Fluke Raytek/Ircon, a division of Danaher. Smaller companies made the list in their niches, like JMS Southeast, Pyromation, BBP Sensors, and Omega Engineering (which was recently sold to Spectris, the large U.K.-based instrumention supplier). Moore Industries, Micron and FLIR also made the list.
Process analyzers continue to proliferate throughout the process industries. Both online and at-line analyzers are being used much more often for quality and performance. In Table 9, we present the top honors for online process analyzers. ABB continued its streak, winning four of the seven categories in this group. Yokogawa also made a strong showing, as did Emerson Process Management. Smaller companies like Draeger Safety, K Patents and others continued to show that you don't have to be huge to be well-branded. You just have to both talk the talk, and walk the walk.
The Essential Elements
All the control systems in the world won't work if the final control elements aren't properly designed, installed and above all, working. Generally, this means a valve, drive and motor combination of some kind. Table 10 shows this year's results in these categories. As always, Emerson Process Management's Fisher Valve division took the control valve category, with mentions of Flowserve, GE Masoneilan and Metso Automation. The same companies took the pneumatic valve actuator category, too. In the electric actuator category, Rotork reprised its top ranking from last year, while Beck joined the list. Metso Automation, Emerson Industrial Automation and Flowserve won the on/off valve category.
In electric motor drives, Rockwell Automation took the category, followed by ABB, Siemens Industry, Schneider Electric, Toshiba and Baldor Electric (a division of ABB). Baldor also took the electric motor category, which certainly reflects the North American bias of these awards. Second was Siemens Industry, which after over 100 years of manufacturing motors, has finally decided to trade name the product: Simotics.
Outstanding in the Field
In Table 11, we list the other indispensable systems and devices that process automation technologists need and use—but don't fit in any other logical group we've discussed so far. These include "data acquisition," without which no control system works, but which appears to mean different things to different users. There are enclosures, fittings, calibrators, Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) for SCADA systems, purge systems, vibration instrumentation, and last but certainly not least, weighing systems and load cells. This year, Rockwell, as usual, took data acquisition and remote terminal units. Hoke joined the instrument fittings category, while SKF and Shinkawa joined the vibration instrumentation group. Pepperl+Fuchs/Bebco was all alone this year in the purge system category.
We want to offer our congratulations to everyone who made the list, whether they were listed first or not. We believe that this Award listing accurately reflects the brand preferences of end-users in the process industries, and every company that is listed here is a real winner.