Top 50 Automation Companies of 2012

Major acquisitions and a real shift in focus for the automation industry going forward

By Walt Boyes

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Once again, Control and ARC Advisory Group present our Top 50 list of Automation Suppliers. We have not changed our rubric for several years now, so you can compare results year-on-year for the past few years. Our considerations are spelled out in the sidebar, "How We Do It."

Do you know who the Top 50 Automation Companies are? Find out.

The list is organized into two categories: Worldwide and North America. The Worldwide data includes the North America numbers. Some companies can be seen to have very large Worldwide presences, but very small North American footprints, and the opposite is, of course, true as well.

The Ups and Downs

As shown in the charts, there has been some movement in positions, but none in the rankings of the top three: Siemens, ABB and Emerson are tops worldwide; Emerson, Rockwell and ABB lead the pack in North America. Globally, Rockwell and Schneider traded places since last year, as did Honeywell and Danaher; and in North America, Schneider and Danaher traded slots while Cameron moved up from 10th to eighth.

At the end of the global list, there are several companies that moved to the Honorable Mention section from the main list. This is not because their sales have decreased, because most of them had sizeable increases. In fact, most of the change came with the addition of companies new to the Top 50 Worldwide list. Additions this year include Festo (21) and Harting (39), as well as the large conglomerate centered on Eaton's acquisition of Cooper (37). Magnetrol, after several years on the Honorable Mention list, makes the Top 50 for North America at number 50.

Also Read "Reader Feedback: Consider These for The Top 50 Automation Companies"

Changing Latitudes

There were many acquisitions in the past 12 months. Some of these are defining, like the acquisition of vMonitor by Rockwell. This puts Rockwell deeply in wellhead monitoring in the oil patch, and gives Rockwell a suite of essential sensors in both a proprietary wireless protocol and WirelessHART. Another defining acquisition was the purchase, just after the Schneider acquisition of Invensys was announced, by Invensys of Indusoft. This gives Invensys a slice of the controller market below the typical Wonderware HMI application set. The majors in the automation industry are filling out their portfolios with "sideways" acquisitions.

But it isn't just the majors. For example, Advantech, the powerhouse from Taiwan and Greater China that is 28th on the Worldwide list and 25th on the North America list, purchased GPEG, a British intelligent display manufacturer. This gives Advantech a smart display capability it didn't have for industrial automation, but also a strong foothold in the gaming industry. Product synergy can be wonderful.

Schneider and Invensys

In what could prove to be a resurgence in consolidation among the major automation vendors, Schneider Electric will be completing its acquisition of Invensys sometime early in the new year. The charts in this article do not reflect this acquisition, but simply adding the revenue of both companies together comes to more than $8 billion, worldwide, which may move the combined company up a slot or two in the rankings. This is the first acquisition of a major automation company by another major in quite some time.

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