Best by Design — Gold — Mechanical

The TPM+ actuator family offers maximum power density in a compact footprint, with servomotors and gearheads merged seamlessly into a single versatile unit; lengths from 183 mm. Why use it: This power-dense actuator is 40% lighter and smaller than standard gearbox and motor combinations, with 90% higher torsional rigidity.

Innovator: Wittenstein Inc. • (888) 534-1222 • wittenstein-us.com

Best by Design — Silver — Mechanical

Industrial gear drives often suffer from leaky seals and weak housings. Not Falk V-Class gear drives: Gear teeth durability is boosted through peening, ductile iron housing acts like steel, and horizontally-split housing eases field service. Why use it: This reliable drive handles harsh settings, outputting 15 to 10,000 hp and up to 3,020,000 in.-lb.

Innovator: Rexnord Industries LLC • (866) 739-6673 • falkv-class.com

Best by Design — Bronze — Mechanical

Standalone planetary reducers in this gearbox feature a floating sun gear and ring gear around three planetary gears. When the sun is clamped to the motor shaft, it rattles if tolerances vary at all, indicating that the gearbox is out of tolerance. Why use it: This quiet gearbox features a standard configuration that allows mounting to any motor with a NEMA 23 or 34 input flange.

Innovator: Groschopp • (800) 829-4135 • groschopp.com

Best by Design — Gold — Electrical

The KEBA Active Contact Flange is a touch-sensitive component combining a sensor, pneumatics, and closed-loop control in one unit that positions end-of-arm tools to regulate the force they exert on objects — independent of robot moves. Why use it: The flange automatically compensates for positioning to maintain constant force on the work surface.

Innovator: KEBA Corp. US • (248) 526-0561 • keba.com

Best by Design — Silver — Electrical

Ultra miniaturization comes from this reflective encoder integrating three channels, plus LED light source and photodetecting, in a 3.95 × 3.40-mm footprint. The AEDR-850x features built-in interpolation for high-resolution measurement on closed-loop steppers and miniature motors. Why use it: The encoder's high resolution enables a tiny motor encoding system.

Innovator: Avago Technologies • (800) 235-0312 • avagotech.com

Best by Design — Bronze — Electrical

The EZ4AXIS four-axis driver plus controller with dual encoders measures just 2.25 × 2.25 in. It runs four stepmotors at 9 to 30 V, and regulates to any motor voltage via software, so a 3-V motor can be run with a 24-V supply. Why use it: The driver can operate with no PC connection and with any stepmotor measuring 3 in. (size 23) or smaller.

Innovator: AllMotion • (408) 460-1345 • allmotion.com

Meet the judges

Bill Allai

control principal engineer, National Instruments

Bill Allai is a motion control engineer and chairperson for the Motion Control Association. He has spent more than a decade in the motion control industry, developing motion controllers, servo and stepper drives, machine vision, and data acquisition products. Bill provides product strategy and technical guidance for the motion control activities within National Instruments — a provider of hardware and software products enabling engineers and scientists to design and deploy systems for test, control, and embedded design applications based on the LabVIEW graphical programming language.

John Brauer

Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Milwaukee School of Engineering

John Brauer earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin and was elected a Fellow of the IEEE for his work on finite element analysis of electromagnetic devices. He has been employed by both electric motor and software manufacturers, and authored the Wiley IEEE Press book, Magnetic Actuators and Sensors. Milwaukee School of Engineering is a non-profit university with about 2,500 students offering 18 bachelors and 10 masters degrees in the engineering, engineering technology, building and infrastructure engineering, computer, business, and nursing fields.

Joe T. Franklin, Jr.

President, American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA)

Joe Franklin joined AGMA in November 1991 as president. Prior, he worked with the Electronic Industries Association and the Association for Manufacturing Technology. Joe has served two terms on the Board of the American National Standards Institute and has been active in the National Association of Manufacturers' Council of Manufacturing Associations for two decades. AGMA is an international trade association representing companies that manufacture gears or gearing products, companies who use gears, and those who supply capital equipment, services, and supplies to the industry.

Gregory Lyon

Co-founder and Chief Engineer, Industrial Product Reports Inc. (IPR)

Gregory Lyon holds a BSME from Northeastern University, is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York, and is the inventor on 17 patents. His career consists of more than 30 years in engineering, including the past 11 as president of his own engineering and R&D company. Recognizing the high cost for each company to qualify new suppliers of industrial products, IPR conducts the supplier screening process once and shares the experience with many in the form of standard reports. This reduces cost and time for customers who would have undertaken this process themselves, and provides information that would be unavailable to those who would not.

John Mazurkiewicz

CEO, JMaz Enterprises LLC

John Mazurkiewicz has more than 30 years of experience in the electric motor and motion control industries. He has held global positions in applications, marketing, and product development. He played key roles at ElectroCraft, Pacific Scientific/Danaher, and Baldor Electric/ABB. John serves on several Technical Advisory Boards; previously he was a board member of the Automation Technology Council, Electric Automation, and Chairman of the Motion Control Association.

Jim Williams

Vice president of corporate purchasing and supplier relations, Motion Industries

A mechanical engineer by degree, Jim Williams spent his career as a technical specialist, field manager, and product manager prior to his current position. Jim has been with Motion Industries for 26 years. With 2010 sales exceeding $3.5 billion, Motion Industries is a leading industrial parts distributor of bearings, mechanical power transmission, electrical and industrial automation, hydraulic and industrial hose, hydraulic and pneumatic components, industrial products, and material handling.