A new survey from Bull's Eye Research Inc., Fond du Lac, Wis., Automation System Integrators — Perceptions, Preferences, Programs, points to growth opportunities in the years ahead. The study is based on an extensive survey of automation system integrator executives involved in factory automation, both discrete and process control. Results are compared to a similar study done in 2000 to show trends.

Respondents were asked to state the degree to which their decision-making influence (specification authority) will increase or decrease relative to the customer's influence over the next five to seven years in each of nine product categories.

For each category, the integrator was asked the percent of applications in which the customer specifies the vendor, the customer provides a list of approved vendors from which the integrator can choose, and the integrator has complete freedom. The new study also rates 20 vendor-sponsored partnership programs and includes integrator comments. Vendor preferences for all nine product categories were also requested; Rockwell/Allen-Bradley led in more than half of the categories.

The report evaluates trends in three major areas that affect machine and process control in factory automation over the past 10 years, including open architecture, PC-based control, and the Internet. Additional information was gathered on 19 work categories to determine which are the most profitable for integrators. Integrators were also asked to rate the effectiveness of a choice of 14 different ways that they promote their business. Word-of-mouth continues to rank as one of the most effective methods.

The 76-page report includes more than 44 color charts and graphs. For more information, call (920) 929-6544.