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Readers' Choice: Reliable, durable, low-maintenance products

March 4, 2005
Your peers offer some of the best information on how to best run your plant. Plant Services has asked your peers what are the best brands and products that you can rely on to give the best combination of performance, durability, low maintenance and reasonable cost. The result is our 2005 Readers' Choice Awards.

Ensuring reliability and maintaining industrial facilities takes many talents. Along with a real grip on the technologies and eccentricities of your plant and equipment, you must have a good understanding of manufacturing principles, finances, people and more.

One of the most important tools in your belt is your hard-won knowledge of what works. Through real-world experience, you’ve found products and brands you can rely on to give the best combination of performance, durability, low maintenance and reasonable cost.

 Winners by Category

But no single plant professional is an expert on every one of the myriad categories of equipment, software and services necessary to properly support today’s plant. Where do you turn when it’s time to identify a new source for one of the less familiar needs of your facility? Who do you want to consult -- your purchasing department? Your local reps? Magazine editors? The Web?

How about the technicians, supervisors, engineers and plant managers who read Plant Services magazine? That’s who we polled to determine our 2005 Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards (see sidebar located at the bottom of the page, “Have it well done”).

Determined solely by readers’ responses, the awards you’ll find on the following pages name the vendors that provide the highest value (as defined by lowest estimated life-cycle cost) in categories from alignment instrumentation to vibration analysis and aerial work platforms, to welding equipment.

If you’re not sure which belts take the least adjustment, whose paint is last to peel, what EAM/CMMS package is the best buy, or where to turn for value in any of our 63 categories, the 2005 Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards arm you with a quick reference to the preferences of your peers.
Good to the last bite
The fill-in-the-blank format of the Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards survey means every supplier has an equal chance -- the choices are not limited to a selection of entries determined by vendors, editors or other people who are not practicing maintenance professionals.

Every vendor named in the rankings has been designated as offering the best value by a significant number of respondents (3% or more). We do not ask who has the second- or third-best technology, so each company in the rankings is rated No. 1 by a significant following.

On the survey, we ask end users to vote only in those categories where they have personal experience. A vote for a specific company should mean the respondent has found its products to be better than other companies’ in that category.

Since more respondents have experience with companies that have higher market share, the results are inevitably biased toward the larger companies. Furthermore, there are certainly small companies that don't make the rankings no matter how excellent their value because they are relatively unknown. If you have a favorite smaller supplier, consider yourself fortunate and don't be concerned that they aren't in our Readers' Choice Awards.

We ask respondents to write in the name of the company with the best technology, but some write in the names or numbers of specific products or software packages. We do our best to recognize and translate these responses into company names.

In short, Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards is not a ranking of best/better/good, but of the best in order of popularity. We hope you'll use it as we do: a reference list of brands that readers like you say offer benchmark value – a veritable Who's Who of plant equipment, software and service providers.

Just desserts
We’ve done our best to get experienced plant professionals, people who have the necessary perspective and wisdom to judge, without prejudice or penalty, who makes the best stuff for maintenance, reliability and operations.

We express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the hardy respondents who took the time to share their valuable wisdom by selecting our winners.

And we congratulate each vendor mentioned in the following 63 categories on being recognized for delivering value in our Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards.

 Have it well done

In December 2004, we e-mailed survey invitations to 40,000 qualified Plant Services subscribers asking them to “identify those suppliers you recognize as offering the best value in their product category: the products that deliver the combination of functionality, durability and low maintenance that add up to the lowest estimated life-cycle cost.”

We asked them to name vendors only in categories where they have sufficient experience to feel qualified to respond. The challenge of our daunting, 63-category, unprompted, fill-in-the-blank electronic ballot was taken by enough respondents to determine statistically valid scores within 3% for the categories and rankings presented on the accompanying pages.

The results are uninfluenced by Plant Services editors, sales staff or advertisers. We prevented vendors from participating in the poll, and electronically secured the survey against both multiple responses from the original addressee and unauthorized votes from anyone not on the qualified subscriber e-mail list.

Thanks to the many readers who undertook the survey, the 2005 Plant Services Readers’ Choice Awards give deserved recognition to some of the best vendors in the MRO universe, and offer you a solid, valuable reference you can use to help you make critical buying decisions.

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