Bull's Eye Marketing, Inc., Fond Du Lac, Wis., has completed an extensive survey of 342 top marketing, engineering and management executives in the machine control and factory automation arenas. A similar study was conducted in 1993. The 1997 survey found that over the next 10 years the "experts" believe industrial computers will be used more often and that open architecture will become more popular.

Asked if industrial computers would be the hardware core of most controls in 10 years, 82% of the 1997 survey respondents said "yes" compared to only 71% who thought so in the 1993 survey. The 1997 respondents overwhelmingly agreed that open architecture would succeed in the manufacturing environment.

The study also focused on the trends of eight areas that will affect machine control in factory automation over the next 10 years. Those areas included general automation, programming languages, open architecture, PC-based control, artificial intelligence, drives and motors, the Internet and World Wide Web, and I/O networks. From those categories, almost 5,000 cross-correlations were done to show how responses varied among different groups and to uncover hidden information. Comparisons were made between vendors and users, large and small companies, industry segments, management disciplines, types of products and years of experience.

The survey asked respondents to predict the market share of the main machine control markets in the year 2007, and, according to the predictions, industrial computers and motion controllers will gain market share. The chart compares the survey's predictions for the year 2007 compared to 1997 market shares.

A final report, about 400 pages in length, will be available in February 1998.