System Integrator Giants of 2013

The 100 largest system integrators in the industrial automation business—who they are and what they do.

06/13/2013


Applications with tanks require system integration to monitor product flow in; the process (if any) inside; and the movement of product from the tanks. Integrated systems or processes help monitor information of products (like beer) from raw ingredients tIn its second year of production, the 2013 System Integrator Giants (SI Giants) program has assembled the 100 largest system integrators based on system integration revenue for the most recently completed fiscal year. Compared to 2012 SI Giants, the 2013 metrics have significantly increased in response to the number of participating firms, making the group even more “giant” in many ways.

For 2013, all 2,387 system integrators listed in the Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide (AIG) were asked to provide details about annual revenues, head count, client base, industries and areas served, technical skills, professional affiliations, and product experience. They also were asked about the educational opportunities available to employees and the biggest challenges they face as a company. Respondents reporting the largest system integration-related revenue are shown in the accompanying table.

In the early days of the computer industry, it was said that no one ever got fired for buying IBM, meaning that the largest vendor in the business was never a bad choice. Some would say the same is true in today’s industrial automation industry when it comes to system integrators. Bigger integrators with more personnel and a broader geographic presence are arguably more adept than smaller competitors at implementing large-scale automation systems spread over multiple locations.

In practice, the advantages of hiring a larger integrator versus a smaller one probably depend on the particulars of each project, so the question of whether or not bigger is always better can never be definitively answered. Even the question of which integrators are the largest in the automation industry was a topic of debate before the 2013 System Integrator Giants survey.

A robot is a moving, functional container of integrated systems with sensors, logic, and actuation, usually integrated with a larger production environment. This one was at ABB Robotics Technology Day 2013, in May. Courtesy: CFE Media, Mark T. Hoske

The biggest change from last year is the addition of M+W Automation—the No. 1 system integrator for 2013—moving last year’s leader, Wood Group Mustang, to No. 2. Everything about M+W Automation is, well, giant. Its 800 automation and control engineers outnumber the entire staff at 96 of the other SI Giants, and its $150 million integration-related revenue accounts for more than 12% of the $1.2 billion system integration revenue reported by all 100 SI Giants combined. M+W Automation’s parent company, M+W Group, is even larger, with 2,000 engineers, 7,500 employees overall, and $3.5 billion in overall corporate revenue, nearly equal to the $3.6 billion overall revenue reported by the other 99 SI Giants.

More firms with larger total revenue and larger system integration revenue replied to the SI Giants survey for 2013 than in 2012. Year-to-year total revenue increased 215% to $7.1 billion, and system integration revenue increased 41% to $1.2 billion. As a

The average size of the SI Giants also grew between 2012 and 2013, though mostly from the addition of several larger companies to the mix more than the growth of those returning this year. The average integration-related revenue figure rose from $876,000 to $1.2 million, the average engineering staff rose from 52 to 88 (with 50 automation engineers  on average versus 36 in 2012), and the average revenue per employee rose from $187,000 to $280,000. The median income for automation system integrators in general (as represented by the other 2,287 integrators listed in the AIG) remained in the $5 million to $10 million range. See the staffing information chart for employee counts in other categories, all of which are higher for 2013.

On the other hand, survey results do show some evidence of actual growth in the automation system integration industry, at least in the sense of larger companies forming from mergers and acquisitions. More integrators reported acquiring other companies (9%) than were acquired (4%), suggesting a net gain of capital and resources for the industry.

Engineers represent about 34% of staff totals for the 2013 SI Giants, down from about 38% in 2012. This year’s 100 list includes a higher proportion of larger firms. Courtesy: CFE MediaMore integrators reported acquiring other companies than were acquired, suggesting a net gain of capital and resources for the industry. Courtesy: CFE Media

See affiliations and industries for the 2013 SI Giants continued on page 2.


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