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Vision systems now ‘an integral part of quality control’

15 February, 2013

In the second analysis of the machine vision market to be published this month, Frost & Sullivan reports that the market was worth $4.5bn in 2012 and predicts that it will reach $6.75bn in 2016. In the earlier study, MarketsandMarkets estimated that revenues would be worth $5bn by 2018.

The new report says that machine vision technologies, previously considered bulky, expensive and complex to interpret, have undergone continuous improvements in recent years to become an integral part of quality control for industrial or manufacturing production lines. Advances in sensors, signal processors, field-programmable gate arrays and computing have expanded the application scope for vision technology considerably.

“The simplicity and cost-effectiveness of current machine vision solutions have enabled it to penetrate a number of adjacent markets,” says Frost & Sullivan’s measurement and instrumentation programme manager, Vijay Mathew.

Some potential users are still unfamiliar with the technology, in non-traditional markets such as transportation, surveillance, biomedicine, security and agriculture, F&S points out. Nevertheless, adoption of this technology in these industries is rising.

The vision market has made significant progress since the downturn of 2009, when key end-user sectors, such as automotive and semiconductors, had to slash their maintenance and inspection budgets. Although sales have rebounded and steadied over the past couple of years, the intensifying sovereign debt crisis, along with austerity and cost-cutting measures are still holding it back. Although 2012 was relatively slow, the market is expected to stabilise in 2013 and beyond.

“The camera segment has the most potential,” says Mathew. “With technological innovations, the lines between vision sensors, smart cameras, and PC-based machine vision systems will blur. The integration of robotics in machine vision technology will continue to increase through partnerships, as well as mergers and acquisitions, giving the market significant scope for growth.”

The study covers vision systems, industrial cameras, frame grabbers, optics and illumination systems, and machine vision software.

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