European MV market up 16 per cent in 2011: market data presented at EMVA conference

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The European machine vision market grew by 16 per cent in 2011 with an estimated turnover of €2.3bn, according to the latest market study from the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA). Preliminary figures from the report were presented at the organisation’s annual business conference, this year held in Lisbon from 19-21 April.

Gabriele Jansen, who presented the market study data at the conference, ‘cautiously predicted’ 9 per cent growth in 2012. This is in line with 5 per cent growth in Germany for 2012 predicted by the VDMA.

Jansen also compared the European figures with those from the EMVA’s partner organisations in the US and Japan, with the AIA recording 5 per cent growth in 2011 for North America, and JIIA showing a 12 per cent decrease in turnover in Japan in 2011, due to the tsunami and other economic factors.

The data demonstrated that there’s a degree of optimism in the machine vision market, if only cautious optimism, against the wider backdrop of the Euro zone crisis. Portugal’s problems were highlighted in particular because of the location of the conference – Martin Wäny, CEO and founder of Awaiba, commented that the country’s austerity measures would create a difficult economic climate for vision companies, but that nevertheless there were opportunities for imaging technologies. David Marsh, co-chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum in the UK, commented in his presentation on the future of the Euro that the Euro ‘will not die’, as so much political capital has been put into it, but that countries might leave the single currency.

Brazil poses a much more attractive market for vision, according to J. Rizzo Hahn, CEO of Brazilian company Pollux Automation. Hahn said automation in general was growing in the country, ultimately due to the demand for higher quality goods, but also because of increased labour costs. Automotive is an emerging market – Brazil was the fourth largest car producer in the world in 2010 – as is pharmaceutical production, with sales of US$22bn in 2010 and forecasted to grow by 10 per cent a year. Pollux supplies smart cameras to both pharmaceutical and automotive markets.

Smart cameras are the preferred vision tool for automating production in Brazil, according to Hahn. He commented that Cognex has 70 per cent market share of machine vision in Brazil and that half of those Cognex cameras are sold by Pollux. However, Hahn added that Brazil still has high import duties and sales taxes for components, products and equipment.

Dr Jürgen Rothenbücher, partner at management consultancy firm AT Kearney, in his presentation on mergers and acquisitions felt that the machine vision industry was still largely in an unconsolidated state. He pointed out that recent acquisition deals in the industry might indicate a trend for increased consolidation.

Other speakers at the conference included Hervé Copin from Xenics on the potential for infrared imaging; Henning Staerk from Allied Vision Technologies on the dangers of price erosion in the camera market; and Professor Bernd Jähne, director at IWR University Heidelberg on the latest developments in the EMVA 1288 standard.

The EMVA Young Professionals Award was also presented for the first time at the conference. The winner was Florian Oefelein studying at the University of Darmstadt for a project he undertook in collaboration with Schott investigating a method for measuring defects in glass.

The new EMVA executive committee members were also announced. They are: Gabriele Jansen of Vision Ventures, Pierre-Alain Champert of Coherent, Ignazio Piacentini of ImagingLab, Toni Ventura of DataPixel, and Dirk Käseberg of Mettler Toledo Garvens.

During its General Assembly held before the conference, the EMVA members also voted in favour of a proposal to split from the VDMA and become a fully independent association in order to grow the organisation.