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German MV market to grow 5 per cent in 2012

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The German machine vision market remains strong with 5 per cent growth predicted for 2012, according to the Machine Vision Group of the VDMA. Sales are expected to reach €1.6 billion during this year. This comes after a 20 per cent increase in turnover in Germany in 2011.

Further evidence of a positive outlook within the industry is the expansion of Vision 2012, the annual trade fair for machine vision held in Stuttgart, this year from 6-8 November. The show, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, now covers more floor space at 21,000m2, with 360 exhibitors expected from 30 countries, up from last year, and 7,000 visitors thought to attend.

The industry figures from the VDMA were presented by Dr Olaf Munkelt, chairman of the executive board of the VDMA Machine Vision Group, at a press conference for Vision 2012.

According to the VDMA figures, industry growth in Europe in 2011 was weaker than in Asia and America. Excluding Germany, Europe witnessed only a 9 per cent rise in turnover, which, Dr Munkelt commented, was due to a reduced investment volume in Europe as a consequence of the Euro zone crisis.

Asia saw 28 per cent growth in 2011, catching up with Europe in terms of exports and will overtake European markets if the trend continues. The Americas, the third largest export region, registered 35 per cent increase in turnover.

In terms of technology, vision systems grew significantly faster (+30 per cent) in 2011 in Germany than compact systems (+17 per cent). Dr Munkelt also highlighted the success of the camera business in Germany, which accounts for 31 per cent of overall German vision industry sales. Its growth, he said, was due in part to standardisation, which facilitates the integration of cameras and which Germany plays a leading role.

The VDMA also conducted a brief survey from 2-5 July, which showed 46 per cent of the 72 contributing companies stating that incoming orders in the first half of 2012 were at 0 to +5 per cent compared to the first half of 2011. 56 per cent of the companies surveyed forecasted a 5-10 per cent increase in turnover in 2012.

At the press conference, Thomas Walter, director of the Industry and Technology Division at Messe Stuttgart, which organises Vision 2012, highlighted two key areas that will be at this year's show: the Integration Area, showcasing applications, and the Medical Discovery Tour. Currently, 30 exhibitors have registered for the Tour, which will showcase machine vision products specifically for the medical sector.

Other features of the show include the Vision Award, a prize for applied image processing that Imaging and Machine Vision Europe are proud once again to sponsor; the BMWi stand and the International Pavilion for first-time exhibitors and start-ups; the Industrial Vision Days, organised by the VDMA presenting the latest vision developments and applications; the Vision Academy for newcomers to machine vision; the special show on vision standards; and the career centre.

The press conference was held at the headquarters of Robomotion in Leinfelden, just outside Stuttgart. Robomotion provides robotic systems for packaging and, at the show in November, will showcase the results of a robotics platform the company has been developing alongside SmartRay, Sensopart, and Fraunhofer IPA. The AdaptSmart project aims to develop a platform for the use of 2D and 3D intelligent cameras in robotics and automation, with SmartRay providing the 3D sensors, Fraunhofer developing the algorithms, Sensopart the 2D cameras and Robomotion the robot connection. The platform is being designed to show the possibilities for robot guidance using machine vision technology.