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Report suggests vision markets on road to recovery

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The worst of the recession is over for machine vision, according to the latest report on the industry published by IMS Research. 'The market appears to be recovering faster than previously forecast,' said John Morse, author of the report. 'If this trend continues, the market will be back to its 2008 levels by 2011', an outcome that, 6 months ago, Morse predicted wouldn't be until the middle of 2012.

Speaking to Imaging and Machine Vision Europe, Morse added that the contributors to IMS Research's machine vision market tracker also reported, on average, faster recovery of their businesses than was previously expected.

The report estimated that the world market enjoyed revenues of nearly $2.5 billion in 2008 but this was slashed by over 25 per cent in 2009, equating to around $0.5 billion of hardware sales being lost. 'Machine vision suffered more from the down-turn in industrial production than industrial automation in general,' commented Morse. 'There were a few companies interviewed for the report that saw growth in 2009; but the ones that suffered the most were suppliers to manufacturing, particularly to the automotive and machine tool sectors.'

IMS Research's machine vision market tracker showed that the market was at its lowest in Q1 2009 but revenues have grown each subsequent quarter.

Anything related to process and infrastructure has suffered a lot less than the automotive industry, Morse commented, adding that even though the recovery is less pronounced for the automotive industry, it still appears to be growing faster than originally predicted.

In terms of geographical regions, the tracker showed that the North America market grew the most between the third and fourth quarter of 2009, but there was good growth also from both EMEA and Asia Pacific.

'Most of the industry appears to have survived and many suppliers have seen orders pick up in January 2010,' continued Morse. 'Many are optimistic that growth will be sustained; however, it is most likely that recovery will be steady rather than meteoric. The time when revenues return their 2008 levels is very dependent on the industries served. The very earliest is likely to be 2011, with some sectors unlikely to recover before the end of the report's forecast period in 2013.'