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Vision industry set to grow according to EMVA survey

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The machine vision industry will see an 11 per cent increase in turnover in 2010, according to predictions from the recently published European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) market survey.

This follows similar forecasts made by the Automated Imaging Association's latest market survey, which predicts vision sales will increase by 2.6-4.6 per cent in 2010, as well as a report from IMS Research, which suggests the vision market is recovering.

The current EMVA forecast for 2010 comes as good news after a difficult year in 2009. As a result of the financial and economic crisis, total turnover of machine vision technology in 2009 declined by 21 per cent. Exports to the Americas saw the sharpest decrease of over 24 per cent, with a drop of nearly 22 per cent in European sales. The turnover with Asian countries was somewhat more robust and declined by just under 19 per cent.

Data from over 190 companies in the European machine vision industry have been evaluated for the 2010 edition of the report. 'The main difference from other surveys in the field is that we do not only rely on desk research. Instead, data for our report has been primarily collected directly from the companies in a questionnaire-based survey, which is complemented by numerous interviews with experts across Europe,' commented Gabriele Jansen, member of the EMVA executive committee.

Sales to all dominant manufacturing industries for the machine vision industry declined double-digit in 2009. Turnover with the most important customer sector – the automotive industry – went down by 34.2 per cent. Other industries, however, showed only a smaller decrease in turnover and thus even managed to increase their share of total machine vision turnover.

'The only two sectors where we saw an absolute increase last year are sales to the semiconductor industry and the whole sector of non-manufacturing industries. The growth in the semiconductor industry was boosted by the photovoltaic industry. Non-manufacturing applications, in the areas of life sciences, security, medical engineering, entertainment, sports, and intelligent traffic systems, continue to gain in importance. Here we see a large potential for growth in new applications of machine vision technology,' said Cor Maas, EMVA vice president.

The decrease within the product types ranged between 12.7 per cent for vision accessories and 28.1 per cent for smart cameras. Sales of application-specific vision systems – which have the highest share of total turnover – decreased by 22.3 per cent, and turnover of cameras went down by 20.5 per cent.

'3D metrology is the big winner in applications in 2009. Its share of total turnover by applications rose by eight percentage points to 19 per cent last year,' Maas added. 'This is a development we expect to continue. 3D cameras and 3D applications will become more and more important.'

On the other hand, discrete inspection of piece parts is the application that saw the sharpest decrease. While it remains the most important application, its share of total turnover went down from 52 per cent in 2008 to 37 per cent in 2009.

Looking at the expectations for the current year, another positive indicator is world machinery sales, which after a sharp two-digit decline, worldwide turnover is currently forecast to grow by nine per cent in 2010. 'This points to a favourable business climate in the traditional industrial application areas of machine vision. The increasing use of machine vision technology in new application fields will further drive demand,' Maas said.

In addition to the European statistics, readers now find three country-specific reports covering machine vision in Germany, Italy and – for the first time – in the United Kingdom. Plus, the study shows current trends and developments and identifies growth opportunities for the machine vision industry.