Vision market growth flat for 2013, according to industry bodies at Vision show

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Growth in machine vision sales has flattened out in 2012 and will remain at a similar level, with little to moderate growth predicted for 2013. That’s the general consensus from this year’s Vision show, which took place in Stuttgart from 6-8 November.

The VDMA Machine Vision Group expects the machine vision industry in Germany to retain its 2011 sales of €1.5bn and forecasts growth of 2 per cent for 2013, while the AIA expects the North American market to shrink by 2.4 per cent this year, with a return to growth of 2.6 per cent in 2013. The stable turnover this year is largely due to exceptionally high growth in 2011, which occurred while the industry was still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008/2009.

Slightly more encouraging were the results from a quick survey conducted by the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) in October, in which 53.3 per cent of participating companies expect total European machine vision sales to increase next year. A third of companies (34.7 per cent) expect 2013 to have no growth, while 12 per cent thought turnover will decline next year.

According to the VDMA, the German market is seeing domestic demand weaken slightly, but demand strengthen for exports abroad. In a statement, Dr Olaf Munkelt, chairman of the VDMA Machine Vision Group, said there was a huge demand for automation solutions in Asia and North America. He also drew attention to forecasts made by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) that predicts a 40 per cent increase in the global stock of industrial robots from 2011 to 2015, which, he said, provides opportunities for vision used in robot guidance.

In the US, manufacturing growth has flattened out, according to Paul Kellet, director of market analysis at the AIA. He said there will probably be less growth in industrial manufacturing in 2013 than 2012. However, he pointed to housing construction and aerospace as two ‘bright spots’ in US manufacturing, along with the semiconductor market, which, while relatively weak in 2012, is expected to see improved growth next year.

More than 7,000 visitors attended the 25th Vision in Stuttgart, a similar turnout to last year’s show; a total of 372 exhibitors were present, a new record (351 in 2011). The show saw the return of the Medical Discovery Tour, with those exhibitors taking part showcasing any medical related technology. The Industrial Vision Days, the accompanying conference programme, was also run, with around 40 talks describing the latest developments for a wide range of machine vision applications and technologies. The VDMA’s panel discussion on its Bluecompetence initiative, which champions sustainability through mechanical engineering, was a highlight of the talks.

A new section of the trade fair was the VDMA Technology Days, with 11 research institutions from several countries presenting research projects. Thomas Walter, head of the industry and technology competence team at Messe Stuttgart, commented on the programme: ‘The innovations demonstrated in this event will lead to enormous improvements in production in many different industries or ensure far more comfort for people in their everyday lives, for example in the automotive sector.’

New Imaging Technologies (NIT) won the Vision Award for its Magic 3D WDR stereoscopic camera. There was a special show on international machine vision standards held by the AIA, EMVA and JIIA, the organisations also announcing a joint initiative called the Future Standards Forum. A plug-fest for USB3 Vision, which was the talk of the show last year, was also held after the show on 9 November. The standard is due to be released before the end of the year.

Next year’s Vision show will take place at the slightly earlier date of 24-26 September 2013.