North American vision market static in 2015 and contracts 15 per cent in Q4

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North American sales of machine vision components and systems remained static in 2015 after contracting 15 per cent in Q4, according to new statistics issued by AIA, the industry’s trade group.

Total machine vision sales grew less than one per cent, remaining at $2.3 billion, which was reached in 2014 after growing 15 per cent.

Vision components grew by four per cent to $316 million in 2015, with lighting up 16 per cent, imaging boards up 10 per cent, and software up four per cent.

The machine vision systems category was flat in 2015 at $2.0 billion. Within machine vision systems, sales of application specific machine vision (ASMV) systems increased one per cent to $1.7 billion, while smart cameras contracted by four per cent to $289 million.

The machine vision market in North America continued to see the effects of a cyclical slowdown in the fourth quarter of the year, which was driven by a decrease in sales of machine vision systems. More specifically, the systems category saw a 17 per cent decrease in sales from the fourth quarter of 2014, marking the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year contraction. When combined with the flat growth in machine vision components, total North American sales for machine vision decreased by 15 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

‘Fifty nine per cent of industry experts are expecting things to turn upward for machine vision component markets in the first six months of 2016; 39 per cent believe they will remain flat, and three per cent expect further declines,’ said Alex Shikany, AIA’s director of market analysis. ‘For machine vision systems, 56 per cent of survey respondents believe the category will remain flat, 32 per cent expect an increase, and 12 per cent expect a decline.’

Global vision equipment provider Cognex saw one per cent decrease in Q4 2015 on the same period in 2014, and nine per cent decrease from Q3 2015. According to the company, business trends slowed substantially in Q4 2015 as the industrial markets that Cognex serves deteriorated across most major geographic regions. In constant currency, revenue increased four per cent year-on-year and decreased nine per cent sequentially.

Cognex expects revenue for Q1 2016 to be between $91 million and $94 million. This range represents a decrease of between seven per cent and 10 per cent compared to Q1 2015, due mainly to weaker spending in the industrial markets.

Flir posted fourth quarter and full year constant currency revenue growth of three per cent and six per cent, respectively, while Ulis, a manufacturer of thermal image sensors for commercial and military applications, has recorded close to a 20 per cent increase in volume sales in 2015 compared to 2014.

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