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North American vision market static at $2.3bn in 2016

The North American machine vision market has, for the second year running, remained static at $2.3 billion in 2016, although has seen growth of half a per cent since 2015, according to new statistics issued by AIA.

Although the year ended well after the region showed a strong fourth quarter, this increase was not enough to counter an 11 per cent first quarter contraction, followed by an overall 3 per cent contraction over the first nine months of 2016.

The market reached $2.3 billion in 2014 after growing 15 per cent, but has since remained static, seeing a growth of less than one per cent in both 2015 and 2016. In contrast, the European machine vision market continues to thrive with continuous growths of 16, 10 and 10 per cent again in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.  

Total North American machine vision sales include those of both components and systems.

Sales of machine vision component grew one per cent to $320 million, with the leading growth categories being cameras at three per cent, lighting at one per cent, and software also at one per cent.

Machine vision systems sales remained flat at $2.0 billion in 2016. Within the category, sales of smart cameras increased 13 per cent to $326 million, while sales of application specific machine vision systems (ASMV) contracted by two per cent to $1.6 billion.

The North America market performed particularly well in the fourth quarter, driven largely by increasing sales in smart cameras, component cameras, and ASMV systems. More specifically, the smart camera market saw a 20 per cent Q4 year-over-year increase, marking its third consecutive quarter of year-over-year expansion. Similarly, component cameras and ASMV systems each grew by 17 per cent year-over-year in Q4.

‘Forty-seven per cent of industry experts are expecting the market to continue its growth in the first half of 2017, 43 per cent believe sales will remain flat, and 10 per cent per cent expect a contraction,’ said Alex Shikany, AIA’s director of market analysis. ‘Regarding the largest category, machine vision systems, 46 per cent of survey respondents believe the category will increase, 44 per cent expect stagnation, and 10 per cent expect a decline. Stronger optimism is present regarding vision component markets, where 57 per cent think sales will increase, 36 per cent are expecting sales to be flat, and only seven per cent expect declines.’

‘Vision and imaging technology is playing a key role in the next wave of industrial evolution,’ commented AIA president Jeff Burnstein. ‘In today’s world of connected manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things, and cloud-based computing, vision technology is providing critical data to these advanced automation systems and driving productivity up for manufacturers of all sizes across the globe.’

Despite the current static state of the market, Burnstein noted that the AIA and its parent group, the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), are seeing continuously increasing attendance to vision and other automation events like the upcoming Automate 2017 trade show. ‘With four weeks to go, the exhibit floor at Automate 2017 is over 40 per cent larger than our 2015 event,’ he said. ‘This growth is attributed to the fact that leading automation companies are reaching out to small and medium sized customers, many of whom are just now beginning to explore automation.’

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