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Germany reports record sales of machine vision systems

12 Sep 2016

Ahead of Vision 2016, German MV sector sees 9% uptick in worldwide business.

From Henry Tipping in Stuttgart

With the German machine vision industry having achieved record sales of €2 billion in 2015 – a rise of 9 percent compared to the previous year – the VDMA, Germany’s industrial association, has forecast a further rise of 8 percent to €2.2 billion in 2016.

Dr Horst Heinol-Heikknen, Member of the Board of VDMA Machine Vision, recently presented its latest forecast at a conference in Stuttgart and emphasized that “enabling machines and robots to practically ‘see’ is revolutionising automation around the globe”. The automotive sector has led the majority of this growth, but non-industrial applications included significant growth in intelligent traffic systems helping to enable smart connected cities.

Heinol-Heikknen attributed the strength of the market to advances in machine vision such as 3D imaging and machine learning and the increasing ease with which these features can be integrated within systems, commenting, “if machine vision becomes an organic component of a machine, then it becomes indispensable”.

Vision 2016

At the biennial Vision Show taking place in Stuttgart in November, companies such as Basler, Odos, Bosch and Matrix Vision be present products that move beyond traditional machine vision, presenting “intelligent” tools that will optimize production and industrial processes through 3D imaging capabilities. Intelligent tools refers to machine vision that is reactive within the industrial processes and as Heinol-Heikknen said, “not just checking for quality at the end, it will effectively eliminate faulty production”.

What drives these efficient processes are the optical components enabling the machines ability to see. ODOS Imaging will present their time-of-flight camera the StarForm, which uses near-IR pulsed laser illumination coupled with high resolution sensors to accurately capture 2D and 3D images of the targeted scene.

Big markets

As one of the largest trade fairs for machine vision, this year will host more than 400 exhibitors from 28 countries. Whilst North America remains the largest export market for machine vision, China now closely follows with high levels of industrial production and a growing need to control quality. The VDMA anticipates growth of 15 percent in Asia in 2016 and this year’s Vision Show will see more Chinese companies exhibiting than ever.

Thomas Walter, Divisional Head of Industry & Technology at Messe Stuttgart, emphasised that “the companies represented at Vision are offering technical solutions that can be applied far beyond the industrial sphere”. As the systems advance, so to do the users expectations of the machine vision industry – with more exhibitors than ever identifying applications outside of the Automotive sector at this year’s trade fair, such as the food and beverage sector, with 15 companies set to exhibit who provide machine vision solutions for recycling and waste management.

According to the VDMA figures, non-industrial applications are making significant contributions to the increase in sales in German-made machine vision, accounting for an average growth rate of 16 percent per year (2011-2015). Growing demand in transport, medical technology and logistics has overtaken growth rates in industrial manufacturing. It is in non-industrial application that the VDMA expects both greater innovation and growth in the future.

Show time

"At Vision 2016, the range of products and services on show is incomparable," commented the VDMA, "ranging from sensors to processors, from cables to cameras, from software to lighting systems. There are also complete machine vision systems and concrete applications for the diverse sectors – from machine construction to the automotive industry to medical technology, and much more besides."

VDMA’s Machine Vision group anticipates a record-breaking expo, this year. More than 400 exhibitors – with at least 200 from outside of Germany – are expected. As the conceptual partner of Vision, VDMA Machine Vision will be on-site, organising the three-day series of presentations, known as Industrial Vision Days – described as “an expert forum at which visitors from the industry can expect to see a wide range of technical and application-related machine vision themes”.

About the Author

Henry Tipping is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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