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Machine vision industry sector on growth path

  • By Neil Martin
  • News
machine vision

The machine vision industry is continuing to grow and prosper.

That is the confident view from the joint CEO Round Table of Messe Stuttgart and the VDMA Machine Vision Association which recently met at the Stuttgart television tower.

It was an event held just nine months before this year’s VISION opens its doors in Stuttgart from 6 to 8 November, and the preparations for the leading world trade fair for machine vision are well under way.

Team Director at Messe Stuttgart Florian Niethammer spoke at the event, saying “The prospects are highly promising. The industry is still on a growth path. In Germany alone, growth in the machine vision industry in 2017 provisionally amounted to 18 per cent. Throughout Europe turnover in the machine vision industry rose by between 12 and 14 per cent last year. All the forecasts point to another successful year in 2018.”

Over 450 exhibitors are again expected to take part in VISION 2018. More than 300 companies from all over the world have already registered for the trade fair. They include market leaders such as Basler, Cognex, ISRA Vision, MVTec, Teledyne DALSA, Sony and Stemmer Imaging.

The first-time exhibitors include, for example, Connect Tech (Canada), Micro-Epsilon Messtechnik (Germany), Genesi Elettronica (Italy) and Neadvance Machine Vision (Portugal). In addition to traditional industrial applications, non-industrial applications have also become much more important in the last few years. The exhibitors will present, for example, applications for the areas of traffic, food and beverage technology, and medical technology. Machine vision is also gaining ground in the agricultural sector, for example in sorting tasks during or after harvesting, in so-called precision farming or through greater use of drones.

Special synergy potential and mutual exchange opportunities will be created here this year due to Intervitis Interfructa Hortitechnica, the technology trade fair for wine, fruit juice and special crops, which will be held concurrently with VISION.

Niethammer added: “We have an exciting VISION year ahead of us, all the signs still point towards growth. The industry is also preoccupied with the megatrends of embedded vision and deep learning.”

With embedded vision, machine vision intelligence is migrating from external PCs into devices. The biggest drivers of embedded vision technology at present include autonomous driving, but also integrated face and object recognition in smart cameras or surveillance cameras. In machine vision it is therefore possible, for example, to integrate intelligent camera modules in machines or robots, thus making them an indispensable component in the implementation of the smart factory. Deep learning is a radically new approach for solving image recognition tasks in future. Unlike current processes, these self-learning systems are taught a large number of images and scenarios which they can access during testing in the production process and therefore recognise the smallest possible deviations. These systems are therefore being continuously optimised still further.

Niethammer: “Another topic is hyperspectral imaging. In addition to purely recording images, this technology can also generate spectral information from different wavelengths. This information is then used to make statements on the chemical properties of objects. Hyperspectral imaging has become financially affordable in the last few years and its operability has been made so easy that its results can be interpreted, for example, by colour marking of different materials even without special knowledge.”