STEMMER IMAGING has had a busy year, including its successful IPO, but the emphasis now switches to products and solutions as we near VISION 2018. Editor Neil Martin gets a chance to ask a few questions of Mark Williamson, Managing Director (UK) and Group Marketing Director
I start by asking Mark, what is their focus for the Stuttgart trade fair.
“Vision is probably the most important event for our industry in Europe. For STEMMER IMAGING it gives us the opportunity to arrange combined meetings with our suppliers and key customer together in one place. This is invaluable. Our message at the 2018 Vision show builds on our belief that by combining products, knowledge and services we can make advanced machine vision easy and accessible giving our customers a competitive advantage.”
Mark pointed out that STEMMER IMAGING has attended every VISION show since it began and his first show was in 2004, when it started to become more international. He believes it is THE place to see new technologies in Europe and possibly in the world.
As to what the group hopes to get from the show:
“Of course the focus is to find new customers that need our products and services along with in depth discussions with existing customers. However, while this is most important it is always good to see how our competitors are positioning their products and innovating and how new solutions and technologies are gaining traction in our industry. Being a technology provider it’s important we stay on top of technology developments and know when they reach the tipping point of actually being useful and reliable.”
Mark thinks that visitors will be attracted to the booth because their offering is unique, both in terms of market coverage across Europe, but also with the depth and range of products and solutions available from one source backed by over 300 people; 70% of whom are technically qualified. He adds that whilst they can’t have every product on show, their experts will be on hand to help guide visitors to the optimum approach.
So what will STEMMER IMAGING be showcasing during the show:
“Many of the demos are based on Common Vision Blox, a leading machine vision software ready for latest industry trends. Demonstrations will include industry proven machine learning tools for any market and application, various embedded vision solutions, 3D applications including Intel® Realsense™, latest developments in hyperspectral imaging as well as demos showing OPC-UA machine vision support for easy industry 4.0 integration. We will also debut for the first time in Europe a new Human assistance camera system aimed at combining manual assembly instructions and validation that all steps are completed.
“Many of our key suppliers are located adjacent to our booth in the same design ensuring our customers can easily access the latest developments from our partners as well.”
Mark then touches briefly on the main applications for their products and makes the point that because machine vision touches such a wide range of markets and applications, no one market is significantly dominant over others.
One of the larger areas is of course industrial automation and with the move to industry 4.0 just starting, vision technology is identified as a key enabler. Here Mark expects continued success in all areas of manufacturing, including automotive, food and beverage, packaging, pharmaceutical and electronics. What’s more, vision technology is also being adopted in non-manufacturing applications such as sports analysis, medical imaging, media, security and retail.
So what impact will it have on the market?
“We are seeing the introductions of vision products that start to touch the consumer price points such as the Intel® Realsense™ along with lower cost high volume embedded processor technologies driven by the mobile industry. I expect while the traditional machine vision markets will continue to thrive we will also see a new wave of higher volume lower cost applications based on these technologies. This will change the dynamics of the market in the coming years.”
STEMMER IMAGING can trace its origins back to the 1970s and it first became dedicated to machine vision starting in 1987 in Germany. It now has offices all over Europe and in February 2018, it floated on the Frankfurt stock market.
Back to Mark again:
“We are a well-funded stable company with a focus on giving our customers competitive advantage through leading products with knowledge and services all with an aim to be easy to deal with.
“As a public company, we can’t make bold claims. However, suffice it to say we are one of Europe’s largest providers of machine vision technology and services, with preliminary revenues last year in excess of 100 million euros delivered by just over 300 passionate staff. This strength has direct benefits for our customers. For example our European warehouse households over 8 million euros of stock which is available for next day delivery across Europe. We like to think that makes a difference.”
And for the future, Mark says:
“In the short term, there is still a lot of potential in what we do without drastic changes. I expect we will continue to expand in Europe, develop our own software capability in our software product Common Vision Blox and maybe look to expand further afield.”
Mark’s vision career began at Data Cell and in 1995 he became General Manager at Active Imaging, a subsidiary of Data Cell set up to design manufacture and market network video systems. In 1997 he set up his own company, Pinnacle Vision, offering machine vision components from some of the world’s leading suppliers. In 2001, Pinnacle Vision joined forces with David Hearn’s Vortex Vision to form Firstsight Vision, which then in 2004 became the first company to join the STEMMER IMAGING group.
Mark has been hugely influential in the machine vision industry as a whole. In addition to building highly successful companies, for 13 years he was chairman of the UK Industrial Vision Association. Currently he is chairman of the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association and also serves on the Board of VDMA Machine Vision.