Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A decline in sales?

The AIA reports that machine vision sales fell 2% from the first quarter of 2011. I don’t know about you, but I find that surprising. My subjective indices of the vision industry suggested that everything was going well, so is there more to this decline than meets the eye?

Quoting directly from the press release, “sales of machine vision components gained two percent, led by strong growth in vision software (+26%), lighting products (+11%) and imaging boards (+7%). Smart camera sales rose four percent while optics sales were up one percent in the first quarter.” So if sales of all the bits and pieces that go in to vision systems were up, there must have been a big decline elsewhere.

The AIA says this decline was in “complete vision systems.” I’m not entirely sure what those are, though I suspect it must mean integrated systems and off-the-shelf packaged inspection systems. If that’s the case then, it would imply end users are doing more vision installation and integration. It might also mean that prices of such integrated systems are being cut to win business. Perhaps some of those fat margins that existed when business first came bouncing back have been eroded?

What fat margins?” I hear you asking. If so, use the Comment button to give me your take on the business climate.

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