Thursday, October 18, 2012

Less of the doom and gloom

Headlines last month reported a slowdown in the North American machine vision business. (“Local, Global Machine Vision Markets Slow” ControlDesign, September 10th 2012.) This sounds grim, so let’s take a look at the report.

First, it’s just the rate of growth that’s slowing. Back in the heady, rebound days of 2011 growth was up at 10%; through to 2016 IMS Research are projecting 7 – 8%. That’s pretty darned good growth. Name me another industry that can look forward to that.

Second, and this is where it gets really interesting, the same article says the AIA reported machine vision sales dropped 2% in the first quarter of 2012, yet in the same breath said software sales were up 26%, lighting up 11%, frame grabbers up 7% and smart cameras up by 4%. That sounds like pretty robust business for the components folks, so who’s down?

It has to be the builders of inspection machines, doesn’t it? Fewer turnkey systems and more people doing it themselves. At least, that’s my interpretation. Do you have a different one?

And one last complaint, while I’m in a moaning mood: There’s been a tendency in recent years, started I believe by the Wall Street Journal, to follow every announcement of positive news with a “But” and this Control Design article is no different: “… vision revenues grew more than 10% … But…”

Am I the only one tired of the negative spinmeisters? The machine vision industry is looking pretty healthy. Let’s celebrate that.

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