Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Analyzing the global machine vision business

Looking for a place to invest? With banks paying next to nothing in interest, how about the machine vision industry? As reported on, “Vision 2012: Machine vision to enjoy sustainable growth” (October 7th, 2012,) our sector continues to show rosy prospects for the years ahead.
The Optics article summarizes a presentation given at Vision 2012 by Patrick Schwarzkopf of the VDMA. He reviewed the performance of the German MV industry over the last ten years, noting that it had “…achieved an average 8.5% CAGR over these years,” and that the German MV industry now has annual sales in the region of €1.5bn.
Considering that period includes the “great recession,” that’s a pretty impressive record.
Schwarzkopf went on to discuss the global market numbers for 2011, and this is where things get a little strange. He said, “Germany grew by 21% to almost €400m; the rest of Europe by 9% to just under €200m; Asia by 28% to around €150m, and the Americas by 35% to €110m.”
I have to assume he means the volume of business done in those markets by German MV companies. We know the US market is worth far more than €110m.
That niggle aside, it’s interesting to see what Schwarzkopf  anticipates for the years ahead. A few bullet points:
  • Growth in PC-based vision systems.
  • Standardization and greater ease of use will drive growth – it must be easier to develop and deploy systems.
  • Machine vision will be used to deal with more miniaturization – human eyes can’t see very small things. (Does he mean medical devices?)
  • Agriculture.
  • Robotics – a growing numbers of robots are now shipped with vision.
Here’s the bottom line: machine vision is still a growing industry, and one that ought to be of interest to investors. If you have money that’s looking for a home, vision is a good place, but how and where?
You’ll have to check back for my thoughts on that.

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