Advantech (Taipei City, Taiwan) has agreed to buy BitFlow, (Woburn, MA, USA), according to news releases from the two companies.
While the companies announced Monday that they have entered a definitive agreement for the transaction, no price has been announced as of yet.
Advantech, which has more than 80 offices worldwide, specializes in embedded vision, IoT, and industrial technologies with a focus on integration of AI into machine vision systems. BitFlow manufactures CoaXPress over Fiber (CoF) and Camera Link frame grabbers.
The decision is based on several factors, according to BitFlow CEO Avner Butnaru, who pointed to Advantech’s global presence in the machine vision industry worldwide and its manufacturing capability,
“BitFlow believes that by combining its advanced imaging technology and Advantech's R&D, sales, and manufacturing capabilities, BitFlow products will play a much greater role in the AI vision market,” Butnaru says.
Industry insiders seem to see the merger as mutually beneficial for the two companies, as well as for the machine vision industry in general.
“It seems like it will be good for the market,” says Tom Brennan, president of Artemis Vision (Denver, CO. USA). “It gives BitFlow better manufacturing scale, and it seems to indicate Advantech is interesting in serving this market more directly, which will help it grow.”
David Dechow, owner of Machine Vision Source (Salisbury, NC, USA) said he believes this deal should be good for both companies, as there seems to be good synergy between the firms and their products relative to the machine vision market.
“Advantech, of course, is a supplier of a variety of products including industrial, embedded, and special computing platforms and software for a wide variety of markets,” Dechow says. “They long have had a strong presence in industrial vision in that context. The BitFlow frame grabber products in Camera Link and CoaxPress clearly enhance the Advantech offering related to vision systems by offering image acquisition capabilities beyond GigEVision.”
In the past, Advantech mainly focused on providing industrial-grade cameras and frame grabber cards to meet the basic needs of production inspection, says Magic Pao, associate vice president of Advantech’s Industrial Cloud and Video Group. However, with the industry moving toward higher-end machine vision applications, the company has worked to develop solutions such as AI cameras, edge AI systems, AI servers and specialist application software (iApp). And, as trends in AI smart applications and regional manufacturing continue to grow, Advantech decided the time was right to acquire BitFlow, hoping to expand its array of advanced industrial computer vision products through BitFlow’s high speed image acquisition technology.
“As the industry moves towards high-end machine vision applications, such as for advanced semiconductor manufacturing and medical imaging, Advantech will need to supplement high-end image acquisition products to fulfill the demands for high-precision advanced vision inspection,” Pao says.
Once the sale is completed, research and development teams for BitFlow and Advantech's North American business development team will start collaborating to launch new 2D and 3D network devices for the industrial imaging market and AI vision sectors, according to the BitFlow press release. For example, BitFlow’s CoF frame grabbers will make it possible to link Advantech AI cameras and computer devices using low-cost fiber cables and connectors for transmission speeds up to 100 Gbps to meet the high bandwidth requirements for AI processing.
Details, such as whether BitFlow will continue to manufacture frame grabbers under the BitFlow name, have not yet been announced, as the transaction is still in its early stages, however, more details should be forthcoming as the deal progresses, says Donal Waide, Bitflow’s director of sales.