Machine vision distributor spotlight: Coast Automation

In this article, John DeWaal, President of Coast Automation, discusses such topics as embedded vision and the capabilities of embedded PCs and future industry technologies and developments.

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To provide our readers with much information on how to obtain the right technology for their application as possible, we are profiling major machine vision and image processing distributors from across the globe.

In this article, John DeWaal, President of Coast Automation, discusses such topics as embedded vision and the capabilities of embedded PCs and future industry technologies and developments.

Company name: Coast Automation
Name and title of person being interviewed:
John DeWaal, President
Hingham, MA, USA
Year and location founded:
2009 - Hingham
Regions served:
Global presence – but North America-based
Types of products carried:
Industrial and embedded PCs, complimentary products – UPS, industrial keyboards, Ethernet switches, software, and more.
Companies whose products you carry:
Neousys Technologies, Advantech, AAEON, Nematron, Contec

Coast Logo Xsmall

Whether or not company offers integration services:

Integration is a large part of the business. What we do is integrate the PCs with memory, storage, OS, third-party cards or create custom solutions based on customer need. We can help a customer create and deploy custom images. We also integrate boards and displays into custom products.

How have market changes and customer demands changed the way that you’ve approached business?

The market has changed from the $5K rack mount PC to the fanless embedded PCs that have even more capabilities than the rack mounts, thus driving the cost down. A lot of technologies that were added to computers previously, have moved into the embedded boxes. For instance, Graphic cards and network cards are now embedded into the PCs. The technology is getting smaller, and is opening up a lot more opportunities, as they are less expensive.

In what areas do you see the most growth?

Embedded vision and video surveillance. We’ve seen a lot of customer requests for these types of applications. We also do a lot of work in medical devices with embedded boards.

What is your take on the current state of the machine vision market?

I think the vision market is very strong. The technology is continuing to evolve. Embedded vision is opening up more technology for the market. Example: We recently had a customer that wanted to use a 10GigE camera, and was asking if we had a PC that would support this.

Is there a particular trend or product in the next few years that you see as “the next big thing?”

Smart cameras are becoming more and more popular.

I was pitching the PCs as being the "smarts" in vision, but a man at a tradeshow recently pulled out a smart camera that would have fit into his pocket that could perform a lot of the same applications. The PC then can be used for collecting data and images and storing them, to perform video analytics to be sent to a server for archiving.

10GigE and Skylake processors (Intel) because of the speed and capabilities. People are trying to use faster rates and higher frame rates for their applications.

What camera type do you think will be most popular in two years and why?

GigE and USB 3.0, for the most part. Because these are standard technologies that users are already familiar with and require little support.

Have there been any recent examples of vision systems you’ve seen that are particularly unique or interesting?

There was a recent vision inspection system involved in consumer goods that was really high-speed that was particularly interesting. Used GigE cameras and link aggregation (teaming) to take two lines of data back to a PC and converge the data into one stream at the PC.

Can you provide one example of a relatively new technology that you are utilizing?

The trend is that people are moving away from hard drives to solid state products, because capacity has gone up and price has gone down. Also, there have been a lot of low-end PC products that have come out that are really good (Bay Trail, Quad Core), which is a bit new for the industry. Because of the quality of the processor and the low price, customers are finding places to put them that they might not have before.

View more information on Coast Automation.

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