EMVA meeting emphasizes opportunities, market challenges

MAY 20, 2009—The European Machine Vision Association held its annual business conference in Dublin, to focus on how imaging and machine vision companies adapt to economic conditions.

MAY 20, 2009—The European Machine Vision Association (EMVA; Frankfurt, Germany) held its annual business conference, this year in Dublin, Ireland, May 14-16. The focus was on how imaging and machine vision companies can rapidly adapt to changing economic conditions.

Presentations ranged from machine-vision market forecasts to business opportunities for machine-vision companies in the fast-growing BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

A 2009 forecast from the German VDMA (Engineering Federation) Machine Vision Group
predicts a 30% decline for machine vision business in Germany, and a 22% decline in the rest of Europe.

This unwelcome news was not a surprise, especially to those involved in factory automation and in automotive manufacturing in particular.

Indeed, many representatives of the companies attending the meeting said they had already adjusted or incorporated such forecasts into their plans. While many are choosing to diversify into nontraditional machine-vision markets, others are increasing their focus on healthier traditional markets such as glass, food, solar, biomedical, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

Andreas Breyer, the new director of market research at the EMVA, said that in 2008 Europe constituted 72.7% of the machine vision turnover for European companies (down a bit from 2007), the Americas were 12.9%, and Asia was 13.6%.

From 2007 to 2008, sales of vision sensors rose 30% and software grew about 11%, while sales of frame grabbers declined 10%.

New board
Election of a new EMVA board of directors was held on the last day of the conference. The board members for the next three-year term are:
- Mats Gökstorp, SICK
- Gabriele Jansen, Jansen C.E.O.
- Cor Maas, LMI Technologies
- Ignazio Piacentini, ImagingLab
- Toni Ventura-Traveset, Datapixel

A new president of the EMVA will be selected in the coming months, with the current president, Gabriele Jansen, having completed a two-term limit.

Attendance was 130, down from 180 the previous year in Berlin. The 2010 annual meeting will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, at a date to be announced.

Of the many interesting presentations at the EMVA meeting Wim Veen, a professor at TU Delft University, sought to enlighten the generally senior representatives of the machine vision industry about the attitudes and behavior patterns of potential young employees.

Veen called them "homo zappiens" to emphasize their digital and even virtual reality bias, and he pointed to their nonlinear approach to thinking and working, their multitasking, and their preference for collaboration, as positive traits.

Such traits should prove valuable for companies in the machine-vision industry, which is constantly developing new technologies and creative applications. As Paul Whelan of Dublin City University highlighted in his presentation about machine vision in Ireland, the era of academic papers relating to machine vision peaked in the 1990s.

Since then, the focus has shifted to applications, representing a change from a theoretical computer-science-based industry to one based more on applications engineering.

-- Posted by Conard Holton, Vision Systems Design, www.vision-systems.com

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