Cognex Corporation (Natick, MA, USA) announced it will buy Moritex Corporation (Yokohama, Japan) for 40 billion yen, or about $275 million, from Chinese private equity firm TruStar Capital. The cash transaction is expected to close by the end of 2023.
Cognex is a global manufacturer of machine vision systems and products, including sensors, bar code readers, software, and other tools. Moritex, also a global presence, produces machine vision products such as high-spec lenses and industrial lighting solutions; it also produces medical and cosmetic equipment.
According to Cognex, this is the largest acquisition the company has ever undertaken. The company has stated that it is seeking to increase its presence in Japan as well as offer a more comprehensive array of machine vision and vision system products to both existing and potential customers.
“Expanding into the optics components segment with this acquisition will increase our served market and deepen our penetration of the Japanese machine vision market,” Cognex President/CEO Robert Willet stated.
The impending deal does raise a few observations, note some industry insiders. For example, prior to this acquisition, Cognex tended to take an all-in-one In-Sight smart camera approach to its business model, which seems to dominate the U.S. market and simpler vision applications. Moritex, on the other hand, has been a purveyor of a large catalog of lenses and lights, which tend to dominate in other markets and in the machine builder and higher end vision system space.
“They both target very different submarkets,” Tom Brennan, president of Artemis Vision (Denver, CO, USA), observes. “Cognex is now going to get into building a lot of specialized hardware, alongside the all-in-one smart cameras.”
While there are likely strategic and logistical issues that will have to be resolved, this could enhance Cognex’s ability to offer and implement solutions all in-house.
“In my experience a lot of vision systems start as just a smart camera, but you really need a smart camera and a telecentric lens or a smart camera and an additional light,” Brennan says. “They evolve into something that best solves the problem. Previously for Cognex that meant bringing in another vendor, which introduces a different brand. Now with Moritex, it’s still an all-Cognex solution.”
The ability to control more elements in-house, such as lighting and optics, could also allow Cognex to reduce costs in their solutions offerings, particularly in a sector such as logistics, says David Dechow, owner of Machine Vision Source (Salisbury, NC, USA).
How it will ultimately play out remains to be seen, say industry insiders. Moritex, while known for quality products in the industry and expected to generate 6-8% in revenue for Cognex, is one of a number of companies in the Asian market competing in the optics and lighting space. With the Asian market posting strong numbers for some time and expectations of more of the same for the foreseeable future, it could be profitable to consider increasing presence in that market.