Machine-vision market stumbles

At the recent Automated Imaging Association (AIA; Ann Arbor, MI; www.machinevisiononline.org) 11th Annual Business Conference (Orlando, FL), Nello Zuech, president of Vision Systems International (Yardley, PA; vsii@aol.com), presented excerpts of the soon-to-be-published 2002 AIA North American Machine-Vision Market Survey and Forecast.

Mar 1st, 2003

At the recent Automated Imaging Association (AIA; Ann Arbor, MI; www.machinevisiononline.org) 11th Annual Business Conference (Orlando, FL), Nello Zuech, president of Vision Systems International (Yardley, PA; vsii@aol.com), presented excerpts of the soon-to-be-published 2002 AIA North American Machine-Vision Market Survey and Forecast. He reported that the 2002 North American machine-vision market revenues for OEM merchants were $1.24 billion, a decrease of 15.4% over 2001 totals. Units shipped in 2002 reached 34,677, a drop of 16.8% from 2001 figures. Including the revenues of value-added sales resulted in total 2002 market revenues of $1.55 billion, a drop of 11.4% over 2001 numbers.

According to Zuech, 69.1% of respondents (vs. 55.7% in 2001) replied that overall business conditions for the machine-vision industry during 2002 were fair to excellent and 30.9% of respondents (vs. 44.3% in 2001) declared that business conditions were poor. When respondents were asked about their 2002 sales, 34% (vs. 25.8% in 2001) stated that sales increased, 30.4% (vs. 26.5% in 2001) said sales remained the same, and 35.7% (vs. 47.7% in 2001) had declining sales.

The leading machine-vision markets for 2002 were semiconductors and electronics, which together accounted for 51.9% (vs. 55.6% in 2001) of revenues and 29.6% (vs. 38.3% in 2001) of units shipped. The top-ten machine-vision markets accounted for 68.7% (vs. 71.0% in 2001) of sales and included semiconductors, electronics, and pharmaceuticals.

Looking at machine-vision sales during 2002 compared to 2001, Zuech found declines of 38.5% in the first quarter, 22.2% in the second quarter, 16.0% in the third quarter, and 4.6% in the fourth quarter. The trend points to an eventual sales turnaround in 2003.

In a breakdown of 2002 revenues for major product categories, camera revenues totaled $67 million and lighting devices achieved $62 million. For all vision engine components, market revenues decreased 14.6%, and units shipped declined 12.5%.

Some of the market challenges facing manufacturers of machine-vision products, according to Zuech, include international presence and infrastructure, on-going research and development to stay competitive, adding value, and channel distribution, among others. When asked about the business climate for the machine-vision market in 2003, 71.3% of respondents said that conditions would improve, 26.7% commented that conditions would stay the same, and 2.0% declared that conditions would worsen. As to the geographic region with the most market potential, 53.2% of respondents pointed to North America and 37.1% looked to the Pacific Rim.

Market data can be gathered, structured, and thoroughly analyzed, but the keys to business success are to evaluate and assess customer requirements, meet their needs, and ensure their satisfaction.

George Kotelly,
Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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