Market reports proclaim growth

Market reports from several respected firms agree that machine-vision and automation product sales in some global regions should increase markedly over the next few years.

Market reports from several respected firms agree that machine-vision and automation product sales in some global regions should increase markedly over the next few years. For example, a market study by the Automated Imaging Association (Ann Arbor, MI, USA; www.machinevisiononline.org) that estimates the North American vision market at $1.5 billion in 2002 (a decline of 15% from 2001) forecasts market growth of almost 12% a year for the next five years, as the machine-vision industry is expected to recover from the global economic downturn that has hurt market expenditures for more than two years. The study, researched and written by Nello Zuech, president of Vision Systems International (Yardley, PA, USA; vsii@aol.com), determined that the total world market in 2002 was $5.3 billion, a drop of about 4% from 2001 market figures. The Japanese market was pegged as the biggest in 2002 at $1.9 billion; the European market was about $1.3 billion.

According to a report from IMS Research (Wellingborough, UK; www.imsresearch.com), new product types are rapidly accounting for a greater share of market revenues in the European machine-vision industry. Although sales of traditional PC-based products have decreased over the past two years, sales of smart sensors, smart cameras, and compact vision systems have steadily increased. The report found that in 2002 the revenue share of these non-PC-based products was 26.1%, up from 22.1% in 2001. The report also estimates that the European machine-vision market will grow at an average rate of 11.6% each year to 2006. The highest levels of growth, approaching 20%, are predicted for the smart-sensor and smart-camera product groups; these groups are expected to double in value in a few years.

Report author, John Devlin, says, "The information and communication technologies market is gradually showing signs of recovery, which should boost demand for PC-based machine-vision products over the coming years. Although the newer product groups are growing at a faster rate, they are not replacing PC-based solutions. Instead their growth is primarily a result of suppliers targeting the end-user markets and opening up new applications. Some PC-based machine-vision suppliers have released new products aimed at these end-user sectors to complement their OEM businesses." Based on market share, as determined by IMS, European machine-vision revenues for 2002 placed cameras at 51.7%, frame grabbers at 22.2%, smart cameras at 12.9%, compact vision systems at 9.8%, and smart sensors at 3.4%.

In another report, from the ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, MA, USA; www.arcweb.com), the automation market for process industries in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region was found to exceed $17 billion in 2002. This market is expected to expand at a cumulative annual growth rate of 5.3%. ARC senior analyst Himanshu Shah says, "Market expansion during the next two years will be below the projected growth rate but will pick up during the subsequent period."

George Kotelly
Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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