Machine Vision China reveals emerging industry

MARCH 30--Although it was held in a Soviet-era hall, the China International Machine Vision Exhibition in Shanghai (March 22-24) displayed the potential of a 21st Century industry that is beginning rapid growth in support of a booming economy.

Mar 30th, 2006

MARCH 30--Although it was held in a Soviet-era hall, the China International Machine Vision Exhibition in Shanghai (March 22-24) displayed the potential of a 21st Century industry that is beginning rapid growth in support of a booming economy. For the numerous European, Japanese, and North American machine-vision vendors that had booths or representatives at the show, the message was that the still-small Chinese machine-vision market was accessible, modern, and open to business.

The show attracted more than 3000 attendees--overwhelmingly from inside China--and 70 exhibitors. A concurrent forum on machine-vision technology and products featured speakers from several Chinese companies and institutions and foreign vendors. Zhang Qiang, deputy general secretary of the Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society (Beijing, China;www.cmes.org.cn), the show organizer, welcomed the forum participants and stressed the importance of machine vision to China's growth.

Addressing the forum, Keith Reuben, president of DALSA Coreco (St.-Laurent, QC, Canada;www.dalsa-coreco.com), traced the development of DALSA as a company, described some of the steps needed to grow a machine-vision company, and stated that DALSA plans significant strategic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

Jeff Burnstein, executive director of the Automated Imaging Association (Ann Arbor, MI, USA;www.machinevisiononline.org) led a delegation of AIA member companies attending the show and told the forum that the AIA was "very serious about working with the Chinese machine-vision industry." The German VDMA and the European Machine Vision Association (both in Frankfurt, Germany; www.emva.org), and Messe Stuttgart (organizers of the VISION show in Stuttgart) had booths and a significant presence at the show.

Chinese exhibitors and attendees ranged from distributors of products from international vendors, to developers of original components and systems, to dedicated system integrators--and some were a combination of all three. Shanghai Kingtek (Shanghai, China;www.kingtek.net), for example, displayed a complete fastener-sorting machine that used four Impact cameras from PPT Vision (Eden Prairie, MN, USA; www.pptvision.com) and had sold 10 to Chinese end-users. Beijing JoinHope Image (Beijing, China; www.kjk.com.cn) exhibited a range of CCD and CMOS cameras, along with image-processing boards that included a new PCI Express-based model; a GigE camera will be release soon.

Super Image (Hangzhou, China;www.chaoyi-tech.com) showed a 2k x 2k camera for research and medical applications, and said a Camera Link version would be ready soon and available for export. The company also had a small, low-cost CMOS cameras aimed at food and tobacco, PCB, and label inspection. A CMOS sensor with frame grabber package is intended for use in laser cutting or textile inspection.

And Shanghai Ruishi Machine Vision Technology (Shanghai, China;www.machinevision.cn), a small company targeting high-end applications, showed its EagleEye series of smart cameras and industrial digital cameras equipped with CCDs and a 32-bit TI DSP-based board. General manager David Shi said his company has had considerable success selling its cameras for traffic surveillance and bridge structural monitoring applications. They have not aggressively developed smart cameras yet because the market is not yet sophisticated enough for customer programming, but other camera companies have used their hardware platforms to develop smart cameras. Linescan cameras for applications such as paper making will also be important for the future.

Ironically, the international vendors seemed the most confident in the success of this show as a first step for China's machine-vision industry. With little experience in the tradeshow model for what is globally a relatively small industry, the Chinese participants were more cautious but remained confident of future success.

Conard Holton
Editor in Chief
Vision Systems Design

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