It's August and you may be feeling the lethargy of summer days, but it's time to get busy planning for October in Germany, where the 17th Annual VISION Show will take place in Stuttgart, from October 19 to 21. The Messe Stuttgart organizers are expecting about 200 exhibitors this year—up from 178 in 2003—occupying around 13,000 m2 of floor space. Three-fifths will be component manufacturers, while the rest will offer complete solutions for machine vision. Approximately 4800 visitors are expected to attend the show, which is one of the industry's top product showcases and networking events.
At a June press briefing in Stuttgart, the state of the machine-vision industry in Germany was described in robust terms by Volker Pape, who chairs the management board of the Machine Vision Group in the VDMA—The German Engineering Federation (Frankfurt, Germany; www.vdma.org). Based on a survey of 54 companies, Pape said the German market rose 15% in 2003 to †830 million, and he expects a 10% growth in 2004. More and more German companies are becoming global, or at least pan-European, players. Exports accounted for 38% of overall turnover in 2003, with customers equally distributed between North America and Asia. Interestingly, German machine-vision companies are purchasing more components from within their own border—up to 40% in 2003 from 28% in 2002. Imports from North America declined from 29% in 2002 to 19% in 2003.
According to Pape, the major application of machine vision in Germany continues to be quality assurance; however, production automation grew significantly, as did material flow control and machine control. Of note, nonindustrial applications are seeing very strong growth, particularly for safety, traffic control, and medicine, and constituted almost 30% of turnover for machine-vision products in 2003. The automobile industry and its suppliers continue to be the largest user sector, with 23% of the market in 2003. Transportation and traffic applications are now the second most frequent end use. And, although it constituted only 1% of the market, the wood-processing and furniture-making industry doubled in size from 2002.
The VISION Show itself will be growing in size when construction of its new venue is finished in 2007. Messe Stuttgart is building a 100,000-m2 trade-fair center adjacent to the airport. The organization now runs about 40 trade fairs and exhibitions each year, and this new, much larger facility should make it an even more competitive location in Germany, since it will have direct motorway, commuter rail, and national train links.
Beyond the lures of technology and business, Stuttgart is a great city to enjoy for its beauty, culture, and food. Personally, I like the Neue Staatsgalerie, which is a postmodern art museum on the Schlossgarten park. If you like non-machine-vision images that capture the real essence of things, there's an entrancing painting by
Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901-1966) of his wife, Annette, that I recommend.
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief