Six and counting

This issue marks the sixth anniversary of Vision Systems Design.

This issue marks the sixth anniversary of Vision Systems Design. Its editorial content continues to be focused on the system-integration needs of our readers, who are interfacing components, boards, subsystems, software, and processors and configuring innovative and improved platforms that meet application requirements. To obtain "value-added" design and development information, our staff editors attend trade shows, seminars, and conferences, as well as visit, phone, and e-mail company executives, managers, and engineers. They also research the Web; technical publications, papers, and reports; and professional societies. To provide thorough coverage, though, we still need your help in keeping us informed on new products, technologies, applications, and methods.

This is an opportune time to examine the market condition of the vision industry. Over the past few years, states market-researcher ARC Advisory Group (Dedham, MA; www.arcweb.com) in its recent report General Purpose Machine Vision Systems, machine-vision-systems suppliers have struggled with the falling demands in manufacturing as the economy plummeted. Particularly hard hit were the semiconductor and electronics industries, the primary users of machine-vision systems.

Moreover, the machine-vision market is highly fragmented, with only several hundred worldwide suppliers competing vigorously on products, standards, and connections. Many companies exist on sales of $5 million or less and serve a specific market niche. In addition, most users' needs are unique, and suppliers must work closely with them to incorporate required features. Because of tough economic conditions, alliances, mergers, and acquisitions are likely to increase as some companies find it the best way to remain viable and grow.

The report finds, nevertheless, that the overall future of machine vision in manufacturing appears bright for the next three years. The total worldwide machine-vision market for general-purpose machine-vision suppliers is expected to exceed $890 million in 2002. At a cumulative annual growth rate of nearly 9%, the machine-vision market is projected to reach $1.2 billion by 2005. These revenues are those generated by sales of machine-vision products to the manufacturing industries by general-purpose machine-vision solution suppliers.

Goals driving manufacturers to use general-purpose machine vision include improvements in product variety, development, and performance. These sound like good goals for Vision Systems Design, as well.

George Kotelly, Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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