A universal language
Globalization is a trend affecting every industry and is a force to be feared or embraced.
Globalization is a trend affecting every industry and is a force to be feared or embraced. To its advantage, the machine-vision industry has embraced this trend. Its network of company offices, distribution partners, and system integrators could be the envy of any relatively small industry that seeks a global reach.
Several fast-growing regions of the world, however, are only tentatively tied into this network. China, with an industrial growth rate of 20%--30% per year, presents the largest and most complex opportunity for expanding the machine-vision market. Many companies from North America, Europe, and Japan have or plan to set up business in China. The Chinese, in turn, are embracing machine vision as an important tool to increase manufacturing productivity and quality-critical issues even in a nation known for its pool of low-cost skilled labor.
Numerous international machine-vision companies, along with their Chinese partners and local startup companies, will be exhibiting at the China International Machine Vision Exhibition in Shanghai (March 22-24; www.machinevisionshow.cn). The show is sponsored by the Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society and MagicBourn Technology Media and will include a business and technical symposium and an inaugural meeting of the China Machine Vision Club. The Automated Imaging Association is sending a delegation to the show, andVision Systems Designwill exhibit at and report on the show.
The success of the machine-vision industry in reaching global markets can be attributed to innovative products. For example, German-based Comovia has created a laser-based, 3-D imaging system that recognizes black-on-black characters on the sides of automobile tires. This system, described in our cover story, uses off-the shelf imaging components and sophisticated algorithms to perform high-speed character recognition.
Other innovative designs described in this issue range from a vision-guided system to perform microwelds on pacemakers to advances in LED illumination that provide integrators with more control and more options in lighting. As discussed in an article on components, integration is becoming easier thanks to advances in such standards as Camera Link, GigE, GenICam, and the EMVA 1288. These standards will improve the task of interfacing digital cameras to frame grabbers and computers.
To highlight both the increasing sophistication and simplicity of smart cameras and how they are being incorporated into the manufacturing environment, our interview with system-integrator David Pilliod of Automated Control Solutions stresses the cost benefits to OEMs. The trend toward embedding such smart vision capabilities into manufacturing systems for Chinese industry is an important consideration for camera makers selling into this market. These technical developments, combined with strategic marketing agreements and effective distribution channels, are helping vision companies have an impact around the world.
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief