Over the last years, we have been assisting to a great evolution in the machine vision hardware. The resolution and sensitivity of the industrial cameras combined with the increasing speed of the processors enabled the industry to perform tasks that were unthinkable a few years ago. A broad new range of opportunities emerged in the market and several players tried to seize them, but the overall complexity of the solutions didn’t allow, in several cases, to solve them efficiently.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to this. The customers don’t always have a precise and detailed requirement definition at the beginning of the project, which tends to lead to a gap in the client’s expectations at the end.
The limited physical space in the plants versus the ideal size of the systems or machines is always subject to discussion. These conflicts usually lead to concessions on the machine vision side, reducing its efficiency.
Apart from the hardware, the selection of the software and the inspection program is also a key factor to the overall success of the solution to the final customer. The lack of skilled professionals has had a high impact on the industry, and it’s not expected that the situation improves in the following years but the very opposite.
The segment of the smart camera-based solutions with its new innovations tries to answer some of these problems, and for sure contributed to the penetration of machine vision solutions in the market by solving simple identification and measurement applications.
However, the recent trend in the market, especially in the manufacturing sector is the increasing adoption of automation and process control tasks. This brings benefits in reducing the errors caused by humans by limiting its intervention. These types of complex problems are not fit for the smart cameras, they need to be solved with PC-based solutions which offer a greater processing power and are able to compensate for unexpected variations.
However, there is still a lack in the market of flexible software which can combine good graphics and user interface with code-oriented algorithms. This, combined with the lack of skilled people mentioned before, faces a challenge in this market limiting its growth.
The other sector that is expected to increase in the next years is the vision-guided robotic systems across several industries like consumer electronics, automotive, pharmaceutical, food, and packaging. The latest advances in 3D technology are boosting this type of application and the demand is high. In this case, the market has to converge to normalized solutions to increase efficiency, scalability, and time to line.
The penetration rate of machine vision solutions will continue to grow in the next years. Overall, there will be space for both segments, but the pc-based solutions are expected to be higher than the smart camera segment. The market is very competitive, we saw in the last years’ growth in the M&A activities lead by the key players and the degree of innovation is constantly increasing which makes it very interesting and challenging to all the players in the market.
Neadvance has been observing closely all these dynamics and acted accordingly where the nea platform and the collaborations with major 3D camera manufacturers and robotic companies are the most obvious examples. The years to come in the machine vision market will be exciting and Neadvance will continue to play its role in this increasingly significant market.
Article by José Pedro Ferreira, Head of Business Development & Sales at Neadvance