North American sales of machine vision components and systems that provide vision intelligence to robots and other machines reached $2.874 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.2% over 2017 and a new record for the market.
According to statistics from the AIA, the industry trade group and part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), application-specific machine vision (ASMV) systems led the growth with $1.998 billion in sales in 2018, an increase of 7.8% over 2017, followed by smart cameras with $466 million, an increase of 14.2%.
Machine vision component markets also set new records in 2018 with $401 million in total sales representing 11.7% growth. This increase was driven primarily by component camera sales, which increased 16.2% to $219 million, followed by software (8.9% to $21 million), optics (8.8% to $44 million), lighting (7.9% to $77 million) and imaging boards (1.5%to $40 million).
“Vision technologies are becoming smarter and smaller to solve the increasingly complex challenges associated with emerging automation applications such as AI-driven bin picking, autonomous vehicles, and advanced inspection technologies,” said Alex Shikany, vice president of AIA and business intelligence at A3. “Vision components in everything from cameras to lighting to software must work together seamlessly to provide the visual intelligence that robots and other smart machines require to do their jobs. We’re excited to see what new innovations are created in the months and years ahead to make this data collection even simpler and more intuitive.”
According to AIA’s latest survey of industry experts, 80% of respondents believe that sales of machine vision components will remain flat or decrease in the next six months. Similarly, 62% believe machine vision systems markets will plateau or decrease in the next two quarters.
According to Shikany, this predicted stagnation might come from a “slight softening of the manufacturing sector seen in the last quarter of 2018, which showed the PMI dipping to the low 50s and the semiconductor market decreasing.” The results are also a reflection of experts’ belief that this market is due for a normalization of growth, having posted six straight years of expansion.
Motion control all shows record growth
The Motion Control & Motor Association recently reported that the global motion control and motor market experienced record growth in 2018, with $3.827 billion in shipments, up 8 percent over 2017. Shipments were up 3 percent in the last quarter of 2018, at $946 million, contributing to the overall annual growth of the market.
The largest categories within the overall market were motors (40 percent), actuators and mechanical systems (19 percent), and electronic drives (17 percent). Those three categories grew 11 percent to $1.508 billion, 12 percent to $735 million, and 7 percent to $641 million respectively, which contributed to the overall growth. The strong performance in these markets highlights the substantial role motion control and motor technologies play in growing automation worldwide.