Where is our industry headed? G. Mazeaud gives out his opinion with the future of the Machine Vision Industry.
The market for Industrial Vision is growing worldwide. The number of consumers increases, and with it the range of vision products gets more sophisticated and less expensive. Industry must adapt to meet this demand; vision systems are a vital tool allowing manufacturers to simultaneously guarantee productivity, quality and adaptability.
Without doubt the machine vision products will continue to evolve, but how? Looking at past developments, we can see that the technology has evolved from complex PC based systems towards simpler, smarter cameras and vision systems. Smart cameras fill a void that existed between complex vision systems and simple vision sensors. Smart cameras are equipped with integrated lighting and are simple to use.
These latest developments are driven by the needs of the market for smarter, cheaper vision solutions. So, are complex vision PC based vision systems going to disappear? There are still applications where a smart camera is not suitable. Looking at the range of passive cameras now available (Basler, Dalsa, IDS, Vision component, etc.) and software solutions (Cognex, Scorpion, Adaptive Vision, MV Tec, Halcon, etc.), I do not believe this is going to change soon. Many applications in the industry do need complex vision systems that smart cameras cannot replace.
As for smart cameras, the prices continue to fall. They are presented as easy-access products for non-specialists, but they remain complex to setup (if you want to get the best out of them). It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to justify charging 5x the price of the camera for installations and configuration. It is difficult to imagine that if prices continue to fall, these products will become simpler to setup, rather, they will gain increased functionality. In any event, even with falling prices, it is misleading to believe that users can install a fully functional smart camera by themselves.
Are vision systems going to go the way of mobile phones, where the latest technology is obsolete after 2 years?
I believe industrialists have different needs: they cannot afford to have their machine vision systems become obsolete after 2 or 3 years. Manufacturers setup systems on their production lines knowing they will be able to get replacement parts for many years to come.