Supporting machine vision for success

13 November 2015

Jochem Herrmann, president of the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA), highlights what he believes are the priorities during his presidency and looks at the challenges facing the machine vision industry. 

Through the last three decades machine vision technology has conquered most fields of industrial production and can be found in numerous non-industrial applications. In the course of this advance the machine vision industry in Europe has achieved a leading position worldwide. Since its founding in 2003, the EMVA has built a strong network and has supported the success of the machine vision industry.

The EMVA will continue to support machine vision technology by offering and expanding the range of member benefits and acting as the European industry voice of the machine vision community. For example, we will further increase networking opportunities by setting up local/regional groups in cooperation with national associations so that members can locally meet and exchange ideas in their local language, while at the same time being part of a large European machine vision community. This is already taking place in France and will be evaluated elsewhere in Europe.

The EMVA will sharpen its profile as an interface between academia and industry. We will promote cooperation between EMVA member companies (mostly SME’s) and European universities and institutes. This can, for example, take place in European R&D programs but also in smaller projects. We will also encourage continuous education of our members – a must in the fast developing machine vision market. Academia can play an important role in this. 

One of the strengths of EMVA today is the high number of component suppliers that are members. In future EMVA intends to broaden the membership among system suppliers, integrators and academia, as there are topics that address the industry as a whole. One of them clearly is standardisation. EMVA is hosting two important standards that are being used worldwide: GenICam and EMVA1288. Because machine vision standards can only be a success when they are accepted worldwide, EMVA is a strong promoter of co-operation between the associations in the international G3 initiative on standardisation. A specific focus will be set in the coming three years to intensify the worldwide cooperation with other machine vision associations. Already, the cooperation of five associations (EMVA, AIA, JIIA, VDMA and CMVU) within G3 and the Future Standards Forum proves how beneficial it is for the industry to have that common approach.

Another area where EMVA will intensify cooperation will be in terms of aligning the methodology of generating market data to offer more qualified market data from more geographic sources. This happens in addition to the market reports EMVA provides on specific European countries and regions. The most recent country report Machine Vision in Italy was published in August. 

Industry trends
A big trend that affects all industry players is the future cross-linked industrial production in the intelligent factory or ‘Smart Factory’ which is part of the Industry 4.0 megatrend. Here, firstly it is important to understand the context: Industry 4.0 is about linking production technology with information technology; and machine vision is one of the most important basic technologies to supply Industry 4.0 with information. Secondly, Industry 4.0 is not a long way off. The big industry groups are already driving the topic forward globally, and first implications of Industry 4.0 are already visible: There is an increasing trend towards traceability along the value chain even down to the end consumer who wants to know the detailed pedigree of a product. Linked to this development, embedded systems will play a more significant role in future machine vision systems. They allow for smaller and more compact solutions while they meet most image processing requirements; and they are integrated into the factory processes to a much higher degree than standalone PC-based systems. Moreover, many people are already working on embedded vision solutions which are not yet connected to machine vision applications. So in future we may see new players with a completely different, non-industrial background. 

Industry 4.0 will further expand the classic model of selling products only towards a combination of product and service selling, as customers demand simplified use of complex technologies. All these developments offer opportunities for the machine vision industry, but they need to be evaluated. It is of great importance that within all processes arising in the course of Industry 4.0, such as setting new standards, the machine vision community in Europe speaks with one voice and communicates the needs and interests of its industry to all relevant stakeholders. EMVA is taking on this responsibility to pave the way for a bright future of the machine vision industry in Europe.

Jochem Herrmann is co-founder and chief scientist of the Dutch camera manufacturer Adimec and joined the EMVA Board of Directors in 2013.

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