North American sales of machine vision systems and components grew six percent to $1.8 billion through September, the market’s highest total for the first nine months of a year in history, according to new statistics issued by AIA, the industry’s trade group.
Total machine vision sales include sales of machine vision systems and components. The machine vision systems category saw a year over year increase of six percent to $1.5 billion in the first half of 2015. Machine vision systems include application specific machine vision (ASMV) systems and smart cameras. ASMV systems increased eight percent to $1.3 billion in the first nine months of 2015, while smart cameras declined by one percent to $220.6 million.
Similarly, machine vision component markets have grown this year by five percent to $164.7 million in total. The leading product categories within machine vision components in terms of growth were lighting (22%), imaging boards (10%), and software (9%).
“Experts in the industry continue to be optimistic for growth in machine vision cameras, software, and imaging boards in the next six months,” said Alex Shikany, AIA’s Director of Market Analysis. “They are not as optimistic about machine vision system markets, however, as the majority expect them to remain flat in the next two quarters.”
Despite the market’s new record, there was a notable decrease in third quarter performance, due mainly to a contraction in sales of machine vision systems. The systems category saw a 13% decrease in sales from the third quarter of 2014, its first year over year decrease since the fourth quarter of 2012. When combined with the modest two percent growth in machine vision components, total North American sales for machine vision decreased by 11% in the third quarter of 2015.
“We saw indications in the second quarter of 2015 that a cyclical downturn was coming,” Shikany added. “After reaching record high levels at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, two of the largest categories we measure, ASMV systems and smart cameras have declined substantially. AIA has seen cyclical downturns similar to this in the third quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2013.”
“We are encouraged to see the record year to date performance in 2015 for machine vision sales in North America, but recognize the market’s cyclicality,” said AIA President Jeff Burnstein. “Despite the market cooling in the third quarter, we continue to see more companies than ever before interested in applying machine vision to their operations.”