According to VDMA, the turnover of the German machine vision industry has doubled in the last 10 years. Between 2013 and 2017, the industry grew by an average of 13 percent per year, last year alone by almost 18 percent.
"According to current surveys, the VDMA expects the record level of 2.6 billion euros to be maintained in 2018," said Dr. Klaus-Henning Noffz, chairman of the board of the VDMA Machine Vision sector group and CEO of Silicon Software.
"Despite all the challenges, the general mood in the industry is positive and the overall growth trend will continue," said Noffz. "Machine vision is firmly established in production and is continuously conquering new fields of application, even outside the factory environment – constantly striving for improved quality, higher reliability and more safety. Embedded vision in combination with deep learning provides further impetus for growth."
VDMA contends that machine vision is constantly conquering new markets and fields of application. In 2017, deliveries of the German machine vision industry to non-industrial sectors accounted for 26 percent of sales, and saw further growth of 16 percent. The main growth drivers were the areas of security & surveillance, intelligent traffic systems, medical diagnostic equipment and surgical technology.
Broken down by sector, the automotive industry remains the strongest customer for the German machine vision industry, accounting for 19 percent of total sales. In 2017, sales to the automotive industry worldwide increased by 20 percent. Sales to the general industry (excluding automotive) grew by 17 percent compared to the previous year. With a share of 16 percent, the electrical/electronics industry - including semiconductors - was the second largest customer and again an important growth driver. Sales increased by 48 percent in 2017.
Germany remains an important sales market: 33 percent of sales were generated in Germany, 8 percent more than in the previous year. Demand in Europe (excluding Germany) grew by 1 percent. Exports to Asia, primarily China, increased by 47 percent. At 14 percent, China was the most important export market (plus 56 percent), followed by North America (plus 25 percent) compared to 2016.
Sales of machine vision components grew by almost 24 percent in 2017. Cameras are the most important component, accounting for 29 percent of total sales of the German machine vision industry. Camera sales grew by 28 percent in 2017. With a growth rate of 13 percent, sales of machine vision systems developed somewhat less dynamically.