Better days ahead

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As news of the first vaccinations in Europe and North America break at press time, there’s renewed hope that the pandemic’s end is in sight for 2021. This is good news for the vision market, which — like all the major sectors of the global economy — has been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Look for a rebound in 2021 and beyond, according to Research and Markets. Its report titled “Machine Vision Systems — Global Market Trajectory & Analytics” takes into account the business implications of the pandemic, and the firm predicts that by 2027, the market is set to reach $17.7 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12%. The 2020 market size in the U.S. is pegged at $2.2 billion. Other noteworthy regions cited include Japan and Canada, which are forecast to grow at 8.4% and 10.5%, respectively, with Germany on track to grow at about a 9.5% CAGR per year.

This growth undoubtedly will come from the march toward automation and the development of the smart factory, two trends we examine in the current issue.

For years, human workers have been tasked with unloading wooden pallets laden with boxes. This work takes a physical toll, and it’s a role that can be performed far more efficiently by robots. Robotic depalletization is an important step forward, but, as we learn in “AI + 3D Machine Vision Transforms Depalletization,” from Photoneo’s Andrea Pufflerova and Michal Maly, problems remain. The authors make the case that by incorporating AI and 3D cameras into the task, benefits abound: With the help of AI, robots can learn to grasp and move various, even irregular- size, boxes. This translates to a need for less expensive robots and grippers, capable of operating more quickly in a smaller space. Read the story here.

For smart factories of tomorrow — those capable of running lights-out production — vision technology is moving beyond performing parts inspection, product tracking, or robotic guidance. Vision is providing the means for monitoring the health of manufacturing processes and systems. Be sure to read “For Smart Factories, a Vision of Success,” from contributing editor Hank Hogan, click here.

For insights on ways in which systems integrators are leveraging novel lighting to simplify and improve spectral imaging, don’t miss “Multispectral Lighting: A Practical Option for Difficult Industrial Imaging Situations,” by Smart Vision Lights’ Jeremy Brodersen (read here). And, finally, engineers are looking to nature for ways to process image data more quickly. “Biological Systems Inspire Image Preprocessing Solutions,” from contributing editor Farooq Ahmed, click here.

Be safe, and be well!

Published: December 2020

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