Supporting machine vision for success

European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) outlines the challenges facing the machine vision industry, such as supply chain tracking, Industrie 4.0 advances, and standards cooperation in comments to Control Engineering Europe.

By Jochem Herrmann December 2, 2015

Through the last three decades machine vision technology has conquered most fields of industrial production and can be found in numerous nonindustrial 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 European Machine Vision Association (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, EMVA will set up local/regional groups in cooperation with national associations so members can locally meet and exchange ideas in their local language, while 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 by promoting cooperation between EMVA member companies (mostly subject matter experts) and European universities and institutes. This can, for example, take place in European research and development (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. 

Standard vision

An EMVA strength is the high number of component suppliers that are members. In the 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 standardization. EMVA is hosting two important standards that are being used worldwide: GenICam and EMVA1288.

Because machine vision standards only can succeed when they are accepted worldwide, EMVA is a strong promoter of cooperation between the associations in the international G3 initiative on standardization. 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 provides a common approach.

EMVA will intensify efforts to provide more qualified market data from more geographic sources, augmenting reports that EMVA provides on specific European countries and regions. For example, a "Machine Vision in Italy" report was published in August 2015. 

Vision for 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. It is important to understand the context: Industrie 4.0 is about linking production technology with information technology; and machine vision is one of the most important basic technologies to supply Industrie 4.0 with information.

Secondly, Industrie 4.0 is not a long way off. The big industry groups are already driving the topic forward globally, and first implications of Industrie 4.0 are already visible. There is an increasing trend towards traceability along the value chain down to the end consumer who wants to know the detailed pedigree of a product. Linked to this development, embedded systems will play a larger role in future machine vision systems. They allow for compact products, meet most image processing requirements, and are more highly integrated into the factory processes compared to standalone PC-based systems.

Moreover, many people are already working on embedded vision solutions, which are not yet connected to machine vision applications. New players with completely different, nonindustrial backgrounds may emerge.

Industrie 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. Within all processes arising in the course of Industrie 4.0, such as setting new standards, the machine vision community in Europe should speak with one voice and communicate the needs and interests of its industry to 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, co-founder and chief scientist of the Dutch camera manufacturer Adimec, joined the EMVA board of directors in 2013. This article was originally prepared by Suzanne Gill, editor of Control Engineering Europe. Edited for the North American edition by Joy Chang, digital project manager, Control Engineering,

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