Machine vision key for Industry 4.0 growth in Asia-Pacific, says GlobalData

The outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) could prove to be an important catalyst in the adoption of Industry 4.0 initiatives and machine vision in the Asia-Pacific region, as manufacturers strive to resume production. With Asia being the world’s hub of manufacturing, machine vision will see a strong growth in the region over the next five years, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

In their pursuit to adopt Industry 4.0 initiatives (which signifies the smart factory, fuelled by autonomous systems, IoT and machine learning), an increasing number of companies in Asia are now striving to improve upon their various industrial processes, by leveraging various technologies like machine vision coupled with computer vision.

Sunil Kumar Verma, Lead ICT analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Driven by deep learning, machine vision is bound to create new application usage classes, thereby resulting in potential revenue earning opportunities. With countries like China, Taiwan and India to an extent, being the major manufacturing destinations and home to leading industrial production units, the Asia-Pacific region is bound to be a key growth region for machine vision applications. Increasing demand for vision-guided robotic system to maintain production capacity and reduce dependence on the human workforce will further drive the adoption of machine vision usage areas.”

Machine vision is one of the key proliferating branches of AI, which aims at providing machines with vision capabilities similar to human beings to capture and identify images and make decisions as in the real world. Thanks to the inclusion of technologies like Fuzzy Logic, Neural Networks and Deep Learning, the gap between human vision and machine vision continues to get narrowed.

Sunil continues: “These advancements have allowed machine vision to automatically find unique patterns amongst different images captured and implement the required action. This is more advanced and efficient in comparison to conventional machine vision methods practised earlier, where a manual intervention from a user (often a computer programmer) was involved in defining and verifying individual patterns and features.”

The machine vision market in Asia, while still in its nascent stage, is growing at a significant pace driven by the growing number of entrants, which may lead to a lower industry concentration. Though some of the Asian vendors (like Panasonic and Keyence) have marked their presence via the organic route, a few have preferred the inorganic route (like the acquisition of InfinityAR by Alibaba in March 2019, and Omron’s acquisition of Microscan in December 2017).

These vendors are offering varied and specialised product/services to cater to specific process requirements. For instance, Omron and Panasonic and Toshiba offer machine vision systems analysed images to perform appearance inspections, character inspections, positioning and defect inspections. Similarly, Sony offers CMOS image sensors to facilitate manufacturing automation. In addition, there are multiple other vendors offering machine vision products/services across various usage areas like Smart Test & Measurement Systems, Defects detection and Automated Handling & Integration.

Sunil concludes: “Industry 4.0 is generating a lot of interest across most of the Asia-Pacific countries, which will inevitably create demand for machine vision products/service offerings. While the Covid-19 outbreak is expected to act as a catalyst in the adoption of Industry 4.0 and machine vision applications, the absence of standards could be a hindrance. Despite this, the increase in computation power, advancements in machine learning and AI, to create smart machines will facilitate quantum jumps in the adoption and revenue of machine vision.”

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