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Signs of Life in the Economy
by Andrew Zosel on January 15, 2010
posted in Industry Trends

I just returned from the AIA business conference. This group of machine vision manufacturers, system integrators, and customers is optimistic. This is surprising given the beating that this group has taken in 2009. Most of the publicly traded machine vision companies I track were down almost 40% in 2009. In a business that traditionally has high gross margins, such a huge decrease in top line means that in order to survive a company needs to make hard cuts, burn cash or both. By all accounts 2009 was not a fun year for this industry… so why the optimism?

The main reason I can see is faith… faith in the basic value of the solution for industry and faith in the technology that will continue to evolve. It is clear that the players in machine vision believe strongly that their products can and will continue to play a role in making our world better. Whether this is in inspecting food products for contamination and ensuring proper packaging for safety or it is in allowing manufacturers of electronics to drive down costs and allow more people worldwide to afford life improving devices, machine vision has a significant role.

It really feels like the industry is on the verge of a nice growth trend and it is not just a ‘feeling’. There is also data which supports this optimism. Here are 3 recent examples:

  1. The Institute for Supply Manufacturing purchasing managers index has been above 50% for four months in a row;
  2. Taiwanese publicly traded companies (which report revenues monthly) are not showing the dramatic after Christmas slowdown of December 2008; and
  3. the SEMI book-to-bill ratio has been above 1 for five months in a row.

Let’s hope these trends continue and here’s to a strong recovery in 2010.

Posted by Andrew Zosel,  Vice President, Engineering & Vertical Solutions
Andrew Zosel (BSME, MBA) holds several patents for opto-mechanical systems and has been responsible for numerous product innovations. Andrew has experience in the nuclear power, semiconductor, and general electronics industries. He is currently responsible for overseeing the activities of Microscan's engineering and industry-focused solutions teams.


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