FRAMOS GmbH and the specialist magazine INSPECT have carried out their sixth survey on “Industrial Cameras and their Technical Features”. The vast array of opinions that continue to exist between manufacturers and users provide informative indicators for future market development. Author: Dr.Ing. Ronald Müller, Head of Product Marketing FRAMOS GmbH This analysis uses the answers provided by 15 camera manufacturers, 9 of which come from Germany, 2 from the USA, and the others from Japan, Belgium, Russia and Israel. The answers of 43 camera users, whose cameras are predominantly used in industrial applications, are used for the purposes of comparison. 29 of them come from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 8 from the rest of Europe, and 3 from the USA. 36 purchase fewer than 200 cameras per year, two purchase more than 1000 cameras per year. As far as market segmentation is concerned, valuable information is provided by the range of applications that the manufacturers mention. Cameras are primarily sold for applications in “Automation in production” (22%), “Quality assurance” (22%) and “Measuring technology” (22%), followed by “Automation in logistics” (17%) and “Transport measurement” (16%). The feedback received from users approximately confirms this distribution: 25% of the cameras are used for automation in production, 22% in quality assurance, 17% in logistics automation. Measuring technology (11%) and traffic measurement (7%) play a lesser role amongst participating camera users in this year’s study. In terms of pricing, the manufacturers give the following picture: While a price war is being waged on the market with list prices occasionally less than €250, the manufacturers in our survey were able to sell 30% of their cameras at prices of between €350 and €650. A quarter of the cameras sold to customers are in the price segment between €650 and €1,000, and a further quarter between €1,000 and €3,000. With 11%, the share of cameras sold for more than €3,000 is even higher than the share of cameras sold for less than €350 (approx. 9%). In turn, users are showing a willingness to invest considerable sums of money in camera hardware in certain fields of application: 40% of the cameras are purchased for amounts of between €1,000 and €3,000. For all that, 30% of the cameras that they purchase cost between €650 and €1,000. To the question “What needs to happen for you to expand your business?”, eight of the camera users spontaneously replied that camera prices should fall. With regard to image sensors, a very similar picture exists for users and for manufacturers in terms of brand preference: Sony continues to lead way out in front, followed by Aptina and Truesense. CMOSIS and e2v gained considerably in importance compared to last year, thanks to their new CMOS sensors with Global Shutter technology. There is also agreement amongst market players with regard to the distribution of CCD vs. CMOS sensors: both see the market share of CCD sensors at approx. 71% (± 2%). Manufacturers are working on the assumption that CCD will continue to have a share of 60% in two years’ time. Users, on the other hand, believe that the point will be reached at that time when CMOS and CCD are on a par. A trend from last year confirms this: Users see developments in this direction proceeding faster than manufacturers do – possibly also driven by the hope of falling prices, because CMOS-based sensors are less expensive than CCD sensors. One indicator that this trend is strengthening is certainly also based on the fact that CCD market leader Sony has enormously ramped up its efforts for the market-ready development of CMOS sensors for industrial applications.
Range of sensor resolutions – today and in 2 years
A lot of movement can still be seen with regard to the question about camera resolution. Users and manufacturers are moving briskly away from the resolution range below 1 MP. By contrast, the ranges 3 to 5 MP and 5 to 10 MP are increasing significantly – and pushing the lead segment up from below. Manufacturers would like to be selling around 7% of their cameras in the range above 10 MP in two years’ time. This will certainly depend on the imminent market maturity of the sensors with a range of 12 MP and higher as announced by several sensor manufacturers. The desire for higher frame rates comes in second place for users, after the desire for lower prices.
Range of framerates – today and in 2 years
Then again, the information provided by manufacturers and users regarding frame rates is noticeably different. The impression that manufacturers are a few developmental steps ahead of users is hardly surprising here. They expect that cameras capable of delivering between 60 and 100 frames per second will be superseded by cameras that deliver more than 100 and possible even more than 200 fps. Stable sales are predicted for cameras below 60 fps. Users may see a general shift of the cameras they use towards higher frame rates, but will notice the change less in terms of quality and speed. Looking at the data interfaces, it can be stated that a very clear majority of the manufacturer’s cameras have a Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) interface, followed at some distance by FireWire(b), USB2.0 and even already USB3.0. Based on this, manufacturers expect GigE to remain strongly dominant in two years’ time, although they see USB3.0 overtaking all other interface standards. On the question of which high-speed video interface will win the race for bandwidths of 8 Gbit/s and higher, there is a dead heat between CoaXPress and 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10 GigE). Compared to last year, CoaXPress has gained significantly in acceptance in this area, while 10 GigE has lost ground. This is probably due to the really simple interface technology on the camera side of CoaXPress and the use of a 10 GigE interface, which suffers from some loss in performance. However, the first manufacturer has already successfully brought a 10 GigE camera series to market maturity worldwide.
A inconsistent picture is presented on the user side. Here as well, GigE plays the main role, but the ageing CameraLink and FireWire interfaces are still very strongly represented at present. In the vote for USB3.0 as the expected standard, users are on the same track as manufacturers. However, there is opposition to the data interface at or above 8 Gbit/s: A majority of 57% predicts “victory” for CameraLink HS (only 6% of manufacturers). The wide-ranging differences in how manufacturers view the development of the technology and the market were shown by the response to the question about the obstacles to significant growth of their business. As expected, the predominant factors were “Price” and “Higher speed”, but strong differences were also evident based on the possible answers. The desire for “more stable drivers and SDKs for optimised data transport” is as evident as the desire for “smaller cameras” or “focusing on fewer interface standards”. Overall, a clear indication exists that different approaches will continue to be found in the competition. To summarise: The extensive consistency of the results from year to year, just like the logically consistent continuation of identified trends, confirms the validity of the statistics generated by the market survey. If you register your interest in the 7th edition of the survey in 2014, you will be given the opportunity to contribute to an even more representative picture of the camera market and its future development and be one of the first to profit from it together with the other participants. Download Article (pdf) Publication: Inspect (pdf)