EditorialUse of machine vision (MV) is increasing across a range of industrial applications. The worldwide MV market is about EUR 4 billion, and double-digit annual growth is forecast for the next five years. Many industrial sectors have recognised how reliable quality control is the basis for good quality management. MV has proved to be a powerful tool to fulfil this task. The MV system has often been made for quality control, but soon accumulated production experience enabled its application to full-scale quality management of production.
The National Machine Vision technology programme has launched many successful projects in industry. The Technology Transfer Node programme (TTN) funded by the European Commission is now introducing the results of many new MV projects developed in collaboration with technology providers and end-users at the European level.
The number of MV companies has grown rapidly, but many newcomers are still struggling with their limited business coverage and slow growth. As their leading edge disappears very quickly, young technology companies have to invest in marketing and better penetration of the world market.
Networking provides the key to make small enterprises more powerful and lift their credibility to the level needed abroad. In this edition of Machine Vision News we should like to introduce some success stories and new projects where dissemination and exploitation of the results form an essential part of the project.
Vision Club of Finland, (VCF), has been active in collecting information and publishing this annual newspaper for the past four years. For this edition we have worked together with the European TTN programme and included European project descriptions and their new applications in the paper. We look forward to acquiring good international distribution coverage for this edition of Machine Vision News and to spreading awareness to different industries where MV can be applied to improve productivity, quality and the competence of end-users and technology providers.
In Finland, Machine Vision Days are an annual event. We have already met together for seven years, and I personally hope you will be prepared to continue and develop this tradition and make the most of the occasion. This year we shall get together in September at Automation Days, where we shall once again build the Vision Boulevard and many technology providers will be introducing their new products and applications.
Vision Club of FinlandVCF was established in 1995. It is a section of the Finnish Society of Automation (FSA).
The aim of VCF is to:- Promote MV theory, technological development and diffusion to industrial applications;
- Be a forum for members and all users of MV to disseminate technological experience and to advance professional skills;
- Enhance exchange of information between domestic and international organisations.
MembersThe membership of the Club consists of ordinary individual members and patrons. The members represent MV providers, users, researchers and students. Any corporate body may register with the council as a patron of the Club. The members represent various fields of MV and automation, including trade, research, manufacturing, education, design and use.
At the beginning of 1999 we had 137 members representing over 40 companies and 8 universities and research centres.
International ConnectionsVCF is active in building up contacts with MV clubs in other countries. We have attended the Hanover Fair with our member companies for the past three years.
Machine Vision DaysVCF organised Machine Vision Days on May 26 - 27.1998 in co-operation with the Machine Vision Technology Transfer Node (TTNMV-SF) of the Esprit High Performance Computing and Networking programme (HPCN-TTN network).
The theme was "Quality management by machine vision". The exhibition and the seminar received 121 participants, most of them from industry. The feedback was most positive and people asked for this tradition to continue.
Forthcoming event in Finland:The Automation´99 seminar and exhibition, September 14-16, 1999 in the Helsinki Exhibition and Congress Centre, Finland.
The Finnish Society of Automation SocietyThe FSA, founded in 1953, is a professional association for specialists within the field of automation technology. FSA operations cover all branches of industry. At the beginning of 1999 we had 1,642 ordinary members, nine honorary members and 51 patrons in the Society.
Finnish Automation Support Ltd
The company provides the Society with necessary office services. It also makes practical arrangements for scientific events, excursions, society meetings, exhibitions, etc. and co-ordinates technology programmes and TTN activities related to machine vision.
Automation Days, organised by the Society since 1966, is the major biennial event in the field of industrial automation. In September 1997, the exhibition attracted over 20,000 visitors. The exhibition area of over 6800 m2 included 204 stands. VCF built a Vision Boulevard with its Vision Forum, where member organisations held their daily presentations of the latest MV achievements. A total of 550 participants attended the conference accompanying the exhibition. The Vision Boulevard will be built once again at Automation'99 in September.