ISRA Vision AG: Delivering the next generation of machine vision
By Lisa Chai, Senior Research Analyst, ROBO Global
Machine vision technology first entered industrial application in the early 1970s, but due to high computing costs, penetration had been limited for decades. All of that has changed as robotics and automation have rapidly permeated nearly every industry sector and continues to disrupt industries around the world. In today’s quickly changing world of manufacturing, the combination of robotics, automation, and AI is enabling the next generation of machine vision technology. One top player in the space that is delivering machine vision solutions to transform businesses and create the smart factories of the future is ISRA Vision AG, an index member in the Sensing subsector of the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index.
INSIDE ISRA VISION
Founded 35 years ago, ISRA Vision has emerged as a global leader in machine vision solutions. Today, two of its key business units, Industrial Automation and Surface Vision, are focused on delivering new applications in robotic vision, quality inspection, and metrology. The company has a strong global presence, including operations in 25 locations, and is strongly positioned in both factory automation and the production of OEMs for heavy industry, two sectors that are reaping significant benefits from ISRA Vision’s best-in-class technology in surface inspection and 3D machine vision for robot guidance.
The value of machine vision is particularly evident in the automotive sector, where manufacturers face the challenge of having every component that rolls off the production line be free of defects and issues. In the past, minimizing defects required tedious and time-consuming manual inspections. Machine vision has proven to be the ideal technology to help carmakers tackle this task at scale. ISRA Vision’s surface inspection system is an advanced solution that uses industrial cameras equipped with digital sensors and specialized optics. These cameras obtain images of defective components, and then use software algorithms to support decision-making by identifying, processing, and analyzing patterns. As items are processed along the production line, the system automatically identifies any defects, classifies them by type, and then stores the images and associated metadata to continuously improve its ability to ‘see’ and identify future defects. According to ISRA Vision, the solution can be applied in every areas of production—from the press shop to final assembly—to enable quality assurance checks from a single source. The company develops its most advanced components in-house, all of which are used to create machine vision systems designed to improve quality, efficiency, and operations for both industrial or enterprise applications.
ISRA Vision’s surface inspection system is used worldwide in more than 3,000 installations at every leading international automotive manufacturer. The company also offers Intellipick 3D, a next-generation robotic bin picking solution that includes highly accurate automated sensors. Thanks to the solution’s advanced embedded technology, ISRA Vision’s customers are typically able to integrate it into existing factory production processes within just a few weeks and achieve ROI in less than a year.
The demand for solutions to improve quality and support flexible factory automation processes has continued to accelerate, driven in large part by the smartphone and automotive markets. This demand has helped ISRA Vision to deliver a CAGR of 9% over the past decade. As the company’s product mix leaned further toward machine vision and its gross margins trended upward to 60%, ROBO Global called out ISRA Vision as an attractive takeover target for large factory automation companies to our investors. On February 10, 2020, that forecast became reality when the industrial image processing company Atlas Copco offered ISRA Vision 50 euros/share—a premium of 43%. The result has been a 1.1B Euro partnership between the two companies. ISRA Vision will operate and continue to develop from its Darmstadt headquarters as an independent pillar in the Atlas Copco structure, while Atlas Copco will assist with the surface inspection of web materials and with 3D machine vision applications.
Machine vision solutions are vital as companies in myriad industries strive to create more effective, more efficient manufacturing processes and to enable truly smart factories. We expect to see ISRA Vision maintain its leadership role in the space for years to come.