Machine Vision Tightens Focus

Cognex Corp. ( ), which calls itself the world's leading supplier of machine vision systems, has joined with another machine vision leader in its purchase of DVT Corp ( ). "This is the largest acquisition that Cognex has ever completed . . . in terms of price, in terms of revenue, and most importantly, in terms of the positive impact that it will likely have on our company," says Cognex chairman and CEO, "Dr. Bob" Shillman.

DVT sells its low-cost vision sensors primarily to the fast-growing industrial automation segment. Recently, Cognex launched low-cost vision products to compete with DVT (including the clever Checker, which targets photoelectrics users), but has found it challenging to reach prospects without a large distribution channel. With the acquisition, Cognex gains a worldwide network of more than 150 industrial distributors to augment its roster of 40 or so in North America.

Shillman says that while there is perhaps 80% direct product overlap between the companies, DVT customers should not worry. "If you like DVT products and keep buying them, we will keep making them," he notes. Cognex plans to maintain operations at DVT's current facility in Duluth, GA, and to continue selling and supporting DVT products. But Shillman admits that the company will spend no engineering time to enhance products that don't demonstrate sustainable demand. Shillman hopes the move will benefit end users by making it easier for them to select a machine vision supplier, and by providing a more stable source of product.

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Another consolidation in the machine vision arena seems to corroborate Shillman's assertion that "Machine vision is a tough business, in which small companies cannot do well." The acquisition of Coreco Inc. ( ) by DALSA ( ) has been finalized to form DALSA Coreco.

According to a news release issued by DALSA, the deal brings together two companies "whose combined vision technology is at the core of some of the most advanced and productive automated manufacturing systems in use today." DALSA Coreco hopes to "lead in the convergence of technologies that is rapidly occurring in the machine vision industry" and to leverage its 50+ years of combined experience to that end.

Amid all the changes, the company says these things will remain: strategies, sales objectives, distribution channel, and support of all camera makers. DALSA Coreco will operate as a separate business unit under the DALSA Corp. umbrella. Keith Reuben, president and CEO of Coreco, will continue as president of the new business unit and all senior management and staff will remain in place. "This agreement fulfills Coreco's long-stated strategy of gaining access to sensor technology and furthering our capabilities for smart cameras," Reuben says.

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