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COVID-19 g In the meantime, UKIVA, EMVA and AIA


have all announced online versions of their normal events: UKIVA's virtual hub is now live and is full of the presentations that would otherwise have been part of its machine vision conference; AIA held its Vision Week from 18 to 22 May; and EMVA is also to stage a one-day virtual version of its business conference on 26 June. Stemmer Imaging is also working on virtual


versions of its training courses, Williamson told Imaging and Machine Vision Europe. 'Tis always was a goal,' he said. 'However, now there is a direct need, this roll-out is being accelerated.' Williamson also gave an insight into the


support offered to Stemmer Imaging in different countries. 'I have had the role of co-ordinating what support each country can get in the event of a downturn, and the differences are immense, as are the effects of business in each country,' he said. Stemmer Imaging has changed its ways of working at its production sites, and also


increased stock levels to maintain service. Many of its staff are now working from home. Williamson commented: 'By having to work in new ways remotely, communication has in fact improved through these new collaboration tools and new processes for the better. I'm sure the outcome will be a better and more efficient organisation going forward.'


Preparing for the future During the webinar, Burnstein said that most firms he'd spoken to are worried about the rest of this year. 'It's forced more companies to think about what they believe long-term about automation,' he said, adding: 'We have to conserve cash now and make it through this period, but we also have to be ready for when this ends to be able to take advantage of the opportunities.' He continued: 'Tis is going to end and


companies need to be prepared. Right now opportunities exist and more opportunities are going to exist in the future.'


Anderson said one lesson from the crisis


is that firms need to plan more in advance in terms of their supply chain needs. Many vision builders and OEMs have been used to relying on quick access to stock, and that's shown a weakness in the way that some companies plan, he said. Yates emphasised the point of being


prepared. 'Be ready to service the demand when the ability to trade normally comes on,' he said. 'Critical to this is retaining the workforce; supporting the staff to be able to come back quickly to service the demand that I fully believe will be there.'


Te webinar is available on-demand: www.imveurope.com/webcasts


Please let us know how you are coping with the current situation. What are you most concerned about; how are your organisations aiming to deal with the effects of Covid-19? greg.blackman@europascience.com


View from VDMA


By Anne Wendel, director, VDMA Machine Vision


According to the latest incoming order and turnover statistics from the VDMA, the coronavirus pandemic reached the mechanical engineering industry at the end of the first quarter: in March 2020, order intake fell short of the previous year's level by nine per cent in real terms. Domestic orders fell by two per cent; the decline in foreign orders was more pronounced at 12 per cent. The full impact of the crisis,


however, will not be felt in the mechanical engineering sector until the next reporting period, according to VDMA chief economist Ralph Wiechers. Only 14 per cent fewer orders were received from the euro zone in March, and 11 per cent fewer from non-euro countries. Several VDMA surveys of its


members have shown that difficulties in the supply chain consistently affect about half of the companies. In addition, problems on the demand side, i.e. customer orders, have increased significantly, as reported by three out of four mechanical engineering firms surveyed.


Impact on machine vision The VDMA has now completed a third coronavirus flash survey, with 790 VDMA members providing data. Compared to the first and second VDMA flash surveys, the situation has worsened. About 89 per cent of mechanical engineering companies feel impairments; 93 per cent of the companies expect turnover losses for 2020, with about 62 per cent of these firms putting the losses between 10 and 30 per cent; 83 per cent of machinery builders have already made capacity adjustments. Looking at the robotics and automation sector, the survey shows that the situation has also worsened. All participants from the VDMA Robotics and


6 IMAGING AND MACHINE VISION EUROPE JUNE/JULY 2020


Automation trade association feel impairments. Supply-chain disruptions are particularly present in Europe. In terms of demand, disruptions - loss of orders and cancelations - have increased further, and about one third of the companies surveyed expect further increase in disruption to demand in the next three months. Apart from Europe, North America is particularly


‘Nobody knows or can predict how big the impact is going to be on the machine vision industry’


problematic. Almost all automation companies expect revenue losses for 2020, almost 60 per cent of them between 10 and 30 per cent; 90 per cent have already made capacity adjustments. At the moment, nobody


knows or can predict how big the impact is going to be on the machine vision industry. So far, machine vision seems less affected than other sectors, such as robotics or the integrated assembly


solution providers. Luckily, the machine vision industry is less dependent on a single customer industry or a single target country; it is already diversified and highly export- oriented and so, in general, distortions can be better compensated for. Nevertheless, machine vision is currently facing a very difficult situation with a lot of uncertainty. We all hope for a quick recovery, but the situation is unprecedented. Never in the history of machine vision have we experienced a demand and supply crisis at the same time. However, what VDMA Robotics and Automation has learnt from earlier difficult periods is that it’s the machine vision industry that will be the first to come out of the crisis. Stay safe and healthy, and we hope to see you soon!


l The VDMA has set up a central information site, www.vdma.org/corona, that collects information and addresses legal and insurance questions relating to the handling of Covid-19.


@imveurope | www.imveurope.com


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