Machine vision returns to the exhibition environment


Neil Sandhu, UKIVA Chairman, welcomes the return of live events ahead of the association’s presence at the 2021 PPMA show.

Several UKIVA members are looking forward to the PPMA Show 2021, which will take place at the NEC, Birmingham, from 28 to September 30. This is the first real opportunity since the first national lockdown in March 2020 for UK vision companies to take part in a face-to-face event. Eleven UKIVA members who are actively involved in the processing and packaging industry are taking part.

The need for live events
In an article in MEPCA back in 2017, we discussed whether the internet and social media were decreasing the need for face-to-face contact in the vision industry. Even back then, videoconferencing technology was readily available, making it easy to establish and reinforce face-to-face business interactions without the overhead of time-consuming travelling. However, the overwhelming view at that time was that conferences and trade exhibitions were still ideal environments in which to discuss application problems with a wide range of experts in the field, find out about all the latest technology in a single location and develop genuine networking opportunities. This view was proved correct by year-on-year increases in visitor and exhibitor numbers at UKIVA’s first three MVC events from 2017 to 2019. There are strong indications that this appetite for live events will be rekindled after 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions. PPMA has conducted extensive research on this issue during 2021, with the overwhelming consensus from exhibitors and visitors alike being a strong desire to return to live exhibitions. Several business and consumer events have already taken place with good attendance at the NEC since it re-opened. From a public health perspective, the venue meets Government and public health guidance on COVID-19, and by the time the PPMA Show 2021 opens its doors, all UK adults will have been offered two vaccination doses.

Dedicated vision events
In addition to increasing show opportunities for vision companies in vertical market sectors, there is also a lot of excitement around the resumption of vision industry-specific events. Europe’s flagship event, Vision in Stuttgart, Germany, has just been confirmed for 5 to October 7, although continuing travel restrictions, particularly from Asia and the US, will make it smaller than usual. From the UK’s perspective, UKIVA is looking forward to its 2022 Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition returning to the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK, on April 28. MVC 2022 will retain its popular format, featuring keynote speakers and an impressive technical seminar programme covering eight different themes, supported by an exhibition of the latest vision technology.

Online activities here to stay
With business events in lockdown in 2020, UKIVA introduced the Machine Vision Conference Technology Presentation hub. This featured online video presentations on the latest developments and practical uses of vision technology from an impressive array of internationally renowned experts in machine vision. For 2021, a new set of more than 40 presentations went live on July 15 at This content will continue to be available until MVC 2022 takes place and is organised across eight key industry topics: Deep Learning & Embedded Vision; 3D Vision; Camera Technology; Vision in Robotics; Optics & Illumination; Understanding Vision Technology; Systems & Applications and Vision Innovation.
Towards the end of the winter lockdown, people’s reliance on video conferencing for many aspects of social life and business led to suggestions of ‘online fatigue’, reducing the impact of online activities for business. However, with social gatherings once again taking place, the overall dependence on online contact is reducing. With many people continuing to work from home, the online environment will continue to be an important platform for business. Indeed the 2021 Technology hub had almost 1000 visitors in the first week it went live. However, there is no doubt that the return to live events will be welcomed by business and end-users alike.


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