UKIVA’s new committee has devised a plan to encourage greater use of vision systems – which began with the recent success of its expanded Machine Vision Conference, says UKIVA Chairman Allan Anderson.
I’ve just returned from UKIVA’s annual Machine Vision Conference (MVC) – where we did things a bit differently this year.
For the first time, the event ran across two days; it was also co-located with Automation UK, a new show organised by our sister organisation, BARA. The increasing convergence of vision and robotics has led to greater overlap between the technologies. Co-locating our events allowed visitors to see how best to apply vision and robotics to their own businesses.
Despite the obvious synergy between the events, they’re very different in nature. Automation UK is a technology-focused expo; MVC remains an educational and technical conference at heart, supplemented by a compact exhibition. As always, all booths at MVC were identical in size.
The larger venue gave MVC exhibitors more space to display machine vision solutions. Visitors had more scope – and time – to explore the technologies. The two-day format also enabled a new conference format. The one-day programme was repeated on day two – in a different order – allowing visitors to see any presentations they had missed on day one.
This year’s keynote speaker, Jeff Burnstein, is president of A3 – a North American trade association for both vision and robotics. He offered critical insight into vision trends and applications – and discussed future applications of vision systems.
Collaborating with an organisation like A3 – and, for that matter, BARA – is critical for UKIVA. A collaborative mindset will help the vision sector to expand – as will the programme of change that we have recently formulated.
As well as having a new committee, UKIVA has created a strategy focused on four key areas, the Machine Vision Conference (MVC), membership, education and training, and Vision in Action (ViA) and marketing. Each committee member – supported by the chairman or vice-chairman – will take responsibility for one area.
UKIVA’s new committee – seen in the photo, from left to right – comprises Simon Hickman – vice chairman; Paul Wilson (responsible for membership); Allan Anderson – chairman; Mark Williamson (MVC); Ian Alderton (ViA/marketing). Paul Cunningham – not pictured – is responsible for education and training.
Our plan to keep improving MVC will see it continue to expand in size – and attract more delegates. We took our first step this year by extending the event to two days. We want MVC to become the event for the industry: we’ll achieve this by building a diverse audience of OEMs, machine builders, end users and academics. Maintaining MVC’s traditional conference programme – with its focus on education and technology – will be vital in this.
Another goal is to grow UKIVA’s member base – by extending the benefits that membership offers. These benefits include preferential rates to exhibit at MVC, media exposure through Vision in Action, and discounted rates for training. We also plan to create a machine vision community – where ideas can be exchanged in dedicated networking sessions. This way, we are confident we can expand from 50 to 70 core members within two years.
Education and training underpin professional development. We intend to explore a UKIVA-certified scheme for vision solution providers – and look at options to introduce UKIVA machine vision training courses. Schemes like this will make membership more attractive – and further boost numbers. To support certification and training schemes, UKIVA members will offer live online STEM sessions – creating good publicity and highlighting the vision industry as an employer.
Vision in Action (ViA) is the main route to market for many members. In future, UKIVA will expand its size and reach. A variety of initiatives – ‘ask the expert’ sessions, an increased digital presence and live-streamed discussions – will enhance the magazine and offer members an improved product. Raising ViA’s quality – in both the print and digital versions – will help expand its readership. In addition, enhancing our presence online and through social channels will further boost UKIVA’s reach and influence.
Machine vision can help industry to raise its competitiveness by banishing repetitive tasks and speeding up processes such as inspection and packaging. With its new strategy, UKIVA will make it easier for members to boost sales of their products and services – and extend the use of machine vision in the UK.