Cognex Sensors India eyes aggressive growth

What is the foremost thought that comes to mind when we talk about the applications of a camera in the automotive domain? Security?

Autocar Pro News DeskBy Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 04 Jul 2013 Views icon7771 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Cognex Sensors India eyes aggressive growth
Global supplier of machine vision systems and industrial barcode readers has itshands full with ample orders as OEMs and auto ancillary units in India keep up their spend on factory automation that can help provide highly efficient,real-time decisions and control to manufacturing processes.Amit Panday reports.

What is the foremost thought that comes to mind when we talk about the applications of a camera in the automotive domain? Security? Not many would know that far beyond security-specific applications, cameras are involved in multiple manufacturing stages of not just a full vehicle but also aggregates and even small components such as bearings. This is where the US-based Cognex Corporation steps in. It is one of the largest suppliers in the world for machine vision systems, industrial barcode readers and vision software to multiple sectors such as automotive, logistics, semi-conductor, automation, pharma and electronics among others.


Didier Lacroix, senior vice-president, international sales and marketing, Cognex Corporation, explains that “machine vision systems are devices that capture and analyse visual information, and are used to automate tasks that require ‘seeing’. Camera lens and image sensors are used to capture images. Vision software analyses what is being seen and communicates the information to other equipment. Vision systems can have a variety of physical forms, depending on the user’s needs. Users can either opt for vision software to use with their own camera and processor or they can use a standalone unit that combines camera, processor and software into a single package, also called as smart cameras.” According to Lacroix, the latter fits well in the compact manufacturing lines where effective utilisation of space is practiced.

Reading data effortlessly



When it comes to auto-specific applications, these vision systems play a vital role in identification of essential components such as reading the data matrix codes on the transmission and engine components, hybrid battery codes, camshaft traceability, turbocharger traceability, symbol verification on motor components, transfer gear traceability, gasoline pump traceability, soot particle filter identification, verification of oil cap assembly, window glass robot assembly and many other parts. Besides identifying the parts, these vision systems are also used for quality inspection of connecting rods, engine blocks, gearbox multi-points, wheel nut assembly, auto transmission, injector sealing ring, welded metal frame assembly, side panels, clutch housing, casting and finishing, instrument panels, fuel injectors, elimination of defects from metal seat components, pump seals, screws and bearings, laser weld imperfections, tyre distortions, and in multiple other areas.

OEM focus on automation helps CSI

Cognex Sensors India (CSI), the Indian arm of the company, is one of the few players which are being benefited by the increased spending on R&D and automation by the auto majors during this downturn. The four-year-old firm currently markets vision sensors, barcode readers and vision systems (smart cameras) from its global portfolio with the latter being the most focussed offering to Indian OEMs and component vendors. Maruti Suzuki India, Hyundai Motor India, Tata Motors, Renault-Nissan, General Motors, Ford India, Fiat (the last three are exclusive clients to Cognex globally) are some of the car makers which procure the vision systems from CSI. On the other hand, TVS Motor Co and Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India are the biggest clients for the firm in the two-wheeler business. While Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Volvo-Eicher are the CV-specific customers, component manufacturers like Continental and Brakes India are two high-end customers for CSI. Present across Bangalore, Pune and Delhi with its laboratories, the firm imports and supplies its products through a network of 15 distributors, which are exclusive to the company but also market the other integrated products used in installations. “It takes more than a year to train the application engineers of the distributors and to ensure that they understand these vision systems like experts. Once appointed as the distributor, we have weekly reviews to assess the stock, deliveries, enquiries, demand anticipation and others,” says a company official. The seven-member core team (4 – sales, 2 – applications, 1 – marketing) in India (as against around 40-member team in China) was able to notch a turnover of around Rs 5-10 crore during 2012 and they now eye a near-50 percent jump in 2013. Around 60 percent of CSI’s revenues come from the automotive domain.

According to the official, the firm has bagged substantial orders so far this year and is moving at par with its target. “It takes a minimum of 4-5 months to up to one year to close a project. The application evaluation is a long process and requires a good understanding of how these sophisticated systems function,” says Lacroix. Going forward, while the firm has no plans of localising these expensive equipment in India, CSI is working towards maximising its reach and outdo the current limitation of not being able to tap all opportunities in sight. It plans to expand its team and operations and appoint more dealerships in due course of time.
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