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More than just good cameras – Interview with Frank Grube from Allied Vision

20 Apr 2015

As a supplier of machine vision technology, STEMMER IMAGING is an important partner for many manufacturers of machine vision components. We often have a very close collaboration with these manufacturers and make our own and our customer's experience available to them so it can be used as input for future developments. As a user of this technology, you may be interested to know what trends our partners have identified and where they see their strengths. In this interview, Frank Grube, founder and CEO of Allied Vision, presents his visions.

In your opinion, what are currently the most important technical, economical or market-related trends in imaging and machine vision?

Frank Grube: Our young industry is slowly gaining maturity. The technological dynamics, however, remain unchanged. The customer become increasingly demanding – they no longer want just one component from one supplier but a complete package from a single partner. Customers want to be sure that they are supplied with a continuously high level of quality, they want professional support in their own time zone and they want an option to buy the very same product again five years down the line. Allied Vision repositioned itself last year in order to satisfy these requirements and to further develop the cooperative relationship with our customers and sales partners as well as to be able to offer a customized composition of consultation, cameras, software, accessories and support to each of our customers.

An example is Sony's announcement to discontinue the production of CCD sensors. As a supplier we know that this discontinuation creates a significant adjustment effort for our customers and that they are forced to look for alternative solutions. Allied Vision is closely collaborating with sensor manufacturers to develop alternatives in order to ensure future supply of CCD-based cameras for its customers as well as to offer them a smooth transition to CMOS technology. We will develop reliable alternatives together with our customers and make sure they will be able to procure CCD cameras from us even after the production of CCD sensors has been discontinued.

Regarding market development, we still find ourselves in the comfortable situation of operating within a growing overall market. Asia and particularly China continues to see strong growth. We are also very happy about the positive development in Europe and North America. As regards applications, the variety outside of industrial machine vision keeps increasing. Apart from the conventional non-industrial market segments such as science, medical technology and traffic applications, new applications and markets keep coming up in which our cameras are used for innovative solutions. The creativity of our customers seems to have no limits when it comes to fields of application for our cameras.

What are the most important developments your company is currently working on?

Frank Grube: One thing is that we are expanding our portfolio with a large number of new CMOS sensors. Our portfolio currently covers the range between VGA and 29 megapixel in the visible spectrum. We will obviously offer new sensors in this range. As soon as attractive sensors with even higher resolutions become available, we will make them available to our customers in order to offer the entire range of available technology. In summer 2015, our USB3 vision portfolio based on the Mako line will become available. I have to admit that we are late in introducing USB3. However, our USB3 implementation will satisfy the most demanding requirements regarding speed and stability. This is what Allied Vision stands for.

We presented a study based on the Thunderbolt interface at the Vision Show 2014 in Stuttgart that attracted great interest. The market will soon see new developments from us in this area.

Infrared-based applications will be increasingly employed in the future. The possibilities for application of infrared cameras are fascinating. We will expand this portfolio with the new Goldeye SWIR camera generation as the entire concept of it is designed for machine vision requirements. With the Goldeye G-033, we will offer the fastest GigE Vision SWIR camera on the market. This innovation won us the golden 2015 Innovators Award of the technical magazine Vision Systems Design.

As you can see, we are working on numerous new products in order to keep serving our customers with innovative and market-oriented products.

Where do you see the greatest strengths of your company?

Frank Grube: We are able to develop reliable high-performance digital cameras and produce almost any number of them. Admittedly, others can do so, too. What makes Allied Vision unique is that we offer our customers a lot more than just a good camera: We guide them in selecting the best camera solution for their application. That also includes suitable accessories. I have already mentioned the "package" earlier. The software interface is also of great importance, which is often underestimated. Many customers tell me: "Your cameras are good but the real reason I to buy cameras from Allied Vision is your flexible Vimba Software Development Kit".

I am also frequently told: "At Allied Vision I can rely on competent support in case I ever have a problem with my camera". I am obviously very happy about that since that is precisely where I see our strength: We have a partnership approach. We want to help people to make the most of their potential in the long term by providing them with the best imaging solution available for their requirements and by being there for them whenever they need us - even years after the purchase

That is also why we collaborate so closely with STEMMER IMAGING. We help each other to keep this promise to our common customers. We strengthened this partnership last year by appointing sales managers for France, Great Britain and Scandinavia who will facilitate daily business with Stemmer Imaging in their respective countries.

What was the most important highlight for your company in the last 12 months?

Frank Grube: We have created a new brand identity and a new self-image of Allied Vision. With our new presence as Allied Vision, we are now able to communicate what we are more clearly: A reliable partner who is always side by side with its customers. We are focussing on the important points and yet do not lose sight of the big picture.

What is your current most important personal goal?

Frank Grube: I want Allied Vision to have the most satisfied customers for products and services in the machine vision market. That is the best basis for recurring and new business. We at Allied Vision therefore want to delight our customers on a daily basis in collaboration with our partners!

Allied Vision Goldeye

The compact cameras with their active thermo electric cooling sensors provide low-noise image quality, even with very long exposure times. Comprehensive I/O control and a particularly robust housing predestine the Goldeye series for use in industrial applications.

Allied Vision Manta

Feature rich digital cameras with resolutions ranging from VGA (0.3 megapixel) up to 12 megapixel. Industrial GigE Vision interface (with POE options) with frame rates of up to 125 frames per second.

Allied Vision Mako

Measuring only 29 x 29 x 61 mm this entry level camera is an excellent price/performance offering from Allied Vision. With CCD, CMOS, CMOS with increased infrared sensitivity and a polarisation sensor, there are plenty of options to suit various applications.