Automated optical inspection (AOI) was first announced in the mid-90s and is now deployed globally in most of the surface mount technology (SMT) assembly lines. AOI detects millions of points on the surface to be inspected and these points are later analyzed to identify any defects in the goods produced. This equipment is used to detect a variety of surface feature defects, including incorrect components, open circuits, scratches, stains and short circuits, along with inaccurately placed components and as well as missing components in an instrument. AOI basically functions as an automatic visual inspection apparatus for a large number of products such as product packaging labels, agricultural harvests inspections (fruits or seed corn), printed circuit boards (PCBs), along with automobile parts inspections. Automated optical inspection is regarded as one of the furthermost reliable inspection processes for printed circuit boards (PCBs) in a vast majority of electronics goods manufacturing industries. 

The factors favorable to such growth of the market are miniaturization of electronics devices, strong technology penetration in the consumer electronics sector and demand for an accurate, flexible, and fast technique for mounting of components on the PCB. Electronic devices such as MP3 players, laptops, cell phones, and GPS navigation systems have developed due to revolutionary development of microelectronics and the miniaturization of technology. Consequently, the demand for AOI equipment in applications associated to portable consumer electronics is growing and is expected to increase at a quick rate than other applications over the forecast period. With the growing demand for advanced electronics systems required in sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and luxury cars, there has been a significant growth in the demand for AOI equipment in the automotive sector.

The factors restraining the growth of the sector are the high cost of acquiring machinery for automated optical inspection, and high operating frequency in automation & thermal management. Automated optical inspection equipment manufacturers have concentrated on ensuring that algorithms and mechanical designs are robust, along with improving gantry systems. Associated innovation arenas are stack ability, architecture, and measurement capability.

Challenges are numerous owing to the technological complexity and consistency required in the optical inspection. Supplementary encounters include reliability challenges, repair and rework problem for AOI equipment. Development of inspection technology is another challenge in the AOI equipment segment. Consequently, novel innovators can easily dominate the segment with their own value differentiation and technology offering.

For the AOI equipment market to reach its potential one challenge must be addressed. The perception that customary models of AOI equipment underperformed to their customer's expectations. Some of the earlier generations of AOI equipment failed in the field. These early failures shattered the confidence of electronic assembly manufacturers in AOI equipment segment. The lack of confidence has reserved sales for AOI equipment for some manufacturers. Currently, several assemblers have idle AOI equipment in their plants that have not been deployed, as older generations did not perform well. AOI equipment manufacturers would have to strive to educate prospective clientele on their equipment and the benefits of new AOI equipment, as opposed to older inspection equipment. Opportunities are presented by the market owing to the launch of innovations such as AOI solutions for the automobile inspection and growing demand for LED lighting. Future growth in the market is projected to come from emerging opportunities in medical device electronics, defense, aerospace, automotive electronics, and military electronics. Adoption of advanced AOI equipment will be driven by the shifting focus of end-use markets from defect detection to defect prevention. These developments are expected to create opportunities for sophisticated AOI equipment.

The industry is segmented on the basis of product, type, application and technology. By product type, the market is classified as lighting, imaging, and associated data storage products. Further the technology segment is divided into the in-circuit test, joint test action group (JTAG), automated X-ray inspection, surface-mount technology, and functional testing. On the basis of the equipment type used, the market is classified as closed or open, stand-alone or inline, and combined AOI systems. Furthermore, application segment segregates the market into aerospace, automotive, medical, industrial, semiconductor manufacturing, consumer electronics, agricultural, and defense applications.

Leading players in the market are Daiichi Jitsugyo CO., LTD., GÖPEL electronic GmbH, GSI Group, Inc., Cyber Optics (U.S.), Omron Corporation, Zhejiang Ovi Technology Co., Ltd, LDC technology Inc. and Shenzhen JT Automation Equipment Co., Ltd.

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Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) Equipment Market