Advantech Co., Ltd. acquires BitFlow, Inc., a North American company dedicated to high-end image acquisition and AI machine vision technology. The all-cash transaction involves the buyout of 100% equity stake in BitFlow. Looking forward, it will further develop BitFlow’s market foundation, comprehensive product range, and core technologies in high-speed image acquisition. Also, they will actively explore the global business opportunities of AI machine vision. They will leverage the company’s long-established global branding, its global business infrastructure, and its extensive customer service network.
The evolution of advanced AI computer vision has seen more and more AI technologies getting implemented into niche field applications. This is especially true in the field of visual inspection for product quality control, which heavily relies on human inspection. However, nowadays it is mostly done by AI-assisted visual inspection. Thus, the automated inspection process is now more accurate and precise, which reduces labor costs and improves production yields.
Magic Pao, Associate Vice President of Industrial Cloud & Video Group at Advantech, said, “The application of advanced computer vision has been highly integrated with AI solutions. Over the last three years, strong growth in industrial AI has become much more evident. However, in the past, Advantech mainly focused on applications for traditional machine vision equipment. Along this line, it provided industrial-grade cameras and frame grabber cards to meet the basic needs of production inspection. Meanwhile, the industry is now moving towards high-end machine vision applications, such as advanced semiconductor manufacturing and medical imaging. Thus, Advantech will need to supplement high-end image acquisition products to fulfill the demands for high-precision advanced vision inspection.”
According to Pao, to meet the needs of high-end industrial machine vision applications in the industry, Advantech has developed solutions such as AI cameras, edge AI systems, AI servers and specialist application software (iApp). However, as the trends in AI smart applications and regional manufacturing continue to grow, the company decided the time was right to acquire BitFlow.
Accordingly, it hopes to expand its offering of advanced industrial computer vision products and markets through BitFlow’s high-speed image acquisition technology. Also, it aims to further create market growth and synergy in the AI and imaging fields. In addition, BitFlow has the advantage of using “Made in USA” on its products. This will strengthen Advantech’s already strong presence in the AI software development and high-precision vision inspection market across North America.
Avner Butnaru, CEO of BitFlow, said, “The choice to cooperate with Advantech was based on several key factors. This includes Advantech’s well-known global brand presence in machine vision applications in North America, as well as its global industrial hardware supply capabilities and complete after-sale support and services. Advantech’s manufacturing capability is also crucial to BitFlow and this is extremely important in the vision inspection market. In addition, because of similar corporate cultures, the impact on customers brought about by the integration of Advantech and BitFlow will be greatly reduced.”
BitFlow believes that, through the combination of its AI visual imaging technology and Advantech’s R&D, sales and manufacturing capabilities, BitFlow products will play a much greater role in the AI vision market,” said Butnaru.
With the help of BitFlow, Advantech will complement its high-end visual inspection product lines and enable more efficient GPU computing and AI vision applications. The acquisition will also strengthen its realization of its GICC/GIRC (Globally Integrated of Corporate Competencies/ Regional Competence, GICC/GIRC) strategies for cultivating local talent and manufacturing excellence.
After the merger between the two parties, the original BitFlow product R&D team and Advantech’s North American business development team will work together to develop products and solutions for the AI vision market. Advantech’s global network will integrate sales and after-sales and AI and image processing product lines. Ultimately, the goal is to become one of the top three AI vision leaders globally.