Advantech Acquires North American Image Capturing Solution Provider BitFlow
Advantech (TWSE: 2395), a global leader in Industrial IoT, announced the cash acquisition of an 100% equity stake in BitFlow, Inc., a North American company dedicated to high-end image acquisition and AI machine vision technology. Looking forward, Advantech will further develop BitFlow's market foundation, comprehensive product range, and core technologies in high speed image acquisition. They will also actively explore the global business opportunities of AI machine vision through Advantech's long-established global branding, its global business infrastructure, and extensive customer service network.
The evolution of advanced AI computer vision has seen more and more AI technologies getting implemented into niche field applications. Especially in the field of visual inspection for product quality control, which heavily relied on human inspection, but nowadays 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 said, “The application of advanced computer vision has been highly integrated with AI solutions. Over the last three years in particular, strong growth in industrial AI has become much more evident. However, in the past, Advantech mainly focused on applications for traditional machine vision equipment, providing industrial-grade cameras and frame grabber cards to meet the basic needs of production inspection. But, as the industry moves towards high-end machine vision applications, such as for advanced semiconductor manufacturing and medical imaging, Advantech will need to supplement high-end image acquisition products to fulfill the demands for high-precision advanced vision inspection.”
Mr. Pao further commented that 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, Advantech decided the time was right to acquire BitFlow, hoping to expand its offering of advanced industrial computer vision products and markets through BitFlow’s high speed image acquisition technology and further creating market growth and synergy in the AI and imaging fields. In addition, BitFlow has the advantage of using "Made in USA" on their products, which 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, talked about the acquisition. “The choice to cooperate with Advantech was based on several key factors, including 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 Mr. 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 Advantech’s 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. Sales and after-sales services will be integrated into Advantech’s global network and AI and image processing product lines. The ultimate goal is to become one of the top three AI vision leaders globally.