Blaize and Accton’s New Partnership and Offering Sends Them into an Already Competitive Manufacturing Software Market

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By James Prestwood | 4Q 2022 | IN-6705

Blaize and Accton are making a surprising move to join the manufacturing software market with the release of their visual inspection software solution, Accton Smart Automated Optical Inspection (AOI). They join an already competitive market, and to be successful, they will need to lean in heavily on their Unique Selling Point (USP), the increased efficiency that comes from running software on chips designed for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Other companies with more of a legacy background in manufacturing should lean into their manufacturing vertical experience in terms of how they position their product against this new entrant.

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New Partnership and Product


Blaize, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) chipset company recently announced a strategic partnership with Accton, a networking and solutions company, to bring a new automated software product to market. Blaize’s Pathfinder P1600 Embedded System on Module (SOM) chipset will support the new Accton Smart Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) solution, and allow AI-enabled assembly and product inspection to improve manufacturers’ quality management and support digital transformation goals. Accton Technology, founded in 1988, provides and manufactures a wide range of edge network hardware and solutions, and has a significant global reach. Prior to the partnership, Blaize, founded in 2010, focused on offering edge AI chips to the automotive, smart retail, and industrial sectors.

The Use of Visual Inspection Software


AI-supported visual inspection software is being increasingly sought by manufacturers looking to improve their quality control and digital transformation of their production processes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers are keen to employ labor-saving technologies, as the market continues to struggle with worker shortages. The AI-based software offered by Accton and Blaize is far more effective than manual inspection and legacy machine vision-based inspection software. AI enables the software to be more adaptable to the introduction of new products and can identify discrepancies in their quality far more accurately and at a faster pace. This is particularly important to manufacturers in highly-regulated industries, such as aerospace and defense, pharmaceutical and life sciences, and automotive.

Unique Selling Point (USP) is Key for Competitive Software Markets


This partnership is interesting, as it represents a move by a chipset and network solutions company into an already busy manufacturing software market. This market is likely to see continued robust growth of the coming years, as ABI Research’s Commercial and Industrial Machine Vision market data (MD-CIVM-101) forecasts the total installed base of AI-enabled cameras as increasing from 473 million in 2022 to 976.4 million in 2027, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.59%.

Blaize is not the only chip manufacturer that has moved into this industrial inspection space, using its Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) to offer similar AI-based inspection, notably working with Seagate and supporting anomaly detection in its manufacturing process. Furthermore, companies like Intel and Qualcomm are also offering such solutions. Intel currently deploys an AI solution with John Deere that uses computer vision to automatically spot defects in the automated welding process. Other large companies have also made big investments in this market; earlier this year, Zebra acquired Matrox Imaging for US$875 million to expand its own offering in the automation and vision technology solution space (read more in ABI Insight “Zebra Advances Machine Vision Posture with Matrox Imaging Acquisition.” This market also includes a number of smaller players, including Bytronic, Keyence, and Smartia. Even Google is offering a visual inspection AI solution.

Overall, it is easy to see that the new Blaize/Accton partnership is not joining a market with little to no competition. In order for this venture to be successful, the AOI solution will have to offer a strong USP and, most importantly, ensure that manufacturers understand the differentiator. The companies are currently positioning this USP as the chipset on which the software runs, Blaize’s P1600 SOM, which offers an energy-efficient high-processing power, and the fact that AI chipsets are often far more efficient at running and training AI-based algorithms than standard Central Processing Unit (CPU) and GPU chips. Other companies, such as Zebra, which may have more of a legacy customer base in manufacturing, may use this as their USP, highlighting that they understand the needs of the customer far more intimately.