How to Make Machine Vision a Viable Option for More Manufacturers

What manufacturers will expect from machine vision and fixed industrial scanning systems.

manufacturing-automation

Legacy industrial automation systems can be difficult to use, complex to manage, even harder to scale, and the user interface is anything but friendly. But most machine vision specialists already know this, as they’ve been trying to help manufacturers fit the specific needs of each factory and operational function.

What’s not common knowledge (yet) is that these highly involved difficult-to-setup systems are on the way out the door.

Manufacturers have become more reliant on machine vision and fixed industrial scanning solutions as supply chains contract, expectations for quality increase and labor becomes scarce. Industrial automation is only beneficial if it reduces the burden on assembly staff and IT teams while providing higher yield, more throughput, and better quality. Legacy machine visions systems have proved they cannot deliver easily, as they are inflexible and difficult to setup and deploy.

Manufacturers need solutions that are simple to implement and use but incredibly effective at solving complex scanning applications or conducting inline inspection of parts and components. At the same time, solution integrators (SIs) need tools that make it easy to deploy automation solutions for manufacturers.

So, keep an eye out for new industrial automation solutions that unify machine vision and fixed industrial scanning components – and overall system management – on one software platform. They are the gateway to simplicity for both manufacturers and SIs and will lead to increased adoption of this technology.

Flexible Software Upgrade Capabilities – No New Hardware Needed

Not all manufacturing sites are made the same. They each have their own needs, goals, protocols, and workflows. Therefore, automation tools that only provide for single-use applications are often less desirable. Manufacturers need solutions that can handle high-speed sortation, instantaneously verify the status of inspected items, and increase information processing power to meet production demands. In addition, there will be times when a device’s functionality needs to be switched from scanning to inspection. The software must be able to adapt to these shifts in a few simple steps, and workers must be able to execute updates without much guidance.

That’s why it is important to look beyond manufacturers’ current track and trace or automated inspection capabilities and consider whether the fixed industrial scanning and machine vision systems driving these actions are expandable and flexible enough to remain beneficial as sites flex and operations scale. That can only be determined by looking closely at the software that underpins each system.

If the software can’t be adapted to the organizations’ changing needs on a day-by-day basis, the whole system loses its value and effectiveness. Manufacturers must be able to refine quality control, process control, and track and trace applications without having to replace an entire fleet of hardware each time.

So, engineers have found a way to reimagine the industrial automation hardware ecosystem to allow smart cameras, intelligent sensors, and advanced barcode scanners to run on the same software platform. They have also designed both machine vision and fixed industrial scanning systems to be field upgradeable using a simple licensing structure.  The shared software interface and licensable features can flex in many ways to support seamless changes on the manufacturing line, extending the viability of the entire solution.

Infusing Ease into Every Piece of the Process

Imagine the easiest user interface and functionality possible. Now make it even easier. That’s what today’s manufacturers are looking for in industrial automation systems as they look to appease a new generation of workers and customers.

Machine vision developers and other front-line workers want intuitive, quick-to-learn technologies with modern user interfaces that tell them what to do. Decision-making is hard and fraught with error, and they want to be good at their jobs – not the reason why the line was stopped, a recall issued, finished goods had errors, or process control teams had to implement workarounds.

That’s why SIs must work with industrial automation technology providers and customers to design solutions that put ease of use above all else. It’s the only way to make machine vision and fixed industrial scanning solutions accessible to all workers and applicable to more workflows – ensuring manufacturers rush to adopt- not abandon – industrial automation for good.

To learn more about the benefits of modern industrial automation technologies for manufacturers and the solution providers supporting them, click here.

Matt Van Bogart

Matt Van Bogart is a 20 year veteran of the industrial imaging and machine vision market and is responsible for global channel strategy for Industrial Automation at Zebra.


Matt Van Bogart is a 20 year veteran of the industrial imaging and machine vision market and is responsible for global channel strategy for Industrial Automation at Zebra.