03/27/2015

Digimarc Barcode - The Next Big Thing for Retail?

Word about Digimarc’s digital watermark for consumer products or the “invisible barcode” as they’re calling it, is starting to get around. A technology company based in Oregon, Digimarc is renowned for its digital watermarking and identification solutions used in global currency, government IDs, television, and publishing. The company is now focused on expanding its presence into the retail front-of-store with its barcode alternative. Without getting too technical, Digimarc takes a traditional UPC barcode, makes it invisible to the naked eye, and puts it all over the packaging of a product. The camera-based imager being used to scan the items at the front-end of a retail store quickly picks up this imperceptible digital information and allows the check-out process to be completed in record breaking times. Digimarc claims that this new technology not only clears up space on the product label, but also increases check-out efficiency thereby enabling retailers to significantly increase revenues and enhance operational efficiencies at the front-of-store. Digimarc is committed to transforming customer experience at the retail front-of-store. At the starting price of $400 per SKU (with an additional maintenance fee of $50 per year), they look to provide outstanding ROI to any retailer deciding to use this new technology.

At the 2014 NRF event, Digimarc announced its partnership with Datalogic, the global market leader in the stationary point-of-sale scanner segment. Datalogic first integrated the technology to scan Digimarc’s invisible barcodes into their Magellan 9800i multi-plane imager. Since then, Datalogic has extended the ability to capture information off Digimarc barcodes onto every imager they currently sell across both stationary as well as handheld form factors. When retail companies purchase these imagers from Datalogic, utilizing the features to scan Digimarc barcodes will be as easy as “flipping a switch.”

Wegmans, a popular large-scale grocery store chain, was Digimarc’s first retail customer. Being a Datalogic customer, Wegmans has started by incorporating the Digimarc barcode onto its private label brands, which its in-store imagers are now fully equipped to read. Although the retailer won’t release specific statistical performance data, it claims that it has added “a lot of value” to its front-of-store operations. At the 2015 NRF convention, the Digimarc booth had a representative from Wegmans endorsing Digimarc’s technology – a clear indication that Wegmans is satisfied with the performance of these invisible barcodes, and that it is adding value to the grocery stores.

From a quick glance at Digimarc, it looks like the company is on its way to success and profitability. However, VDC sees the company facing some challenges as well along the road. A sharp decline in one of their largest sources of revenue (licenses) has had a significant impact on Digimarc’s financial performance. 2014 was also the year when Digimarc spent more than 50% of its overall revenues on R&D to enhance and the support the launch of its Digimarc Barcode product, among others. This had a material impact on the company’s share price, which has gone down more than 30% from a year-ago period. VDC believes the company will alleviate these financial challenges in time as revenues from Digimarc Barcode and other products offset the decline in licensing sales. In the near-term, a bigger challenge for the company is the relative under-penetration of camera-based imagers at the retail POS for facilitating check-out within high-volume environments. For the moment, Digimarc has only one large scale retail customer, which brings to the forefront the challenges associated with bringing to market a potentially revolutionary product identification solution. In addition, VDC also expects numerous retailers to ask the question “Is there a need for this technology?” Sure, it has been proven that this technology will offer a good ROI overtime but large retail and CPG companies, and even packagers have to run their own cost benefit analysis to figure out if the invisible barcode is worth the investment.

As with anything, it is definitely possible to overcome these above-mentioned challenges. Digimarc has to continue to prove that their technology is revolutionary and that it will transform, perhaps forever, the front-of-store experience. It will gain increased consideration once retailers and CPG companies (and their packagers) are able to quantify the value that the Digimarc Barcode will add to their business. Until then, Digimarc has to continue to play the waiting game.

Stay tuned for VDC’s deeper dive on Digimarc and its Invisible Barcode, which will be published next month.

With Alex Bailey, Research Assistant

03/19/2015

Zebra Technologies 2014 Earnings Snapshot

Yesterday, Zebra Technologies announced its 2014 Q4 and full year earnings. It was notably the first quarter since the acquisition in which Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business unit was integrated with the company. VDC’s qualitative analysis of the most compelling comments made by the Zebra leadership team in the earnings call can be found in yesterday’s blog. This post will discuss some of the key AIDC-centric highlights from the call.

  • The company reported total GAAP sales of $791 million, $315 million of which was attributed to Zebra Technologies and $476 million to the company’s new Enterprise segment during the two months of 2014 that Zebra owned it. Treasurer and VP Investor Relations Douglas A. Fox reported high gross margins and an adjusted EBITDA margin of 18.2% for Q4. Fox also stated that high operating expenses could be largely attributed to $66 million in acquisition and restructuring costs from the Enterprise segment. Zebra expects Q1 2015 net sales to fall within the $870 to $890 million range.
  • Zebra’s CEO Anders Gustafsson stated that this quarter brought a 14% sequential increase in pro forma sales from the Enterprise segment. The company’s printer segment also grew substantially, with increases in mobile and tabletop sales as well as record shipments of desktop printers. The supplies segment, which includes media consumables, also experienced record sales.
  • Gustafsson notes in the call that 2014 was a year of expansion for Zebra’s data capture business segment, penetrating the market for 2D imagers in addition to laser scanners. The MP6000 bioptic imager is specifically mentioned as a popular product among customers for its productivity and cost savings. 2014 also brought an addition of 12 new printer offerings dedicated primarily to mobility, healthcare and RFID encoding.
  • Gustafsson concluded his prepared remarks with Zebra’s business direction and goals for 2015. Such objectives included further penetration into the supplies segment and integration of the Enterprise segment to ultimately achieve $150 million in cost synergies. A notable 2015 business opportunity highlighted by Zebra leadership was cross-selling; for example, Zebra was able to provide one large printer customer in North America with an additional 1,600 mobile computers and over 500 scanners.
  • In the Q&A portion of the call, the transition from laser to 2D imager was discussed. Gustafsson noted that the acquisition of Motorola’s Enterprise segment does not change Zebra’s views on scanning technology. According to Gustafsson, 1D laser will continue to be the historical, traditional scanner; however, demand for increased functionality has been influencing a migration to 2D imager in all vertical markets. This migration is reflected in the growth of Zebra’s imager segment.
  • Integrated solutions stood out as a key takeaway in the Q&A segment. Senior VP of Sales Joachim Heel noted that the Zebra sales force will this year begin intensive training to effectively integrate Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise products with Zebra printers. Heel is confident that this level of cross-selling would have a positive impact in 2015.

The call ended in a positive tone, reflecting Zebra leadership’s confidence in its market standing as well as optimism about business opportunities for 2015.

 

With Kelly Brown, Research Assistant

03/16/2015

VDC Research-Loftware Present Joint Webinar on Enterprise Labeling

On Thursday, March 26th, VDC’s Richa Gupta will co-present a webinar with Loftware’s Josh Roffman, Vice President Marketing and Product Management, where they will discuss why labeling is a strategic imperative in today’s global supply chains. This presentation is a follow-up to the comprehensive white paper co-authored by the two firms in December, titled “Enterprise Labeling – A Supply Chain Strategic Imperative”. You can download this special report here.

Webinar attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the many benefits associated with enterprise labeling including the ability to easily address organizations’ diverse and highly variable labeling requirements, comply with complex labeling mandates and regulations, and provide the speed and scalability to support global supply chains.

Topics discussed in the webinar include:

  • What is Enterprise Labeling?
  • How has labeling become a mission-critical component in today’s global supply chain?
  • Approaches for addressing global labeling challenges

REGISTER NOW for this informative webinar.

Thursday, March 26th – 1pm EST (12noon CST, 10am PST)

02/06/2015

Here’s what makes Datalogic’s latest partnership with NCR interesting

On February 3, data capture industry veteran Datalogic announced that it has entered into a multi-year agreement with retail solutions behemoth NCR Corporation for the supply of its Jade X7™ Automated Scanner. I have seen these at the NRF show – designed to facilitate automated scanning and checkout at high-volume retail locations. The products are placed on a moving conveyor belt in any orientation, and are then scanned by multiple array imagers as they move through a “tunnel,” easing the checkout process for both the attendant/cashier as well as the customer.

NCR will be integrating Datalogic’s Jade X7 into its ScanPortal™, which will be showcased at EuroCIS in Germany toward the end of this month. With an aim to free the cashier from having to scan individual items, this option is expected to yield significantly higher checkout speeds while also promoting extensive customer engagement. NCR brings its integration and POS solution design expertise into this partnership, and also leverages Datalogic’s credentials as the leader in the fixed-position or hands-free POS scanner market. The fully integrated solution’s launch at the European retail technology-centric show also lays emphasis on the region’s continued need for technology enablers that will help trim down high labor-related costs and thereby have a positive impact on overall profitability margins. That said, this solution is also generating interest in the US market as well.

What makes this announcement especially interesting to me is its potential impact on the competitive landscape for stationary POS scanners, if any. While the two companies are essentially neck-and-neck when it comes to bioptic scanner hardware revenues per our most recent report on the POS scanner market (download Executive Brief here), this partnership could open the doors for a deeper and more comprehensive collaboration in the future that extends beyond barcode scanning and data capture. Datalogic has a very strong relationship with one of NCR’s biggest competitors, European retail automation solutions provider Wincor Nixdorf – a company that has already designed checkout stations around this “tunnel” scanner.

I believe NCR will benefit from this partnership with Datalogic especially as it looks to better address the in-store automation demands of its retail customers in US and Europe (including Tesco), as discussed earlier. Although Datalogic and NCR cannot necessarily share a rapport similar to that between the former and Wincor, there is significant opportunity here for the two organizations to collectively redefine the retail point-of-sale, particularly in the Americas – with NCR capitalizing on Datalogic’s imaging expertise, and Datalogic leveraging NCR’s proficiency in designing and building the ultimate checkout experience for retail customers.

01/14/2015

NRF 2015 Musings – Is the show far too out of touch with reality?

I am back from spending an interesting couple of days at the NRF Expo in New York City. This annual event is, of course, all about retail. It is all about vendors showcasing technologies and solution capabilities that ease retailers’ everyday operations, helping them get their products to the right customer at the right time and the right price. Omnichannel has been an industry buzzword for several years at this point and one that several vendors showcasing their products at this forum have latched on to. Retailing today has morphed into something that places just as much importance to the distribution center and logistics partner as it does to the retail store. Why, then, were warehouse automation solution providers like Dematic, KNAPP AG, and Swisslog missing from the show floor? Why was Intelligrated the only material handling company with a booth at the show? Is the event doing enough to attract the attention of logistics service providers like FedEx and UPS that are now integral to customers’ shopping experience?

The NRF event is held annually right when statistics from the holiday shopping season start rolling in. While these numbers from a few years ago may have been all about in-store stocking and inventory management, foot traffic at the malls, and consumer spending, the discussion now centers on retailers’ and logistics providers’ ability to fulfill online orders on time. There is also a need to talk more about returns management, especially after the holiday shopping season. As has been widely reported, both FedEx and UPS, along with the retailers they service, faced significant consumer backlash during the 2013 holiday shopping season as order deliveries were marked by considerable delays. Businesses were simply not prepared for the surge of online orders and freight volumes that flooded their ecommerce and delivery networks. VDC considers it imperative for such issues to take center stage at the biggest and most important retail event of all.

All said and done, this show continues to do one thing well. And that is having the critical discussion around retail shopfloor performance optimization – from a technology standpoint, pricing perspective, for planogramming, and generating analytics that help define consumer behavior. I believe there is a need to do more so NRF doesn’t lose its way and get too far out of touch with reality, for which the following are our top recommendations:

  • Do not equate the retail distribution center to the “back office” It is important to not let the show be only about in-store technologies, inventory management, and business intelligence. The way the consumer shopping trends are shaping up, retailers would much rather see how solution providers can now support with their demand fulfillment requirements – both online and offline – while also helping them achieve their strategic goals and objectives for this fast-changing landscape.
  • Make the show attractive for companies like Amazon.com, JD.com, and Alibaba to attend This is probably my biggest critique of the show. What is this event doing today to attract some of the world’s largest e-commerce retailers? Is a retail-focused show in the US really successful if it cannot attract Amazon.com?
  • Engage material handling solution providers and their logistics customers The show needs to move beyond the “omnichannel” catchphrase to something that’s more all-inclusive because not only is it about where a customer places their order from, but also about how retailers fulfill the same in collaboration with their partners who are now critical to the overall retail ecosystem. Warehouse and logistics automation are themes that are not addressed nearly enough at this show.

While it is not going to be possible to bring about such change in the near term, I hope this is something show organizers give considerable thought to especially as they look to keep it relevant and also attract a broader global audience. I will be posting another blog on some of what I did see and learn about at the show from a data capture market perspective. Stay tuned!

12/19/2014

Honeywell Gobbles Up Yet another AutoID Industry Veteran

Honeywell signed a definitive agreement to acquire Datamax-O’Neil (D-O) on December 18, 2014 for $185 million, with the transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2015 subject to regulatory approval. Ok, so we knew D-O was a prime acquisition target (see our blog). But, we did not see this coming, having expected Datalogic to snap up the company all along. Honeywell acquired Intermec Technologies in a similar end-of-the-year deal back in 2012, and we have since speculated what their plans were for the company’s printer business, both in our reports as well as blogs. This latest acquisition only serves to cement Honeywell’s commitment to the barcode printer market.

D-O has successfully competed against the likes of Zebra and Intermec for several years now, carving its own niche in the manufacturing and logistics markets. However, the company has seen significant sales growth slowdown in the past 24 months, with its 2013 performance in the printer market staying relatively flat as compared to 2012. To combat the trend, this division of the highly diversified manufacturing conglomerate Dover Corporation, has also focused its efforts on a broad-based reorganization of its top management, as is evident by the company’s recent appointments to head up its Stationary Printers, Portable Printers, ad Supplies business units. VDC believes D-O’s executive management deemed it necessary to make these changes as it was faced by revenue stagnation while also underperforming the overall market. This had a negative impact on its R&D spending and product development, which have been D-O’s strong suit in the highly commoditized printer market. Being a part of a broader AutoID-focused organization could certainly help the company achieve its growth targets.

While this acquisition unquestionably strengthens Honeywell’s printer and supplies portfolios, the company has its work cut out for it as it looks to integrate the D-O brand into its own, a task Honeywell is very well-versed with. Will it follow an approach similar to the one it has going for Intermec’s printer line (Intermec by Honeywell)? Or will we see D-O’s offerings fully integrated with Intermec given the similar markets that these brands target? We will know soon enough.

11/21/2014

Big Data Driven Decision Making – Brought to you by AutoID Solutions

Big data is a topic generating significant interest among AIDC industry veterans. Barcoding technology is making a wealth of information available to organizations. Defined generally, big data is simply a set of data too large to be stored and managed using traditional processes. Oracle breaks down big data into three general categories: traditional enterprise data, social data, and machine-generated and/or sensor data. Data capture technology contributes to the collection of this third category of data—machine-generated data – especially in retail, logistics, and supply chain environments.

This generic definition does not identify the specific advantages that big data brings to the supply chain. Big data is important in the modern connected world as the collection of ‘nontraditional’ data increases; information vital to accurate business decision-making can be found not only in transactional data collection methods, but even more so in imagers, machine vision, sensors, and scanners. The machines that produce these nontraditional data sets are now more than ever connected to one another in what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT allows for continuous, real-time data transactions between devices such as barcode scanners and mobile computers.

In many ways, data capture solutions are facilitating the big data phenomenon that then helps streamline operational processes. For example, FedEx’s SenseAware platform combines location solutions (GPS) with temperature readings and real-time notifications if a shipment has been opened or exposed to light. FedEx is able to analyze these data sets in order to rectify inefficiencies that would have been left unidentified had the data not been available. The IoT uses AIDC technology to provide continuous real-time data in all parts of the supply chain, facilitating optimization. When combined with big-data-driven platforms such as SenseAware, scanners and sensors can be used to assure visibility, traceability and quality control at all steps in the supply chain. These traits contribute to successful short-term and long-term business decisions.

There are undoubtedly challenges in managing big data, particularly with respect to AIDC technology. Data capture is not the same concept now as it was ten years ago. What started out as just barcode scanning has now evolved into capturing a variety of nontraditional data types. Solution providers have to work twice as much to live up to expectations as clients place frequent demands for multipurpose scanners and software that support a range of data capture functions, not limited to simple track-and-trace. This leads into the next challenge that participants in the supply chain face. Big data is only as useful as the way in which it is analyzed and presented; so, how does one integrate all of these vastly different types of data sets together in a meaningful way?

For end users, the issue (and the solution) is in the analytics. Companies such as FedEx are now hiring ‘data scientists.’ These professionals specialize in analyzing and presenting big data in a way that contributes to effective decision-making. Any firm seeking to use big data to its advantage will need to invest in a specified team of data scientists for this purpose.

The future of the AIDC market will depend on participants’ ability to address these prevalent issues head-on. As data volume and variety are continuously increasing, it is no longer enough for a scanner to read a barcode. Data capture solutions providers will need to innovate and make investments in solution development that goes beyond hardware in order to meet increasing demands of today’s connected, big-data-driven IoT world.

(By Kelly Brown, Research Assistant)

10/24/2014

Barcode Scanning – Now More about Software than Ever Before

At VDC, we believe the BYOD trend in enterprise environments has far-reaching consequences even on the barcode scanner market, particularly the handheld form factor. As discussed in an earlier blog, Scandit, a mobile image processing and cloud computing software vendor headquartered in Zurich, has developed a platform that enables retailers and consumers to use smartphones and other consumer devices to facilitate enterprise-grade barcode scanning. Founded in 2009, Scandit’s clientele now includes retailers like  Ahold, Coop, Homeplus (Tesco), PartyCity, and Saks Fifth Avenue among others. Their software platform also provides features such as cloud services and the ability to easily perform software updates and maintenance. Using a device’s built-in camera Scandit’s software platform allows for camera-based barcode scanning at any angle and with high read rates. In October 2014, the company released its Mobile App Suite for retail, with a series of customizable, cross-platform mobile applications for retail sales associates and consumers. This suite includes application templates for Mobile Shopping (mShopping), Self-Checkout, Shopping List, Clienteling, Procurement, and Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS). Each of these templates currently contains a combination of several modules: Product Data Cache, List Management, User Management, Barcode Scanner, Analytics, Push Notifications, Sharing, and Payment.

While Scandit recognizes that traditional handheld scanners and enterprise-grade mobile devices may be more rugged and durable as compared to smartphones or tablets, the company also points out that there are many different types of sleeves available in the market that can protect these devices from drops and other types of damage. Scandit believes this will allow its solutions to be seamlessly integrated into industries beyond retail such as logistics and manufacturing. In the world of retail, mobile-assisted shopping and mobile self-scanning are becoming very popular trends. Scandit’s platform allows customers shopping at brick-and-mortar retail locations to use their own personal devices to scan items while they shop, thereby saving time and also cutting costs for the retailer.

Scandit’s market presence and innovative software-based approach has helped the company establish itself as one of the leaders in the self-scanning market, but it is certainly not the only one in this space. Manatee Works and Re-Vision B.V. compete directly with Scandit with their own barcode scanner software development kits (SDKs), each bringing something unique to the table. At the other end of the spectrum, Infinite Peripherals produces hardware-based scanning accessories such as sleds and sleeves designed for iOS devices, which can read 1D and 2D codes and also read RFID tags. The company partners with numerous app developers to allow for easy integration with its hardware. However, unlike Infinite Peripherals only provides scanning accessories for iOS devices. These platform developers’ emphasis on software rather than hardware will allow them extend into the world of wearable devices and augmented reality. At VDC, we believe wearable devices represent the future of AIDC in warehousing and logistics by enabling workers to perform order picking, storage and retrieval, and pallet organization more quickly and with greater accuracy. Having warehouse “pickers” utilize wearable technologies rather than handheld devices would also allow them to more easily perform tasks using both arms. Wearable augmented reality devices will also allow delivery personnel to have access to maps and directions right in front of their eyes, all without the added hassle of having to carry handheld GPS devices along with the package itself.

Enterprise technology budget allocation is no longer restricted to purpose-built devices with traditional form factors. Companies like Infinite Peripherals and Scandit are changing the way these organizations distribute their data capture solution investments, particularly in low scanning volume environments. VDC will stay on top of this trend as the market evolves. Watch this space.

09/24/2014

More AutoID Industry Consolidation on the Horizon - Who's Next?

How will the final quarter of 2014 shape up for the AutoID and Data Capture industry? Can the market accommodate or even handle one more acquisition? I believe it can. In this blog, I will highlight my top picks for:

  • The company most likely to make an acquisition
  • The company (or business division) most likely to be acquired

The AIDC market has had a rather interesting 18 to 24 months with some big name acquisitions. First, there was Honeywell’s acquisition of Intermec Technologies. When this deal closed in September of last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) placed conditions on this proposed merger, taking issue with the competitive impact of this merger on the 2D barcode OEM scan engine market. In order to ensure that Motorola Solutions and Honeywell are not, essentially, the only vendors competing in the US market for this product category, the FTC afforded Italy-based Datalogic the choice of licensing Intermec’s 2D scan engine patents for the next 12 years. That aside, Honeywell now became involved in the development, manufacture, sale and integration of all core AIDC technologies (barcode scanners, barcode printers, RFID, rugged mobile computers, etc.), giving enterprises with AIDC solution requirements a “one stop shop” alternative.

And then there was Zebra Technologies’ rather unexpected acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business unit in April, 2014 for $3.45 billion. This deal continues to remain subject to regulatory approval, although VDC does not anticipate any issues here. Zebra has now gained direct entry into the broader AIDC market, making it a one-stop-shop much like Honeywell. In addition to its leadership position in the thermal label printer market, Zebra inherits Motorola’s leadership position in rugged handheld computing and barcode scanning, segmented entirely complementary to Zebra’s existing solutions portfolio. However, the deal does have us wondering. To what extent was its timing influenced by longtime Zebra partner Honeywell’s acquisition of Intermec and the addition of their printers to Honeywell’s solutions portfolio, rendering its partnership with Zebra essentially unnecessary?

No, I do not expect either of these companies to jump in and make another acquisition anytime soon. The industry veteran I am looking at is Datalogic, part of the “big 3” in the AIDC space, together with Honeywell and Motorola Solutions. The company last made an acquisition towards the end of 2011 when it bought Accusort from Danaher Corporation. Along similar lines, I would not be surprised if Datalogic considered acquiring Datamax-O’Neil (D-O), the printer division of Dover Corporation, a highly diversified manufacturing conglomerate. Datalogic was rumored to be very interested in buying Intermec Technologies. However, the purchase price ended up being too rich for them.

D-O is one of the leaders in the thermal printer market, with strong stationary and portable portfolios. Datalogic is now the only one of the big 3 to which the “one throat to choke” market paradigm does not apply. By acquiring D-O, Datalogic will not only own a comprehensive printer portfolio, but will also have a full solution suite to offer to its industrial automation partner and customer base. D-O’s mobile printer suite will also serve Datalogic well as it sells its mobile computers and scanners into retail and professional service environments.

In the past year, Datalogic has frequently emphasized on its focus on the industrial and logistics verticals. With a sharp focus on product innovation and feature support, D-O is boosting its position in manufacturing and transportation, while also, more importantly, extending its reach into non-industrial markets. The company’s performance in its core hardware category has stagnated in the past two years. Could being part of an AIDC industry behemoth help turn its fortunes?

From VDC’s perspective, a one-stop-shop approach does not necessarily give one company an edge over the other anymore. No data capture vendor is immune to growing enterprise investments in consumer devices, which is essentially taking away from their AutoID budgets. However, such an acquisition would, at the very least, help Datalogic get back on par with its two largest competitors in this market in terms of solution offerings. And that should be enough for now.

08/06/2014

Factory of the Future and Where Machine Vision Solutions Fit In

I am posting this blog from the Austin Convention Center, home to NIWeek 2014, National Instruments’ rather elaborate annual partner conference. It has been an interesting two days for me at the event, where I’ve had the opportunity to gain some insight into the company’s (embedded) vision for the future, both its own and that of the industries it serves.

NI’s keynote address from earlier this morning was particularly noteworthy and thought-provoking. With a goal to showcase its innovations and partner collaborations, National Instruments made its big picture pitch to a fairly captive audience by calling on stage some of the company’s strategic partners and customers such as Airbus, National Grid and Intel, to name a few. Given my coverage focus on the data capture and machine vision solutions markets, the presentation segment that caught my attention was all the talk surrounding the Industrial Internet of Things and NI’s collaboration with Airbus in building the “factory of the future”. It is essential to note that the growing need for factory automation and systems integration is bringing down silos like never before. Sensors, actuators, and other components are not the whole in itself, but essential parts of the overall embedded system that addresses mission critical application requirements.

The same is true with machine vision cameras. While they continue to become increasingly important to the automation solution, their use for isolated applications will not be what drives adoption and use. Cameras and vision sensors will help facilitate specific tasks (such as 100% quality control) and be part of the connected device paradigm within the manufacturing shopfloor, providing vision-based intelligence over digital networks that help design, produce and deliver high quality products cost-effectively. Industrial automation of the future will cease to be discrete in nature, evolving into a more software and analytics-driven operation that works optimally with input from a wide range of sources – leading to cost savings and improved performance.

I believe global manufacturing is bound to shift away from an “agile” and reactive model to one that leverages the millions of terabytes of data generated via sensors such as cameras to more accurately predict future production requirements. That, in a nutshell, is going to be the driving force behind the "factory of the future", where the solution itself is component-agnostic, but which makes use of the massive volumes of data to enhance operational efficiencies, minimize waste, and maximize production. In keeping with the theme, VDC Research recently published market estimates and forecasts for the global machine vision landscape (hardware, software, and services), expected to grow at more than 7% through 2018. Get in touch with us to learn more.

 

Recent Posts

Digimarc Barcode - The Next Big Thing for Retail?

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VDC Research-Loftware Present Joint Webinar on Enterprise Labeling

Here’s what makes Datalogic’s latest partnership with NCR interesting

NRF 2015 Musings – Is the show far too out of touch with reality?

Honeywell Gobbles Up Yet another AutoID Industry Veteran

Big Data Driven Decision Making – Brought to you by AutoID Solutions

Barcode Scanning – Now More about Software than Ever Before

More AutoID Industry Consolidation on the Horizon - Who's Next?

Factory of the Future and Where Machine Vision Solutions Fit In

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