A Zebra FS40 fixed industrial scanner on an electronic component production line
By Will Corns | August 18, 2022

Industrial Automation Insider: “The Biggest Thing Changing About Automation is Its Relevance”

Two global automation experts say supply chain leaders now see automation as foundational given hiring challenges but warn that you can’t automate in silos if you want to achieve your objectives.

Tradeshows are a great place to get tipped off to up and coming trends. That’s why I asked two automation experts what their biggest takeaways were from Automate, MODEX and other industry events that took place earlier this year in North America and Europe. I knew it would help us all level-set the hype we’re hearing about machine vision, fixed industrial scanning, RFID, and other industrial automation technologies.  

Here to help us separate fact from fiction about “the future of automation” is Laith Marmash and Graeme Badenoch, both of whom have made it clear that there is no future without automation – at least not in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, distribution, and warehousing environments. This isn’t their opinion; it’s the opinion of the global supply chain leaders with whom they’ve been speaking in recent months. (Though, they both agree automation is quickly becoming table stakes.) 

As they share in our latest episode of the Industrial Automation Insider podcast, two-thirds of warehouse operators say recruitment and retention are becoming big problems. So, if companies don’t automate certain tasks and decisions, or entire workflows, they’re going to lose their competitive edge.  

But that’s not necessarily what shocked us the most during 2022 industry gatherings. What Laith and I were most surprised to see was the embrace of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning applications. We never thought companies would be so quick to accept, much less experiment, with AI and deep learning for 3D or video applications. Graeme was both surprised and pleased to see decision-makers accept automation as a means to save sales.  

Tune into our 20-minute debrief now to learn more about: 

  • [5:41] How the recent explosion of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) at tradeshows are indicative of the changes we’re also going to see with industrial automation applications, in which AMRs are being utilized in tandem with machine vision and fixed industrial scanning systems to more extensively and efficiently automate workflows. 

  • [6:59] The industrial automation applications that are gaining traction now that companies are shifting from reactive modernization to proactive transformation, and why “holistic” solutions are the only type of solutions worth considering right now. 

  • [10:53] The underlying issues driving the urgency to automate across all sorts of companies of all sizes (beyond labor shortages) – and why automation is proving to be a universal solution to global problems. 

  • [13:36] How decision-makers plan to use machine vision to take care of some of the problems they’re facing today, whether they’ve used machine vision in the past or plan to deploy it for the first time in the next year.  

  • [14:46] What’s creating this perfect storm for machine vision adoption – and advanced use cases – to include the many different “cost” factors that are building confidence in the technology as a solution. 

  • [17:05] The real reasons why manufacturers, warehouse operators and others downstream in the supply chain are embracing AMRs in addition to more traditional industrial automation solutions and you should too (again, beyond labor challenges). 

  • [18:58] The one thing that was missing from many conversations around machine vision during the tradeshow circuit – or should I say, the one question many decision-makers were forgetting to ask solution providers and consultants such as Zebra.  

  • [20:39] The importance of site surveys with a trusted technology advisor before you commit to any industrial automation or robotics automation solution. (There are so many advancements occurring in the technology, and so many ways it can be applied. Without someone guiding you through the discovery and solution design process, you risk missing a huge opportunity to be a better solution or service provider to your customers.) 



About Our Guests:

  • Graeme Badenoch currently serves as the Industrial Automation Sales Director for Zebra Technologies in EMEA. He has over 20 years of experience in the technology sector, with specialized knowledge in IT, industrial automation, mobility, IoT, and consumer electronics. He previously held leadership, business development, and technical positions at Samsung Electronics, HP, T-Mobile International, 3UK, Nortel Networks and Refresh Mobile.

  • Laith Marmash currently leads Global Channel Strategy for Industrial Automation at Zebra. He also has over 20 years of experience in technology, with specialized expertise in print and apply, laser marking, inkjet printing and most recently, machine vision. He brings perspectives gained from designing and integrating production line solutions, to creating and delivering effective customer communications. Prior to joining Zebra, Laith’s career included engineering, sales and marketing roles at numerous B2B technology companies such as Videojet, Cognex and Stemmer Imaging.


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Will Corns
Will Corns

William Corns is the Senior North American Sales Manager for Fixed Industrial Scanning & Machine Vision at Zebra Technologies, leading a team of industrial automation experts and driving key conversations with customers about the value of industrial automation in today's challenging business environment. William joined Zebra in 2021 after selling his machine vision company that he founded in 2003. With nearly two decades of machine vision experience, William brings with him knowledge of complex vision systems, artificial intelligence, 3D scanning, robotics and integrated industrial automation workflows. Now he leads our team of Fixed Industrial Scanner & Machine Vision experts for Zebra. 

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