Zebra machine vision cameras are used to inspect electronic boards.
By Jim Witherspoon | July 05, 2023

Industrial Automation Insider: One Expert Explains How Machine Vision Systems are Changing – and How They’ll Change Your Perception of Your Business

Between the expanding capabilities of machine vision systems, maturity of deep learning OCR, and modularity of industrial automation systems, you have an opportunity to de-risk your operations and meet SLAs with ease.

It doesn’t seem like it has been that long since everyone was talking about the need for speed. “The only way to get more orders out the door is to move faster,” they would say. But you and I both know speed isn’t always the problem or solution. Yes, you need to increase throughput in your operation. But you can’t afford to sacrifice accuracy or control for the sake of speed. That’s why automation is so appealing.  

It reduces, and often eliminates, the risk of human error, which is what tends to slow down operations. Whenever a mistake is made, someone must stop whatever else they’re working on to make things right, which halts progress toward desired outcomes, such as getting more product out the door.  But as we’ve discussed before, automation by itself is not a solution. There are so many different ways to automate workflows, and there are too many opportunities to miss the mark by only automating certain parts of workflows.  

For example, automating material handling is great and necessary. But if you only automate that and leave visual inspections, inventory counts and decision-making up to people, you’re not going to be able to get as much done in a day – or get things done right the first time. That’s why industrial automation is becoming as vital to the success of your business as the barcode has long been to retail – whether you’re in manufacturing, transportation and logistics, or even healthcare. You must be able to meet service level agreements without sacrificing margin. 

Fortunately, there is a growing number of ways that machine vision and imaging systems are directly influencing those capabilities.  

That’s why I asked Andy Zosel to join me for our latest Industrial Automation Insider podcast episode.  


Andy just joined Zebra as Senior Vice President of Advanced Data Capture and Machine Vision & Imaging (ADC/MVI), which is a very big deal for Zebra, our customers and our partners. He has spent the last 25 years overseeing engineering and manufacturing for Omron Americas while also leading Delta Tau, a family of motion control hardware and software products, and machine vision business, Microscan. 

Why does this matter?

During that time, he directed the development and delivery of innovative products that included the first combination code reader/vision smart camera, first liquid lens autofocus code reader, and first browser-based on-board user-interface, and he is a named inventor on multiple patents. So, he has been in the deep end of the growing pool of industrial automation solutions for quite some time and knows how to surface incredible solutions for a variety of issues you might be dealing with. 

So, for the next few minutes, you’ll want to sit back and listen to what Andy has to say about: 

  • The “perception” issue plaguing your business and what you should do about it.

  • The surprises that machine vision might uncover within your existing processes and operations. (Things you weren’t even looking for because they weren’t apparent problems.)

  • The “iceberg model” that’s common with every technology deployment, and how ignoring it can cause a meltdown in your organization. 

  • How the economics of machine vision are changing to make the technology more accessible to you, especially as new applications are identified. 

  • What a “complete solution” looks like when it comes to industrial automation and how you can know for sure what technology components are right for the challenge at hand.

  • What industrial automation technology does best, and what it can’t necessarily do. 

  • “Project scope creep” and the things that can distract you from solving the original business problem.

  • How the integration of Matrox Imaging into Zebra is progressing, and what powerhouse capabilities you can expect as a result. (Hint: It’s all about the power of the people.)  

He also shares…

  • How you can build trust and confidence in the different technologies you’re deploying – and ensure they aren’t putting strain on the process engineers, control engineers and operations managers charged with integrating, utilizing and maintaining these technology systems. 

  • What “future proofing” really means when it comes to technology, and what you can do to keep your industrial automation systems from becoming obsolete. 

  • How you can know whether a technology is being recommended because it’s the “best solution” or because that’s all a vendor can offer as a “solution.” 

  • Why you should always have a partner (or team of partners) who you can trust to be by your side, in the trenches, long after a technology system is online. 

  • What’s next for Zebra’s industrial automation business and industrial automation overall (such as AI and deep learning, 3D vision, better IoT intelligence utilization and more)!


Best Practices, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Warehouse and Distribution, Automation, Innovative Ideas, Transportation and Logistics, Podcast, Retail, Hospitality, Public Sector,
Jim Witherspoon
Jim Witherspoon

Jim Witherspoon is currently a Product Manager with Zebra’s Machine Vision and Fixed Industrial Scanning group where he is responsible for the Zebra Aurora™ software and helping to drive the best solutions to market. 

Jim has more than 18 years of experience with machine vision and fixed industrial scanning technology and has worked in application engineering, sales, and management.  Jim previously worked with many of the world’s top companies to install thousands of machine vision and fixed industrial scanning systems and solutions.

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