Revealing the Results of Zebra Technologies’ ‘Machine Vision in Packaging Automation Survey’

by | Oct 25, 2023

To gauge the industry’s views on the use of machine vision in packaging automation, and to find out how many currently utilise this technology, MVPro Media partnered with Zebra Technologies to produce a survey.

This survey gives our readers the opportunity to explain which inspections they perform and what challenges they face. It also explores the use of OCR tools and allows the partakers to discuss the biggest obstacles when using OCR technology.

We hope that this will promote the benefits of using machine vision in package automation and provide those who are interested in the technology with the information they need to get started.

The Challenges of Machine Vision

Machine vision experts were first asked which technologies they use, with the options of ‘fixed readers for traceability’ and ‘machine vision for packaging inspection’. With some overlap, 58% said they use fixed readers for traceability, while 46% use machine vision for packaging inspection.

However, using machine vision comes with its share of challenges. We asked our audience to state which challenges they face when using machine vision technology. The most frequently selected challenge was inspection speed, with more than 70% of those surveyed stating that this affects them.

53% find ease of use to be an issue, while 48% believe that limited software and hardware compatibility impedes their work. The next highest was the stability of inspection, which impacts 46%. Also, financial cost provides a hurdle for 42% of those surveyed, with an equal amount believing the time to deployment provides a challenge. Albeit the least selected answer, 25% say maintenance is a challenge.

The survey revealed that most of our readers do not have a procurement cycle for machine vision products. 94% procure as required through the year, while the remaining 6% have a specific cycle. Some stated that their procurement cycle takes place every 2-3 months, while others have theirs planned for later this year or next year.

The Challenges of OCR Tools

Last year, Zebra unveiled their deep learning optimal character recognition (DL-OCR) technology. The tool enables manufacturers and warehousing operators to undertake fast and accurate compliance, quality, and presence checks.

This form of technology is readily used in the industry, with a resounding 81% stating that they currently use OCR tools as part of their inspection. Though accurate and reliable in perfect conditions, OCR inspections can be notoriously time-consuming to set up and struggle to deliver stable results when dealing with more complex backgrounds, settings and scenarios.

Our readers were asked to rank a list of OCR challenges from most to least significant. The option which received the most top votes was stability, with 37% viewing it as the biggest challenge, while 48% ranked it as either second or third.

Also, the amount of training required causes problems for our readers; 32% believe this to be the biggest challenge, while 52% view it as either the second or third biggest drawback.

22% said the time it takes to complete an inspection is their toughest challenge, although only 12% ranked it as either second or third highest. 60% believed that difficulty when handling complex cases is among the top three most significant challenges, albeit only 6% selected it as their first choice.

Zebra Technologies will be discussing the survey results, the common challenges encountered when using Machine Vision for packaging inspections and the latest and greatest OCR tech and techniques in an exclusive webinar with MVPro Media on 16th November.

To learn more about the results of the survey and how Zebra’s latest Deep Learning OCR offering can help to alleviate the common challenges of conventional OCR tools, register your place here

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