Zebra Technologies Highlights Modern Plant Floor Operations at Smart Factory Expo

by | Jun 4, 2024

Zebra Technologies will set out how manufacturers can work toward modern manufacturing plant operations as workforce and technology trends combine to create new opportunities and tests to remain competitive at Smart Factory Expo, 5-6 June.

Report data from Make UK showed that 75% of surveyed manufacturers are concerned about an ageing workforce. According to Make UK, “attracting and retaining a younger workforce is an ongoing problem…the average age of manufacturing staff has climbed, and it is not uncommon for over-40s to now make up the majority of employees within the sector.” 

Meanwhile, a study in The Lancet projects that 155 of 204 countries and territories worldwide will have fertility rates below population replacement levels by 2050, while other data says people in Europe are living and working longer. Industrial leaders and researchers are highlighting the possible impact on innovation, productivity, and the ability to fill skilled manufacturing and engineering roles.

“Manufacturers are facing a silver tsunami of an ageing workforce and the challenge of attracting and retaining newer, digital native workers who do not seem to find factory and manufacturing jobs as exciting,” said Carl Schooley, Machine Vision Manager, Zebra Technologies. “Business leaders are reacting by turning to technology to fill labour gaps, train workers faster, and assist the workforce they currently have with better and easier-to-use tools. A proactive, connected factory strategy is needed, with forward thinking technology to make factories more flexible, connected, automated and digitised.” 

A virtual reality demonstration will let attendees see how Zebra solutions support the manufacturing supply chain “from farm to folk” from the point of manufacture and quality inspection, to supply chain logistics and consumer purchasing. 

At the booth, attendees can see Zebra’s field-proven portfolio of hardware and software for factories and manufacturing, including the new FS42 fixed industrial scanner equipped with a neural processing unit (NPU) for faster performance when running AI deep learning-based tools. The FS42 also features Zebra’s Aurora Focus™ for fast set-up and deployment. Zebra will preview an AI deep learning-based anomaly detection tool on the FS42, demonstrating superior performance for assembly verification and defect detection applications.  

Together with its new pixel application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), manufacturers and warehousing operators will benefit from faster decode times for select symbologies and gain significant performance enhancements from Zebra’s deep learning-based optical character recognition (DL-OCR) tool. 

High-speed turntable and tunnel demonstrations will highlight the capabilities and flexibility of Zebra’s highly automated machine vision cameras and fixed industrial scanners for packaging and item inspection on the factory conveyor belt for presence/absence and quality inspection. Zebra’s solutions also extend beyond the conveyor belt with fixed and flexible radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions for track and trace throughout the factory and across the supply chain, elevating inventory and asset visibility.  

Zebra will also showcase selected handheld and wearable computers designed with the connectivity, ruggedness and applications needed to connect front-line workers and workflows in industrial environments, with predictive device maintenance software VisibilityIQ, which analyses device usage and health with machine learning, and alerts managers in order to reduce downtime and optimise device usage and life.  

Stephan Pottel, EMEA Manufacturing Lead and Carl Schooley, EMEA Machine Vision Engineering Manager will be available to provide booth tours and interviews for members of the media.

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