Zebra Technologies, The Internet of Things, Manufacturing & Innovation

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Jan 30, 2018 8:00:00 AM


With revenues of approximately $3.7 billion and almost 7,000 employees in more than 40 countries, Zebra is a trusted business partner to more than 95 percent of all Fortune 500 companies.

Zebra builds enterprise-level data capture and automatic identification solutions that provide businesses with operational visibility.  Zebra mobile computers, barcode and RFID scanners, printers, location solutions, and software helps to deliver remarkable insight in a multitude of businesses.

Many Americans may not know Zebra by name, but they come into contact with Zebra solutions every day. For example, the barcode labels that are prominently featured on airline bag tags, express delivery packages, and pharmaceutical prescription bottles are often generated by a Zebra barcode label printer and tracked and managed by a Zebra scanner. Factory, warehouse and delivery workers as well as countless healthcare workers across the globe employ Zebra mobile computing devices daily in their work.

Manufacturing & the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Zebra describes Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as those technologies which enable businesses to track critical assets and events within their operations and know exactly what they are, where they are and their condition, so they can make smarter, faster decisions that improve the bottom line. IIoT leverages and recognizes the fact that people, assets and devices – especially mobile devices – are becoming increasingly connected and that this trend is advancing quickly.

A few key facts help illustrate this point:

  • By 2020, there will be 1.75 billion global mobile workers accounting for 42% of the global workforce.
  • By 2020, there will be 21 billion connected devices in a global Internet of Things.
  • By 2020, there will be 44 zettabytes of data with 10% of it coming from the Internet of Things.

As a result of these trends, Zebra is working with companies around the world to provide solutions which yield real-time visibility into their processes, assets and people. The key elements which enable this work include:

  • The employment of unrivaled expertise in sensor and device connectivity enables companies to inter-connect devices to software and to mobile workers so that decision makers and workers alike have substantially more real-time visibility into operations.
  • Equally important, the provision of easy access to an unprecedented amount of data that IIoT enables allows companies to plan more effective short- and long-term strategies by delivering real-time insights into the critical data captured by the sensors in connected devices.
  • The explosive growth of mobile devices across the private, public and non-profit sectors enables management and workers at all levels to act on these visibility-driven insights in real-time, anytime and everywhere.

Manufacturers and their supply chain partners are increasingly recognizing the transformational role of IIoT solutions in driving growth and improving performance in several areas including:

  • Increasing total production and throughput.
  • Improving the ability to adjust to fluctuating market demand.
  • Increasing the number of product variants.
  • Increasing visibility across a given business enterprise.
  • Decreasing the cost of production

It becomes more important than ever to examine these issues in greater detail by discussing the elements and application of IIoT to manufacturing, including:

  • The State of the Manufacturing Industry.
  • The Benefits and Rising Importance of IIoT.
  • The Challenges of Fully Deploying IIoT.
  • IIoT Deployment Drivers:
    • Quality Management.
    • Creating Increasing Tracking Points in Manufacturing.
    • The Demands of Industry 4.0.
    • the Importance of Expanding Functionality.
    • the Value of Leveraging Technology to Realize Greater Growth.
  • IIoT in American Manufacturing.
  • Policy Recommendations.

The Future

Manufacturers are adopting Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, in which workers use a combination of RFID, wearables, automated systems and other emerging technologies to monitor the physical processes of the plant and enable companies to make decentralized decisions. In the factory and across the supply chain, firms are also capitalizing on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve real-time visibility into their goods, assets, processes and places.

Along with wearables and voice solutions, manufacturers are adding RFID alongside existing barcode technologies to provide a more connected plant floor. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already beginning to transform manufacturing and companies are increasing their usage of RFID as a powerful tool to convert physical materials into digital assets that are easy to track in real-time on the plant floor.

SMART Factories - fully-connected factories are expected to double with over one-third of those surveyed anticipating having this capability by 2022.

Today, 37 percent of respondent are using RFID and that number is only expected to grow over the next five years. By 2022, 48 percent of respondents across all industries plan to use RFID as part of the manufacturing process. Using RFID to optimize production is seen as one of the top benefits by respondents in deploying IIoT technologies for a connected factory. Expect to also see increased use of RFID for WIP tracking and Goods Out.

For the first time in decades, investment decisions are no longer being driven primarily by short-term Return on Investment (ROI) calculations but also, increasingly, by long-term quality performance metrics. Companies simply can’t afford to produce defective or sub-standard products and maintain their competitive edge. The cost of poor quality in terms of scrap, reworks, returns, and defects is simply too high.

Add to these challenges the adverse impact of customer complaints, a lack of customer confidence and, ultimately, the loss of brand loyalty, and it’s evident that poor quality products can cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation. As a result, manufacturers and their suppliers are making changes to their plant floor operations and moving toward a fully connected, smart factory as a way of achieving the goal of error-free production. Zebra views IIoT-based solutions as an essential component of this effort.

The benefits of IIoT-based solutions are allowing companies to work smarter, enhance productivity, create jobs and improve the overall economy. Advanced Mobile Group and Zebra Technologies are committed to bringing IIoT solutions to companies to help them work better and smarter, giving them a performance edge.

Industry 4.0 and IIoT may be transforming the manufacturing sector, but it is the need for quality assurance that is driving manufacturing process innovation. Change is already underway, and manufacturers and suppliers are integrating visibility solutions into the plant floor operations to increase quality, expedite production, and reduce costs. Key efforts include instituting more gates along the production line, enabling automated communication between suppliers and manufacturers, and deploying advanced technologies to empower workers and decision making. All are strategic steps that companies are embracing to realize the truly smart factory of the future.

About Zebra’s “2017 Manufacturing Vision Study”

Zebra Technologies commissioned a global study to analyze trends and challenges that impact manufacturing companies. The survey asked 1,100 executives from automotive, high tech, food, beverage, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies for their insights on adopting technology on the plant floor to increase their competitive position.

Access Zebra’s 2017 Manufacturing Vision Study Here >

Source: These are excerpts and highlights as Zebra’s CTO Tom Bianculli testified on Industrial IoT trends before the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 18, 2018.

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Topics: Internet of Things, Zebra Updates, Manufacturing

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