On May 18th, Zebra Technologies made significant news in Machine Vision and Industrial Barcode Scanning with a five -part announcement:
1. Introduced Machine Vision (MV) products, with a new vision sensor and two new smart cameras;
2. Announced a Fixed Industrial Scanners (FIS) business unit with 4 product offerings;
3. Unveiled Aurora, Zebra’s new platform to manage FIS and MV solutions;
4. Announced its acquisition of Adaptive Vision, a provider of software for MV application development, and
5. Expanded its PartnerConnect program to support MV and FIS.
New MV and FIS Products and Partners
Zebra’s initial products consist of one smart vision sensor, two smart cameras, and four fixed industrial scanners. Target applications range from inspections and track and trace to warehouse automation across logistics and manufacturing environments. The MV and FIS product portfolio spans entry level plug and play products to performance-class solutions (the VS40 camera and the FS70 scanner) that are customizable for more advanced requirements. The suite is supported by Aurora, a unified software platform enabling users to implement, deploy, and run the scanners and cameras.
Although Zebra is the leading vendor in most enterprise data capture and automatic identification market segments, it has not actively participated in the industrial scanning and machine vision markets. Through this acquisition and product announcements Zebra has expanded its TAM and will be more directly competing with vendors such as Datalogic, Omron (Microscan), SICK, Cognex and Keyence, among others. Moreover, Zebra has hired industry veteran Donato Montanari as VP and GM, Machine Vision. Montanari previously held a similar position at Datalogic.
An accelerator of Zebra’s new products could be its acquisition of Adaptive Vision. This small, privately held Polish provider of software and libraries for machine vision application development allows Zebra to offer rapid machine vision application development options to its customers. This could become a critical competitive differentiator for Zebra to augment with other recent acquisitions such as Cortexica, especially as core machine vision hardware and camera solutions mature. As VDC noted in our 2021 Machine Vision and Industrial Barcode Scanning report, vendors are increasing investments in software solutions to move up the solution stack and differentiate their offerings. Adaptive Vision offers Zebra that potential.
Lastly, Zebra also referenced a specialized track in its PartnerConnect program to support these products and associated partners. This is particularly relevant as Zebra relies extensively on its partners for product sales and distribution yet traditionally has not engaged as directly with the system integrators and partner organizations supporting machine vision and industrial scanning solutions, selling into key logistics and industrial markets. These announcements round out Zebra’s Enterprise Asset Visibility solutions, creating one of – if not the – most comprehensive portfolios available to customers and partners today.
New Markets and TAM
According to VDC’s 2021 Machine Vision and Industrial Barcode Scanning report, Zebra’s primary target markets for its machine vision and industrial scanning solutions – specifically in logistics/warehousing and manufacturing sectors – represent approximately a $1.4B hardware only opportunity, significantly expanding Zebra’s existing total available market (TAM). With the volume of e-commerce transactions continuing unabatedly, demand for logistics automation solutions - such as MV and FIS technologies – is expected to remain strong. Moreover, these new products and services will further open the door to the manufacturing shop-floor for Zebra – an environment with strong upside potential.
For further, in-depth coverage, please see the VDC Research 2021 Machine Vision and Industrial Barcode Scanning Executive Brief, and stay tuned our upcoming report, E-commerce Logistics – From Receiving to Reverse Logistics: Balancing Labor and Automation In High Speed and High Volume Fulfillment Centers.