Zebra’s entry into fixed scanning and machine vision solutions drew a lot of attention from industry watchers and end-users who have long been tied to products from other manufacturers. Many observers wondered how the leader in barcode technology would differentiate their track-and-trace and inspection tools from products by manufacturers such as Cognex. Once we we’re able to run Zebra’s tools through their paces, however, it became clear that their solutions are not only competitive with Cognex, but actually surpass them in several key areas.
After working with Zebra products on several quality inspection applications, we’ve identified several key areas that set Zebra solutions apart. We’re going to use a series of blog posts to help users understand some of the differences that we believe give Zebra solutions an advantage over options from Cognex, Datalogic, and other suppliers.
One of the key differentiators that users will appreciate when they evaluate Zebra’s automated inspection portfolio is the availability of advanced software tools right out of the box. Since image capture is at the heart of automated quality inspections, let’s start our review with a look at some of the Zebra-only features that separate Zebra from other solutions.
Many machine vision inspection systems require additional cameras, external lights, or custom programming to capture images at varying distances from the camera and to compensate for uneven lighting conditions. Zebra has eliminated this complexity with ImagePerfect+, a ground-breaking software system that allows their machine vision cameras to capture up to 16 different images with a single trigger event. Each image can employ unique settings for focus, exposure, gain, illumination control, and other variables to ensure the system always produces useable images, no matter how challenging the conditions.
Golden Image Compare
When image capture or barcode reading fails, it’s critical to identify the cause quickly. This Zebra-only tool allows users to compare a failed image to a “perfect” reference image to rapidly identify the cause of image degradation. Whether the problem stems from a dirty lens, lighting problem, misaligned camera, or other issue, Golden Image Compare makes it easy to resolve the issue.
Consistent performance is critical to any inspection system. To help users troubleshoot potential problems, Zebra has added a unique Job Compare function to their machine vision solutions. This Zebra-only tool compares all the current settings in the job and camera to the initial settings; if something was inadvertently changed, all it takes is a single click to restore the correct settings.
Object Locate and Pattern Matching
Most machine vision systems offer a basic object locate tool, but they charge extra for tools that match Zebra’s capabilities. Zebra’s unique Object Locate solution employs highly sophisticated algorithms and specially crafted default settings that allow it to find a part even when objects rotate outside their usual orientation or when lighting varies across a wide spectrum. And, for more challenging applications, Zebra includes an advanced Pattern Matching capability that can identify target components in the complex assemblies.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Zebra’s machine vison cameras offer optional OCR capability that’s not found on competitors’ products. This unique feature is crucial in health care and food and beverage manufacturing, allowing users to create applications that verify the presence and legibility of expiration and lot codes to protect patient and consumer safety.
These unique software tools are just one of the ways that Zebra’s machine vision portfolio stands apart from competitive products. In coming articles, we’ll look at some of the other ways they’ve differentiated their products to make it easier for users to eliminate errors and increase performance.
Please contact your Wilco Imaging representative to learn more about Zebra’s fixed industrial scanners and machine vision systems.