When Zebra entered the fixed industrial scanning and machine vision marketplace, one of their primary goals was to offer track-and-trace and quality inspection solutions that are easier to setup, deploy, and use than options available from other manufacturers like Cognex. The engineers at Zebra understood that complicated systems that require users to master multiple software platforms and lacked the flexibility needed to adapt as needs evolve can prevent users from getting the most out of industrial automation solutions—or even stop them from adopting the technology altogether.
One approach Zebra uses to make their machine vision solutions easier to use than competitors’ tools is to put advanced imaging functions right at users’ fingertips, making it easy to build custom solutions. In a previous post, we looked at some of the specific imaging tools that Zebra offers across their fixed scanning and machine vision lineup. In this post, we’ll focus on the underlying technology and solution architecture that Zebra is using to further simplify their solutions.
A Single, Unified Software Platform
The heart of Zebra’s easy-to-use approach is Zebra Aurora, the software platform that underpins all their fixed industrial scanners and machine vision smart cameras. While competitive tools often require users to master a range of software tools to put different solutions in place, Aurora is the only software needed for Zebra solutions. With only one software platform to learn, training is vastly simplified, and users get up to speed more quickly.
In addition to minimizing the number of software tools that users need to master, Zebra Aurora features a modern, user-friendly interface that fits any user. Aurora provides step-by-step guidance to new users, while also empowering experienced users with one-click access to most functions, including advanced imaging tools that aren’t even available on many other platforms.
The people at Zebra clearly understood that users would need occasional assistance navigating such a comprehensive toolset, so Aurora offers easy access to built-in learn-as-you-go tutorials, walk-throughs, and videos to help users stay on track.
Easy to Deploy and Operate
One of the keys to making Zebra’s automated data- and image-capture technology so easy to use is the flexibility that’s built into the platform. The portfolio includes devices that can utilize power-over ethernet (PoE) and high power PoE+ to reduce setup complexity and cost by eliminating the need for additional power drops or external power supplies. But, if there’s no PoE infrastructure, you have the option to use USB-C or a conventional power supply.
The same level of flexibility applies to connectivity. With Zebra devices, you can build solutions that use ethernet/IP, PROFINET, and other network protocols. But you can also plug cameras directly into laptops, tablets, or other devices via USB-C. And the devices offer up to nine programmable I/O ports for maximum application flexibility.
Ease of use extends to creating and operating custom applications. For example:
- The AutoTune feature takes the guesswork out of image capture, allowing users to dial in the perfect image with the press of a button.
- Built-in QuickDraw and Object Locate tools make it easy to identify areas and objects for inspection.
- ImagePerfect+ is a Zebra-only feature that generates up to 16 images from a single trigger event to compensate for uneven lighting and other variables without any complex coding.
- A Feasibility Setup Assistant ensures jobs work right from the start.
The net result? With this platform flexibility and toolset, Zebra has made it easy to build and deploy solutions to handle everything from high-speed barcode capture to sophisticated image-based inspections in just about any setting.
When it comes to simplifying industrial automation, Zebra’s fixed scanning and machine vision solutions have a lot to offer. Please contact Wilco Imaging if you would like to learn.