Wednesday, 22 May 2019 01:02

AUDIO Interview: Zebra celebrates 50 years, launches new hardware that empowers Industry 4.0

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Proudly celebrating 50 years of "innovating at the edge", two top Zebra executives talk to iTWire about the last five decades of success, the company's new hardware, how it all fits into Industry 4.0, customer success stories in Australia and plenty more.

Zebra Technologies Corporation. The company has reached an impressive 50 year milestone, proudly boasting of being "an innovator at the edge of the enterprise with solutions and partners that enable businesses to gain a performance edge" and which "continues to empower the front line of business".

The company notes that since the inception of its first printing prototypes in the late 1960s, it has "evolved into a trusted advisor to its partners and customers based on its legacy of innovation to help digitally transform the enterprise".

We're also told that "when Zebra and its partners deliver a performance edge to front-line employees, nurses spend more time at the bedside with a patient resulting in higher quality care, and retail associates check inventory and complete transactions without leaving the shopper’s side".

Likewise, Zebra's "integration of mobile printing and data capture solutions with cross-technology indoor location solutions" ensure that "manufacturing plants and distribution centres become smarter environments in which production, fulfilment and shipping efficiencies are dramatically increased".

Anders Gustafsson, chief executive of Zebra Technologies, said: "We are proud to celebrate our half century milestone with our customers across the retail/ecommerce, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, government and other industries.

"While Zebra has changed its stripes over the years, we are well-positioned to accelerate our strategy. With our network of specialised partners, we will continue to deliver industry-tailored solutions at the enterprise edge where there is an amazing amount of new growth and opportunities.”

We were offered the opportunity of speaking to Thomas Bianculli, Vice President of the Technology Office at Zebra Technologies and Ryan Goh, Vice President & General Manager of Sales at Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific about the milestone.

We discussed how the company started, its journey and major acquisitions and where the company is today.

We looked at how its new solutions are being used by customers in Australia and the region, about its IoT solutions, about Industry 4.0, the industry's evolution over the next few years, great advice and final messages to readers, customers and partners.

Our audio interview is embedded immediately below, followed by more on Zebra's achievements, its product range and a series of official videos on the 2019 range, so please read on!

As you might expect, Zebra says its "consistent focus" on its "guiding principles" has resulted in being in business for 50 years, and that "as digital technology transforms the edge of the enterprise", the company's "purpose-driven design builds in ease of use, security and ruggedness with front-line users, workplace and workflows in mind".

The company is keen to remind you that it "enables customers to create smart, data-powered environments to better reflect what is happening at the edge of their operations rather than relying on traditional systems of record.

"And connected, collaborative mobile workflows" powered by the company's innovations "allow those on the front line to optimise in-motion operations while linking together teams, assets and systems to deliver best-action guidance for business-critical decisions in real time".

Globally, Zebra proudly boasts "an impressive lineup of end-to-end products and solutions; including the popular TC5X touch computers and the LS2208 barcode scanner, as well as innovative products like the MP7000 Grocery Scanner Scale, amongst others.

"With over 4,400 U.S. and international patents issued and pending, Zebra has been working to heighten investment in disruptive technologies – bolstered by acquisitions in recent years that include Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business, Xplore Technologies Corporation and Temptime Corporation".

And naturally, Zebra states it "will be introducing a new breed of products and solutions so businesses can anticipate implications and make best-action decisions based on real-time guidance".

Collectively, we're told "these new products and solutions can help drive a truly unprecedented revolution in workforce mobility".

Highlights include:

MC9300 Mobile Computers which "enables businesses to modernise their mobile solutions to keep up with the growing demands of e-commerce while shortening training time, improving fulfilment speed and accuracy and increasing productivity by as much as 10% compared to competing devices".

ZQ600 Series Mobile Printers which are "designed to print everything from shelf labels to item tags, markdown labels and sales receipts. The new printers enable peak performance for applications such as pricing management and faster checkouts in retail stores".

MC3330R RFID handheld reader which "helps workers read both RFID tags and barcodes with point and shoot simplicity, and is sensitive enough to capture the most challenging of RFID tags – bringing a new level of efficiency to inventory and asset management".

The aforementioned Ryan Goh, VP and GM of the Asia Pacific region for Zebra Technologies said: "Asia Pacific is a very important region for Zebra. We anticipate strong growth owing to the rise of e-commerce, an increasingly connected workforce, and the confluence of Industry 4.0.

"The recent Intelligent Enterprise Index study Zebra conducted last year revealed an encouraging trend – companies in Asia Pacific are moving the needle in the deployment and investment of the Internet of Things.

“In Asia, we are making waves in the areas of retail, transport, healthcare, logistics and manufacturing. Our momentum continues in 2019 as we pride ourselves with the broadest product portfolio of any other solutions provider in the industry.”

Here are some of Zebra's official videos on the products listed above:

Zebra Technologies: MC9300 Product Overview:

Zebra: MC9300 Development team discuss the new Ultra-Rugged Mobile Computer:

Zebra: ISVs Crave InfoTech & JDA discuss the MC9300:

Zebra ZQ600 Series Mobile Printer:

Zebra's MC3330R Integrated UHF RFID Reader:

Additional milestones in during and up to Zebra's 50th year:

Acquisitions:

  • In 2014, Zebra acquired Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business and more than doubled its size from a US$1 billion company to a combined revenue of approximately US$3.5 billion
  • In 2018, Zebra completed its acquisition of Xplore Technologies Corporation, a leading developer of tablets and laptops to complement Zebra’s industry-leading enterprise mobile computing, data capture, and printing portfolios
  • In 2019, Zebra completed its acquisition of Temptime Corporation, a privately-held developer and manufacturer of temperature monitoring solutions for mission-critical applications in the healthcare industry. Financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed

Awards and recognition:

  • Zebra has been recognised by Gartner as a Visionary in the Magic Quadrant for Indoor Location Services, Global for the second consecutive year in 2019
  • Zebra ranked 145 among all mid-sized companies on Forbes’ 2018 list of “America’s Best Employers.” This is Zebra’s third consecutive year on the Forbes’ list. ComputerWorld placed Zebra #8 on its Best Mid-Size Places to Work in IT for 2018, and Zebra ranked #628 on the Fortune 1000 list based on its total revenue
  • For the fourth consecutive year in 2018, Zebra has received the Red Dot Award for product design and most recently earned top honors for the TC20 mobile computer and TC25 rugged smartphone
  • CRN awarded Zebra a five-star rating in its 2018 Partner Program Guide, which annually ranks partner programs from technology vendors that provide products and services through the IT channel
  • Zebra earned two honuors from Australia’s prestigious Good Design® Award® for outstanding design and innovation in the Product Design Category. These include the MC3300 mobile computer as well as the TC20 and TC25 durable mobile computers

Product innovation: 

  • Zebra shipped its one millionth touch computer, the TC5 in 2019

Employee growth:

  • From humble beginnings of only 200 employees in 1991, Zebra has grown its global headcount by over 3,700% to 7,637 employees in 2018

Social responsibility:

  • Zebra supports STEM education through FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) sponsorship. Zebra’s Holtsville N.Y. location has sponsored many of FIRST’s robot-building teams and has employees who have mentored FIRST participants for more than 20 years

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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