Zebra Technologies

Enterprise Asset Management for industry 4.0 and Printers for the „Internet of Things“ | Interview with Zebra's Daniel Dombach

Articles | By Zebra Technologies | 14 June 2015
ZD500R - Small in size but full of features, Featuring UHF RFID encoding, it is ideal for numerous applications such as item level exception tagging, in-store tagging of returned goods, specimen tracking and RFID wristbands. ZD500R - Small in size but full of features, Featuring UHF RFID encoding, it is ideal for numerous applications such as item level exception tagging, in-store tagging of returned goods, specimen tracking and RFID wristbands. Photo: ZEBRA Technologies

Since Zebra’s acquisition of the company Motorola, they have been concentrating their attention on Enterprise Asset Management Solutions for industry 4.0 - hardware-wise printers for the „Internet of Things“ have been a clear priority

The signal to the market is clear: continuity in partnerships, investment safety for users and paving the way for new ideas. Having taken over the Enterprise division of Motorola, Zebra Technologies has refined its position as an AIDC provider for complete industrial and logistics Enterprise Asset Management Solutions. Why Industry 4.0 solutions are a logical step, what industry and printer solutions the company is pursuing and what potential the European market provides, is explained by Daniel Dombach, Zebra, in an interview with “RFID im Blick”.

Daniel Dombach, Director EMEA Industry Solutions bei Zebra, interviewed by Anja van Bocxlaer, “RFID im Blick“

In October 2014, Zebra Technologies acquired the enterprise division of Motorola. What synergies could be achieved?

The products and strengths in the industry segments of Motorola and Zebra complement each other. Zebra cover the sectors barcode, RFID, location-based services. Motorola operate in the field of scanning, wireless networks and mobile computing. Zebra‘s strategic target sectors are retail, the manufacturing industry and healthcare. The core sectors of Motorola are retail as well as transportation and logistics. In these markets, we can now offer an expanded product portfolio and solutions generated from a single source. The acquisition has resulted in shared perspectives, which were not possible before - the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing and Industry 4.0.

Now we have closed the gap – we cover the entire AIDC suite of solutions so we can develop future-oriented Business Solutions for AIDC scenarios.

Daniel DombachDaniel Dombach“We want to find solutions for the market and don’t want just to be a hardware supplier. For 99 per cent of the time we are speaking with users about process improvements to optimise the overall solution.”

The acquisition was completed very quickly, considering the size of the two companies.....

That‘s right, here we have certainly learned from previous acquisitions. So as to be visible on the market very quickly, the acquisition has taken place rapidly, but it has also been performed with great enthusiasm. The sales teams are fully integrated, the new structure is set-up. As for the product portfolio, large parts of the Enterprise division of Motorola remain visible even though rebranding will continue to take place, in the same way as Zebra products continue to be available.

How is it possible to take all partners, end users and clients with you as things change when two previously independent companies combine forces?

Of course, some companies may choose to explore other ways. After joining forces, we can achieve new synergies and offer solutions from a single source. I‘m pretty sure that we will have fruitful discussions with „classic“ Motorola customers who currently use other printers, so that they use Zebra printers in the next investment cycle. Both effects will balance out. In terms of product portfolio, it is important to us to provide investment safety to end-users through our service and our partners. We do this by guaranteeing that a product is produced for five years and maintained and cared for over another five years. That means, in the best case scenario, the investment safety is guaranteed for ten years.

What is the role of RFID technology in Zebra’s solutions business?

With products from Psion, Motorola and Zebra covering the entire suite of RFID frequencies, we are perfectly placed to offer „Internet of Things“ solutions. This is one of the largest solution scenarios that we have embraced. RFID is a growing market - but in comparison to barcodes the percentage of all business solutions has been estimated as less than ten percent. I wish, however, that the success of RFID would gain momentum. In recent years, we have crossed a threshold because now there is no more need to discuss the basic technical issues. And we can see now, especially in the retail sector, very many RFID projects placed with large-user companies. We are aware that RFID and sensors are used in the production environment in the areas of Manufacturing, Industry 4.0 and IoT.

What part does Zebra need to play in speeding up the implementation of RFID solutions in the context of industrial 4.0? The term ‘Industry 4.0’ is still described as being “an ambitious goal”.

One of our main priorities, especially in the field of industrial solutions, is Enterprise Asset Management. This means that all devices are included, independently of their location, in the collection of data to generate business-relevant information using analysis tools. This is only possible if all the relevant data is available. And this is precisely the goal of industry 4.0. Sure, Industry 4.0 is still an ambitious goal and the saying “A lot of noise, but not much in use” applies to the manufacturing sector. But the fact is, the manufacturing industry has not sufficient data available to be able to optimise this process. In logistics, we are already discussing the new generation of logistic applications in internal projects, for example smart labels or video analyses supporting the accurate localisation of objects of up to a metre in the warehouse. These technologies are partially in use in pilot schemes, we drive them actively forward and communicate this to the market.

The European market is very much in flux. What is the significance of the European market for Zebra and how do you evaluate the long-term market potential in Europe compared to the US?

Based on the revenue of the corporate group, Europe is our second largest market, followed by the Asia-Pacific region. Since Zebra carries out large projects with multi-national operating companies such as DHL or DPD, it is necessary for us as a European organisation to be represented throughout Europe. Zebra Technologies has more than 122 branches in 81 countries and channel partners in over 100 countries, covering 80 per cent of the business.

We noticed that there are regional differences in the willingness to adapt technological innovations. The strong industrial countries in Central Europe are technologically more advanced than some of Eastern European regions. But we can learn from the experiences in the more-developed markets, so that we can respond better in other countries, only now benefitting from the technological developments we launched on the market in Germany or France two years ago. In this respect, I do see great potential in Eastern Europe and Africa but opening up the market is not an easy task. If you compare the US with Europe, the potential and potential sales successes are easier to develop than in Europe because of the economic boom, which was triggered in the US by energy independence.

Last modified on Monday, 15 June 2015 00:08
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