Virtual reality truly is a blessing – one of the great marvels of modern technology. Being able to explore the corners of the earth in a very up close and personal way, as if we are actually there, can be life changing. And since COVID-19 created physical distance between us, we have found the ability to “travel” and “experience” site visits with colleagues and “be there” as customers’ new technology systems are being installed or tested equally remarkable. But, like many of you, we are ready to return to the real world. That’s why we’re overjoyed to announce that many Zebra Experience Centers (ZEC) around the world are now welcoming in-person visits!*
If you’ve been pining for a truly hands-on experience with Zebra’s technology solutions, you can book a tour now through your Zebra account manager or sales contact. And even if you have visited before, you may want to plan a return trip as soon as possible. While our facilities were closed, we made some major improvements – especially at our ZEC in Bourne End, United Kingdom. EMEA General Manager and Senior Vice President of Sales, Richard Hudson, who recently hosted a hybrid grand re-opening event with employees, partners and other special guests, gives us the scoop on what’s new in this state-of-the-art facility…
Your Edge Blog Team: How would you describe the feeling of being able to welcome back customers, partners and other visitors into the ZEC after so many months separated?
Richard: It was brilliant to meet people again. After months spent working from home during lockdown, almost 100 colleagues appreciated joining us in-person for this ZEC re-opening event. It was also nice to be able to cater to those who were unable to attend by streaming our first live “broadcast” on Zebra TV directly from the ZEC. Almost 70 partners and over 80 colleagues joined us online as we toured the facility and interviewed our product specialists.
Your Edge Blog Team: That sounds incredible. We understand there were also some very special guests in attendance at the reopening celebration.
Richard: Yes, there were representatives from the National Literacy Trust and the Education Business Partnership, two charities that Zebra supports in our EMEA region to help increase literacy and inspire the future workforce. We were also honored that Councillor Thomas Broom, Parliamentary Assistant to Joy Morrissey MP (our local Member of Parliament) joined us. He was very impressed with Zebra’s advancements in technology, especially in robotics, and commented on how interesting it is that Zebra’s work touches the lives of so many people.
Your Edge Blog Team: So, Zebra’s latest robotics innovations are now included in the ZEC experience?
Richard: Yes, those who visit the ZEC in Bourne End will now be able to check out Zebra SmartSight™, Fulfillment Edge™, Intelligent Cabinets, our machine vision system and much more. It really is the ideal place for our customers to learn more about Zebra’s solutions.
Your Edge Blog Team: We understand that community residents are now invited to the ZEC to experience these technologies alongside customers and partners. Can you tell us more about that?
Richard: Given how much our innovations impact the lives of our family members, friends, neighbors, and front-line workers, we want to give them an opportunity to learn more about how these technologies were developed and how they’re being used. They may see a retail assistant using a Zebra mobile computer or scanner when they shop in store, or they might even use one themselves at the self-checkout. And our kiosk solutions are increasingly being used for ordering in restaurants or picking up click-and-collect orders. But they may not realize how our technologies are being used behind the scenes in distribution centers and warehouses to ensure their online orders are delivered to them on time. And they may not make the connection between Zebra and the barcoded wristbands worn by hospital patients to help make sure they’re being given the right medications at the right time. So, we enjoy showing them all the cool ways our technology is being used – and all the really innovative new technologies we’ve come up with, beyond mobile computers, scanners and printers, to make their lives even better. For example, many are shocked to learn how Zebra’s machine vision systems, temperature sensors and RFID solutions are being used to help ensure those medications, as well as their favorite food, beverages and beauty products, have thoroughly passed quality inspections and are being protected against fraud and tampering as they move through supply chains.
Your Edge Blog Team: Can anyone just turn up at a ZEC at their leisure?
Richard: No, they must schedule a visit through our booking team. But we are very easy to work with, and we’re building many educational partnerships with community organizations and schools to schedule group tours.
Your Edge Blog Team: Are customers, partners and other visitors able to personally interact with the technology? For example, can they work alongside a collaborative robot (cobot), wear a head-mounted display to pick orders using FulfillmentEdge, or shop in a store as Zebra’s SmartSight™ solution is roaming aisles checking inventory levels?
Richard: They will be able to see all our technology up close, including the Zebra SmartSight solution as you noted.
Your Edge Blog Team: What’s your favorite part of the new ZEC experience?
Richard: We’re showcasing technology solutions from all the vertical sectors, so hopefully each visitor will find themselves in awe for different reasons. In fact, we always build a custom agenda that ensures our guests speak with the right Zebra subject matter experts, product leads, industry principals and executives depending on the reason for their visit. So, I really encourage everyone to book a visit when they can, whether it’s here at the UK’s Bourne End ZEC or in one of our other regional facilities.
If you are a Zebra customer and would like to visit the ZEC in Bourne End, you can book a tour through your Zebra account manager. Reservations for public tours can be made by contacting the local ZEC briefing management team via email.
If you are a Zebra customer or partner in North America, you can now work with your Zebra account managers to book in-person tours of the ZECs in Lincolnshire, Illinois; Holtsville, New York; and Germantown, Maryland.
The ZEC in Singapore is also accepting appointments for in-person visits. Contact your Zebra representative to schedule your personalized tour.
And, if you’re unable to travel right now, you can still schedule a one-on-one virtual ZEC tour with our team. Just contact your local Zebra account manager to set it up.
*Please note that health and safety continue to be Zebra’s top priority. Zebra’s sites and facilities are only open where it’s safe to do so, following rigorous health and safety guidelines. All employees and visitors must comply with stated safety policies prior to entering any Zebra location, which may include, but is not limited to, wearing a mask and social distancing. Please consult with your Zebra contact to confirm all onsite safety protocols and restrictions specific to the local area prior to your visit.