Vision in Logistics

Logistics Takes Stock of How Machine Vision Can Improve Operations

Logistics and distribution operations were never easy. But with the e-commerce revolution, they must now process an increasingly diverse number of boxes, parcels, polybags, and jiffy bags, and ship-in-own-container products that come in countless colors, sizes, and geometries. While bar code scanners remain the workhorse of track and trace, the need to collect more data more quickly from more packages has prompted greater adoption of advanced vision technology. TECH B2B’s Dan McCarthy recently explored these trends in an AIA article on visiononline.org. Read more and link to the full article here.Read More

Robots: Superhero to Sanding and Grinding Operations

Robots never get rubbed the wrong way. They never complain about tough working conditions, or grinding work environments, or abrasive bosses. This is true particularly in material removal and finishing applications, such as grinding and sanding, where their human counterparts face safety risks on multiple fronts. Until recently, automation solutions found application in a limited number of finishing operations. But that is changing…Read More

How to Boost Readership of Your Outreach Emails

How to Boost Readership of Your Outreach Emails

Like their older sister the cold call, cold outreach emails aren’t the most effective way to grab a potential client’s attention. According to a recent analysis from Backlinko, only 8.5% of all outreach emails receive a response. But it’s not all bad news. The study’s research suggests several ways to boost your response rates, followed by the amount of improvement:

  • Longer subject lines between 36-50 characters (32.7%)
  • Personalized subject lines (30.5%)
  • Personalized body copy (32.7%)
  • Emails to multiple contacts (no more than five (93%)
  • Follow-up message after sending initial email (65.8%)

The bottom line? No matter how you reach out to new and prospective customers, authentic content is the best way to engage your audience. “Authentic content” means that you keep the focus on the customer. For example, instead of providing a rote list of your services or products in an email, focus on how they benefit the customer or solve a customer problem.

Authentic content also means relevant content. People spend an average time of 11.1 seconds reading email, so you need to grab their attention quickly — and use your words wisely. While personalized subject lines and body copy are critical, avoid the temptation to oversell your services with a long-winded email. If you’re addressing multiple contacts in a single email, keep the list to five or fewer. Backlinko’s analysis found that your outreach email loses efficacy when you reach out to too many people. And remember that follow-up email is just that — keep the message personalized, and don’t repeat the entire content of the original email.

As we wrote in our last blog, email reigns supreme in customer communication. Although only a handful of people will read your outreach email, these tips can help you capture the ones who do.

Could a Robot Tax Solve the Worker Displacement Issue?

The narrative of automation replacing jobs is a persistent one. The story varies depending on the narrator, but the general thrust cites multiple studies that show anywhere from 14 percent to 47 percent of jobs are at high risk of being automated. While this provides good soundbites for television, it doesn’t tell the whole story, or even an accurate one.

Lately, however, politicians and the private sector alike are exploring a new stand on automation: Robots don’t take jobs; corporations do.

During a recent talk at SXSW, for example, Congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said  we should be excited about automation because it frees up time for greater pursuits like invention and science investigation. The problem for human workers, she suggests, is economics and corporate culture, not automation. Ocasio-Cortez referenced the idea of a tax on robots, which has also been floated by Bill Gates and the French politician Benoit Hamon.

Meanwhile, the California Democratic Party has added to its platform Universal Basic Income, a policy that proposes workers should receive money from the government to offset jobs taken by automation. It’s a proposal supported by Elon Musk, too.

Not everyone is on board with the idea of a robot tax. In 2017, the European Parliament rejected a tax on robot owners that would fund retraining in employees displaced by automation. In the U.S., the idea of a robot tax faces similar headwinds: Businesses invest in robotics here not only because it improves production, but because the tax code encourages it by increasing tax subsidies on capital investments.

The MIT economist Daron Acemoglu frames this notion slightly differently. He says that spending money on technologies designed to replace workers has come at the expense of investments in productive uses for human labor.

If history is a guide, resistance to these taxation initiatives will be considerable. Case in point: livery/stable workers weren’t compensated when they were displaced by the automobile. Farm workers weren’t compensated after the advent of the harvester.

Like replacing human workers with automation, the merits and drawbacks of robot taxation are not easily packaged into a soundbite. But at the very least, it could become another facet in the debate that manufacturers will need to weigh when considering how and where they deploy their robots.

Tech B2B sponsored the A3 Wellness Run/Walk

Tech B2B sponsored the A3 Wellness Run/Walk at @a3automate #a3forum on Jan 15. 30 people showed up, more than twice as many as last year. Our group enjoyed the last of the warm weather as a cold front rolled in within an hour after the run. Great camaraderie and fun — just one of the highlights from the forum, which included insider looks at how robotics, machine vision & motor control are reshaping everything from how we build cars to how we make and deliver pizza.

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We Know Industrial Automation

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Bring the Industrial Automation Market Into Focus with TECH B2B

The best marketing agencies have their strengths: print advertising, public relations, or new media. And sometimes, they’re good at them all.

But very few can offer deep B2B expertise in all these channels PLUS an IN-DEPTH knowledge of your industrial automation market.

TECH B2B Marketing (TECH B2B) knows the industrial automation market inside out because we’ve covered it as journalists and artists, and sold it as corporate marketing specialists. Look at our client lists and you’ll see: Winners go with TECH B2B.

Clients Include:

  • Automated Imaging Association
  • Robotic Industry Association
  • Motion Control Association
  • Siemens Building & Automation
  • Cognex
  • Coreco
  • Imperx
  • ISRA Vision
  • LMI
  • Solvision
  • And many more

Don’t waste time and money trying to explain to your marketing agency that ladder logic isn’t the next-generation foot stool.

Let’s get to work. Contact TECH B2B to learn more about how we can help increase your bottom line.

Click for our Industrial Automation services brochure.

Collaborate on the Cheap with Open Source

IBM is rethinking how its employees interact with each other and their customers. E-mail, company reps say, is “anti-social,” and that, of course, goes against the very grain of social media. So, the conglomerate is promoting a social business model that uses digital work tools so employees can “do great work together.”

Sure, IBM has cash at the ready to throw at the program. But this idea can work at the small business level, thanks to open source collaborative platforms. First of all, open source means cheap, or even free. With open source, you’ve got a group of volunteer software programmers who are always making tweaks. And because of this robust community of developers, you don’t need that large IT department. (An important note: Any open source program worth its salt will have a governing committee to keep bad apples from slipping through).

These online collaborative platforms (Redmine, dotProject, Manymoon via LinkedIn, to name a few) get everyone in your company on the same page, regardless of employees’ locations. Users can easily work together with a virtual online program that allows them to manage documents, share files, create charts, facilitate communication, and the like. There are open source platforms for CRM, too, whether it’s for record keeping, sales integration, support, or troubleshooting.

Social media is all about collaboration, and so is business. It makes sense, then, to use social media software to improve business development and CRM programs. And the best part? You don’t need to have an IBM budget to do it.

Help Jackie Help Kids in Jacksonville

Jackie has been working with a local foster home as part of a community service project named “Choose to Matter“. Jackie raised money to fix playground equipment and sports facilities at Jacksonville’s Foster Home while working with local high school sports teams to visit the facility and invite the children to local sporting events.She now needs your vote to win an opportunity to join Julie Foudy at the 2012 Summer Olympics as a Youth Ambassador for McDonald’s Champions of Play Program. Check out Jackie’s project page, watch the video and vote for your favorite.

Machine Vision, Motion Control, Robotics Trade Association Update Brands

AIAKudos to Jeff Burnstein, Dana Whalls-et-al at the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), the new name and brand for the Automation Technologies Council, the parent organization to HBC clients the Automated Imaging Association, Robotic Industry Association, and Motion Control Association.

Burnstein unveiled the new A3 brand at the recent AIA business conference to, “…more accurately reflects our mission, which is to be the global advocate for the benefits of automation.” He also introduced a new logo for the machine vision focused trade association, the Automated Imaging Association (AIA). You can read more here.