First Priority: Quality
Interview with Scott Summerville, CEO of Microscan
In 2012, Microscan celebrated its 30th company anniversary. In retrospect, it is evident that the positive business development has been accompanied by technical innovations. These innovations are milestones on the way to becoming a global provider of products and solutions. Inspect talked with Scott Summerville about the American company he manages.
INSPECT: Since its foundation in 1982, Microscan has successfully developed and sold market-orientated solutions by presenting technological innovations in Auto-ID and Machine Vision. From your point of view, what is the basis of this successful development and Microscan's strong global position in the market?
Scott Summerville: Since its founding, our company focused on its customers and their needs. This together with continuous innovation has allowed Microscan to create innovative and popular products and technology that solve customer problems and provide opportunities for improvements in time-to-market, yield, and cost. The organization of our marketing and engineering departments along vertical market lines has greatly facilitated our customer-centric approach to business. I believe the greatest compliment a customer can ever pay you is when they say, "you get it," meaning that we understand their business and expectations. We have received that type of compliment on numerous occasions.
INSPECT: Technical developments, for example in the area of microelectronics, now enable solutions that were impossible to realize in the year 1982. How does this positive progress influence the products and solutions developed by Microscan?
Scott Summerville: Microscan has always been guided by the concept of miniaturization; after all, it is in our name. Advances in electronic components and optics have allowed us to stay on the cutting edge in this area. The Vision MINI smart camera for example, is currently the smallest fully integrated machine vision system in the world. However, like many technologies, software is playing an ever-growing role in shaping the value and capabilities of products and solutions in the Auto ID and Machine Vision markets. As a result, we are able to introduce products with new and significantly enhanced capabilities without changing hardware platforms and footprint.
This allows us to introduce products faster and at a lower cost while still providing our customers and the market with leading-edge technology.
INSPECT: The demand on improved quality has increased with the complexity of industrial products. How have the expectations of your customer groups changed towards Microscan?
Scott Summerville: High quality is a given for our customers. They demand it and my team and I are very focused on it. The Clinical Diagnostic and Lab Automation markets are particularly demanding when it comes to quality and reliability. And there is often a fine line between product/solution quality and application sensitivity. Again, this is where a customer-centric approach is critical. We often need to work with our customers to help apply our products to their particular application and create custom firmware as a result. This requires a high degree of process and application knowledge, not just product knowledge. In many cases we understand our customer's process as well if not better than they do when it comes to scanning and/or inspection.
Also, I think it is worth pointing out that customers appreciate simplicity in how they interact with the technology. However, creating simplicity is often complex from a manufacturers‘ perspective. Our recent introduction of Autovision 2.0 machine vision software is a great example of technology that is becoming easier to use but more complex to develop. We will continue to create products and solutions that fit this mantra because we believe that our customers place great value on ease of use and set up as well as the scalability of the architecture.
INSPECT: To meet with the high requirements of the manufacturing industries, Microscan has always to offer innovative products with best solutions. What are the current highlights of your company?
Scott Summerville: Autovision 2.0 is clearly an exciting highlight for Microscan. It greatly expands the product's capability to include easier connectivity, verification as well as multi-job changeover. And all of these capabilities are delivered in a scalable hardware and software architecture that is easy to set up and use. You really have to see it to understand what I am saying so we are excited by the aspect of Autovision becoming the core of Microscan's business in the future.
INSPECT: Besides the classic markets, for example the automotive branch with its suppliers, there is an increasing focus on other branches of the machine vision industry. The food and beverage industry is at the top of this list. Where do you see growth potential for Auto-ID and Machine Vision system solutions?
Scott Summerville: I really think the sky is the limit as more and more industries and countries engage in advanced manufacturing. This includes the use of automated scanning and optical inspection to track, trace, and control the manufacturing process and quality as well as provide traceability of the products throughout the supply chain. As the capability of the technology grows as well as the convergence of Auto ID and Machine Vision, more and more companies will find the cost/benefit and value proposition compelling. As a result, it is important to make sure that we are continuously reaching new and potential customers and markets and expanding the use of the technology within the existing customers and markets served.