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Print Labels Directly From Oracle to Zebra Printers

June 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Labeling is a very important business process that usually confuses even the best of us.  It involves many moving parts; including, but not limited to, ERP systems, printer hardware, bar-code symbologies, and label templates. It’s seemingly rare in corporate IT to find a single person who knows enough about all of these technologies to create a simple labeling solution. Third party companies like Bartender and Loftware have swooped in to provide “turnkey solutions” which have their own complexities. From my point of view, these third party solutions provide little, if any, value. I’d even go as far to say that they detract value from the overall solution.

Here are a few points which a third party software vendor may bring up which will seem enticing to you:

  • With a third party solution, you can have one centralized label template repository
  • We offer a visual label template editor
  • We can direct printing based on business data

Here is what the sales people won’t tell you about third party labeling solutions:

  • License costs are extraordinary high and repeat annually
  • Each server requires a license
    • Each server in a load balancing cluster will require a license (A license per IP address)
    • Each test/development server requires a license
  • The software requires hardware/virtual machines (VMs) to run on (which also has an additional cost)
    • Multiply it for each test/development instance
  • The software provides an additional point of failure which can be difficult to troubleshoot
  • Additional desktop software is also required, and may not be very robust
    • Precise formatting can be very difficult, or impossible
    • Even basic ZPL functions are difficult or impossible to implement
  • Some key features, like linking to data from external sources, is limited in capability
  • There’s a conflict of interest between the software quality and desire to sell consulting services
  • Zebra offers a WYSIWYG visual label template editor, for a lower price

Let me be the first to tell you; third party software is not going to make your labeling solution simple. In practice, it will likely make you want to pull your hair out.

Luckily, Oracle comes ready to print labels out of the box!  Don’t let the Loftware salesperson tell you otherwise!  Here are the steps you can take to print a label directly from Oracle; no third party systems involved.

Design a ZPL Template:

^XA
^MNW^POI^PMN^LH0,0^JMA^MD25^PQ1,0,0,N^CI0^PW812^MMT^LL406^LRY^FO20,25^GB773,0,70^FS
^FT340,80^A0N,60,60^FH^FN10^FDITEM^FS
^MCY^XZ

Save the template on your Zebra printer’s flash memory
ZebraTemplateZPL[1]

Configure your device IP address.
DeviceIP[1]

Set your profile option: ‘WMS: Label Print Mode’ = ‘Synchronous – TCP/IP’
Profile[1]

Set up your label Format and fields
(make sure the name matches the storage path on the printer)
LabelFormat

 

 

Back to the third party software benefits; are any of them true?  I don’t think so.

For one, Zebra offers software (ZebraNet Bridge Enterprise) that will push label templates to all your zebra printers in just a few clicks; making centralized label templates a moot point.  The Zebra software is only a few hundred dollars.  Once.

As mentioned before, Zebra offers label template design software (Zebra Designer) that is, in my experience, far better than a third parties software. Think of it this way, the easier Zebra makes printing labels, the more hardware/supplies your company will buy from them. On the flip side, with third party vendors like Loftware, the more complex the software, the more consulting services they can sell you.

Lastly, the ERP system, in my case, Oracle, should be robust enough to direct labels to desired printers.  If it’s not, you will likely be better off designing a custom solution in the ERP system rather than implementing a third party package, which itself will require much technical work.

With just a little work, you can be printing labels, directly from Oracle, without any need for virtual machines or complex middleware.

References

ERPschools – Oracle MSCA Label Printing
Zebra – Barcode Printing from Oracle WMS

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Oracle ER/Bug 16306627: WIP IS ISSUING ASSEMBLY PULL COMPONENTS WHEN SCRAP IS ENTERED

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

The following is entered as an enhancement request at Oracle for their E-Business R12 product.  I have tried to convince Oracle to categorize this as a bug, but have not had any luck.  If you have encountered a similar situation, please log an SR and add yourself to this “ER” and request that it be changed to a bug.

We [Emerson] have an assembly with a BOM where a component is inherited from a phantom assembly into the main assembly as an assembly pull supply type component on operation SEQ 1. The final assembly’s routing begins with operation SEQ 400. When a job is made, the component gets tied to operation SEQ 400. When a WIP move is made to the scrap step of the first operation (400), the assembly pull component is taken out of inventory.

This functionality is described as correct as per WIP User guide.

Oracle® Work in Process User’s Guide Release 12 Part No. B31092-01

When you move assemblies into the Scrap intraoperation step of an operation that has assembly pull components assigned to it, the system backflushes these components and all assembly pull components at prior operations.

This functionality does not seem to be correct. If a component is “assembly pull”, a completion takes it out of inventory at the end of the job. This means the component is acting as assembly pull for a completion, but operation pull for scrap.

If the goal is to take out inventory of assembly pull components when an assembly is completed, than it should not be tied to an operation.

Read more…

ERP and the Business of Change

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I saw an article over at SmartChange™ about ERP and the Business of Change. It got me thinking of the culture and business practices I witnessed at my last job at USG.  All three main points Marcelino Sanchez reviewed hit very close to home.

Individual Change… An individual may be confronted with a new user interface, a new “best practice”, a different way to make decisions, or any number of new requirements. When this is the case, individuals will tend to experience one or more of the following five key factors: fear, anxiety, confusion, loss of control, or erosion of power or influence in the organization. The more an individual feels any of these emotions, the less likely they are to accept the new way of doing things. Lack of acceptance will diminish or delay the benefits of the ERP effort…

Read more…

Work in Norfolk

September 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Zebra 170PAX4

I am on a slightly new project at work now. I have been working heavily on my old project getting labels applied to units of board by hand and all that goes with that in our ERP system. Now I am working with plants that have a lot of robotics get these labels applied and ERP transactions performed automatically. The plant I am at now in Norfolk Virginia is one of USG’s newest plants, well, newest board lines. Since it is so new, it has pretty much the most robotics of any of our plants, so that is really neat. We are scheduled to turn the board line on within a month, and we need to have our labeler all set by then. I am the one that is responsible to get the labeler online and transacting by the time the board line gets started.

The picture above is the printer (Zebra 170PAX4) that is part of the whole labeling system. I don’t have a picture of the entire machine, but it is really quite amazing.