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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

Outlook 2010 PDF Handler

May 8, 2015 1 comment

For several months I have been getting the message in Outlook 2010 that there was no PDF Handler.  I decided to do something about it today. I tried for about an hour.  One of the steps I took was to “repair” Office.  That required me to restart my computer, something I seldom do because of  how long it takes to do so, even with a Core i7.  The repair didn’t solve anything.

One thing I read online was to go into Adobe Acrobat reader and make sure some check-box was unchecked.  When I opened it up from the start menu, it starting going through some finalizing installation steps.  That seemed strange since I have been opening PDFs for some time now. I guess opening it directly is slightly different than opening the program by double-clicking a PDF file.  I got to the check-box and it was already unchecked.

I opened Outlook again, and my PDF Handler worked!  Apparently all it took was opening Adobe Acrobat Reader XI from the start menu.  What a crazy simple fix!

Oracle Support Quality

March 25, 2015 1 comment

I have had an Oracle Service Request (SR) open for 3 years now. The request has to do with how slow several security based objects are to be displayed when a user is set up using Oracle’s newer RBAC (Role Base Access Control) security structure.  Right now we are working on is the list of concurrent requests.

The SR was originally opened as a severity 2.  About a year into the SR, one of my DBAs had some work to do on it and was getting poor response from Oracle support, so he raised the severity to 1.  It has been at severity 1 for about 2 years now.

I have gotten several patches from Oracle.  The first one we applied showed no change in performance at all.  When they released the second patch, I insisted they provide details of what the improvement was so I could confirm A) it actually did improve, and B) they have actually replicated the problem internally.  I didn’t want to waste our DBA team’s time applying an alpha stage patch that has been untested.

I never got the proof that the patch was tested.  I gave up and had the patch applied. The patch broke the security all together; a user would have no access to concurrent requests at all.  Yes it was fast, but it didn’t work.

A third patch was released; it fixed the security, so at least the user would get access, but the performance was 50% slower than an un-patched system.

For several months I have been asking for updates on the SR every week or so, and it get the standard “we are working on it” or “requested status from development” response.

I have poked the bear, per-say, this last week by asking for some manger interaction.  Take a look at the latest response I got from them:

3-year-sr3

Note in the title of the SR I mentioned “W/RBAC.”  The first question in this SR update is “Are you using RBAC model to define security?”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Oracle WMS RUP 11 Included Patches

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Finding patches that are included as a part of Oracle WMS RUP 11 is not as simple as it could be, so here is a list:

Patch 20187263

Patch R12.WMS.B.delta.11: Logistics Consolidated RUP11 (VERSION 12.1.1 TO 12.1.3 [RELEASE 12.1])

The following bugs are fixed by this patch:

Read more…

Working Effectively with Customers on Oracle Service Requests

April 3, 2014 3 comments

Working with Oracle Support is frequently frustrating and difficult.  Very often Service Requests analysts post updates asking for customer’s to refer to an internal document, stating: “The following note can enhance your experience with Global Customer Services: Note: 166650.1 : Working Effectively With Support.”  At this point, I have determined I need to do something similar.

Here is my list to keep in mind to effectively work with customers:

  • Before asking a questions or asking for data, review entire SR and it’s attachments to make sure it has not already been provided. If another SR is referenced, please include that in your review.
  • Consult Oracle internal experts rather than asking customer how a module works.
  • Do not give statements that may be untrue or are assumptions.
  • Test all solutions in an internal, Oracle, instance before asking customer to try the solutions. Video evidence of testing may be requested.
  • Provide all files in an industry standard formats. Customers should not be required to download proprietary software or codecs.
  • Review all files before attaching
  • Video files must be understandable, and easy to follow.  A beginner should be able to replicate the same actions portrayed in the video.
  • Do not constantly indicate that an SR is not responded to within a certain period of time. The same courtesy will be given to you.
  • Development instances will not be cloned onto production.
  • An SR will not be opened per instance.
  • The solution “that is a limitation of the software” or “that is how it works” is not acceptable.
  • If documentation does not match the application’s functionality, only a “bug” will be a satisfactory solution.
  • If configuration requirements are missing from documentation, and assumed, it is inherently irreverent.  And any undesired functionality must be considered a bug.
  • Documents on My Oracle Support are not considered documentation unless referenced in the customers software version’s User Guide or Implementation Guide available at publication/release date.
  • It is Oracle support’s responsibility to coordinate between Oracle divisions/module development teams.
  • Analysts should not expect customer to have direct Unix level access to complete testing or diagnostic work.  SQL Plus is considered direct Unix access.
  • Any dates or times should be expressed in the customer’s time zone.
  • It is the responsibility of an Oracle Analyst to provide a sufficient hand-off of SRs to subsequent analysts.  Questions resulting from poor SR transitions may be responded to in a harsh manor.
  • Please honor the requested communications method listed on the SR. Any communication initiated that does not match the requested communications method may be treated as if it never happened, unless it is agreed that that method may be used by both parties.

All of these are based on actual experiences.

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…

Fixed: Adding an Asset Group (Oracle EAM)

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I have been testing Oracle Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) at work to check if it can replace one of our legacy systems.  When testing I came across an error that took me days to solve.  I finally found the problem!

Conditions

  • Oracle Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) in Oracle E-Business suite R12
  • Adding a new Asset Group

Symptoms

  • Receive error on save
Insert Procedure Failed with the following error message: 12746302

Problem

  • Oracle was creating a new item based on the @Asset Group template
  • Profile option INV: Default Primary Unit of Measure was set to NULL

Solution

  1. Add a UOM of EA (Each) to the @Asset Group item template
  2. [or] Add EA (Each) as the value for the profile option  INV: Default Primary Unit of Measure

For business reasons, we cannot have a default UOM, so we will likely choose option 1.