Monday, 19 October 2020

Twinings Teas - SAP Warehouse Modernisation

 Twinings is a 300 year old supplier of Tea, Coffee and infusion drinks.  Their Enterprise computer system is SAP and they run the whole business on this platform. However over time the warehouse system ( SAP WM ) had been left behind and so Twinings embarked on a radical overhaul of the warehouse, its software front end into SAP and the mobile devices that they used to manage all the warehouse transactions. 

 
Alan Talbot - Projects Systems Manager tells the story of the upgrade and the benefits and efficiency that Twinings gained from the new hardware and software.


Barcode-IT take the time to fully understand your business processes and the needs and methods in the warehouse, as well as your WMS and ERP system. Making sure they the devices that you install are as perfect as possible for your operations and budget. We understand that some applications will need very rugged devices that may need to scan barcodes from a distance, while other parts of the business require smaller light industrial devices, with less intensive usage needs.

If your business needs to have a mobile device refresh or is building a new warehouse, its time to call in the professionals at Barcode-IT. Call now on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

When you really, really need a rugged Mobile Computer for the Factory or Warehouse.


There are many industrial mobile computers and terminals on the market and many "claim" to be fully rugged and fit for industrial use.  But there's rugged, as in "its a lot better than a mobile phone" and then there's really rugged, as in designed from the ground up to be capable of standing up to the harshest manufacturing, warehouse or logistics set-up.

 
 
 When the MC9090 was introduced in 2008 it was an instant hit with many large businesses running large ERP systems such as SAP and Warehouse Logistics operations.  The MC9090 redefined the Rugged Mobile computer and its a testament to their ruggedness and reliability that some units are still being used today.

The MC9300 (Android) is the latest evolution of that original concept, a hand held device that is over engineered for very active use, while still ergonomically designed to allow optimum performance for the worker.  In addition the Latest MC9300 uses an Enterprise version of Android to power through the ERP or WMS interface and provide a level of security not seen on other competing units.
 
Why Android?  Well its simple really, its because Microsoft retired hurt from the industrial mobile operating system market which is had dominated for years. Microsoft did not do well in the mobile phone market and so decided to abandon its mobile phone OS platform which left industrial device manufacturers with little choice but to move to Android. Read our Blog on "The bitter end for Windows"

Zebra Technologies were the first of the manufacturers to adopt Android and quickly realised that a "standard" version of Android would not be suitable for most corporate customers and so Zebra worked with Google and others to re-engineer a much more robust Enterprise version of Android that deals with all the security and operational issues that large corporate customers were concerned about.

Zebra MC9300 from Barcode-IT

So now in the MC9300 you have the perfect combination of robust construction, ergonomic design, lightening performance and secure operation that makes the MC9300 truly rugged and ideal for use in our high speed, deliver it tomorrow world.

Watch this video for a 90 second overview of why its the perfect rugged mobile computer for your business.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Preparing Your Business For Change: Are You Ready For Business Post COVID-19 Lockdown?


As the UK’s response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to develop, organisations are facing significant challenges and need to respond rapidly, whether that is immediately or following re-opening after lockdown. Everyone is speculating about it, but no-one really knows when the lockdown will end or what post lockdown UK will look like, especially for non-essential businesses, who are currently furloughed. 
 
 
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted to us all, just how important it is to ensure that information about illness and health is communicated efficiently. One thing we can be sure of, is that additional measures will need to be put into place within businesses to protect both staff and visitors, and prevent the further spread of this, or any other virus in the future.

Under the current regulations, the virus has made it crucial for workplaces to limit unnecessary person-to-person contact and potential transmission incidents. But once the lockdown is ended, it will become more important than ever that businesses have their own way of screening visitors and staff members coming into the building, to protect other employees and prevent further spread. If someone, who may be a risk to the health and safety of staff, enters your premises, you need to be able to identify them and take any necessary action; whether that’s to allow them entry in a controlled manner or to ask them to kindly reschedule and return at a later date dependant on your own company protocol for denying entry of high-risk individuals.

By implementing an automated entry system (Visitor Management System), businesses are able to pre-register individuals scheduled to visit site or simply ask them to answer questions at reception. This technology makes it possible to inform your visitors of site rules, PPE requirements and explain the check in process, whilst having the ability to store and recall this important information easily and quickly. Visitors can be asked questions regarding recent health issues and foreign travel, as this will be critical to mitigate the risk of any disease spreading through your business.


Barcode-IT are able to provide you with a fully digitised visitor entry solution, which can be tailored specifically to your business and any Health and Safety requirements you may have. We already supply visitor entry solutions into FMCG businesses around the UK, as it has been important for them to track visitors coming into their premises from the point of view of contamination for many years. Now the same may be the case for all businesses, so that records and information can be provided quickly to the relevant authorities, should the need arise.

If you would like to discuss the benefits of a digitised visitor entry system for your business or find out more information, please contact us on 01200 441977 or e-mail.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Security in the Cloud? How to stay safe when using Cloud applications.

We are all having our first real taste of Cloud based applications during the COVID-19 pandemic, and like all shiny new things, it's interesting and fun to try, but there are plenty of "gotchas" along the way - security being probably the most important consideration.

For example; we offer a Cloud-based labelling product called Label Cloud, which is a method of distributing the ability to print labels to remote users (anywhere in the world), using their local printer and PC as the workstation.  The beauty of this solution is that all of the important data and label designs are stored in the Cloud, so that print users can only interact with the labels and variable data that's in the Cloud, with admin functions such as label creation, connection to the information database and change control, all kept separate and not accessible by users.


Cloud Labelling solutions from Barcode-IT


This data and label information can be highly sensitive, with any mistakes; either accidental or malicious, having painful and disastrous consequences for the business in question. Imagine the trouble that thousands of product labels with rude messages could wreak on a big retail company for example.





So, whilst we are able to enjoy the powerful features of Cloud based applications and all the benefits they can bring, absolute control becomes the most important consideration. Heavy duty security, particularly on the Internet, is a very expensive game to be in and with major customers involved, all wanting an absolute guarantee, it can soon become an impossible task for all but the very largest players to compete. So, how can we ensure our customer's information is secure when hosting a Label Cloud solution?

Well, apparently we don't have to worry. When receiving my invitation to join our in-house Label Cloud demonstration, I was surprised to be asked for a Microsoft or Google email address to use as my login. Annoyed, as I didn't have either, and frankly didn't want either (yet another thing to remember!), it soon became clear why I needed one. It's so that giants like Microsoft and Google can do the "heavy lifting" on the first level of security and authentication, removing the need for additional and costly security measures.

And really, who is better qualified to undertake this difficult security task, than the two largest companies in the IT world?

This example gives us a clear indication of the future of Cloud based solutions. When setting up an account for someone in the Cloud, we won't need to store user detail or passwords, we'll simply send an invitation to a user, using their normal email address and they choose Microsoft or Google accounts to use for authentication. We never know what it is, so can't lose it or have it stolen plus Microsoft and Google act as our "Mighty Gate Keepers", while we get on with providing our customers with powerful remote labelling solutions.  Everybody wins and most importantly stays secure!

So, if you're looking to move your labelling solution into the Cloud to take advantage of the numerous benefits, don't let security concerns put you off. Call the team at Barcode-IT on 01200 441977 or e-mail sales@barcode-it.co.uk for full information and a demonstration of Cloud Labelling or any Cloud Application Deployment.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Barcode Label Printers. Its always the little things...

Our top selling mid range thermal printer, the Sato 4NX has just had an update.  Not that you would know to look at it, as all the enhancements are either invisible or too subtle to be obvious to the casual observer.  

But with label printers, as with many other technology devices, its the little things that make all the difference to the person who actually uses the printer. Higher print speed, faster processor or larger label roll size, don't mean much to the worker.  But a wide opening print head or a mechanism that does not cause "ribbon wrinkle" are the little things that make the user love their label printers.

Fortunately the new Sato CL4NX plus, has all the big features and all the little features too, so the business gets the benefits of the higher speed and amazing print quality and the worker gets the the clever design that makes his day to day operation of the printer frustration free.

Plus they both enjoy the amazing build quality and attention to detail that makes the Sato CL 4NX the best printer we have ever sold!

 


Call today and start reaping the benefits of replacing your tired old label printers with the new Sato 4NX Plus.

Sato CL 4NX - click image for PDF

Is Your Wireless Infrastructure Hurting Your Warehouse Operations?

Many Mobile devices are also designed to "WiFi roam" within the  warehouse, which means that moving between WiFi Access Points ( APs)   should not cause the signal to be dropped, but continue to work  seamlessly and continuing to send and receive information to the ERP or  WMS.  This depends on using "industrial WiFi" where the APs work behind  the scenes to manage the data so that the user is never disconnected.  True industrial mobile devices from companies such as Zebra and  Datalogic,also contain dual antennas, so that data is transmitted on one  antenna while the other is negotiating with the local APs to select the  best performance and range.



Many Mobile devices are also designed to "WiFi roam" within the  warehouse, which means that moving between WiFi Access Points ( APs)   should not cause the signal to be dropped, but continue to work  seamlessly and continuing to send and receive information to the ERP or  WMS.  This depends on using "industrial WiFi" where the APs work behind  the scenes to manage the data so that the user is never disconnected.  True industrial mobile devices from companies such as Zebra and  Datalogic,also contain dual antennas, so that data is transmitted on one  antenna while the other is negotiating with the local APs to select the  best performance and range.

If you are implementing a new WLAN, the process should start with a full  wireless site survey. The design of your WiFi network will depend on  the vendor or systems integrator knowing how the warehouse is laid out,  what potential sources of interference exist, and what types of stock  will be stored there. For highly dynamic warehouses, all potential  stocking and staffing scenarios should be considered in advance to  ensure the network can perform under all circumstances.
If you are implementing a new WLAN, the process should start with a  thorough wireless site survey. The RF design of your network will depend  on the vendor or systems integrator knowing how the warehouse is laid  out, what potential sources of interference exist, and what types of  stock will be stored there. For highly dynamic warehouses, all potential  stocking and staffing scenarios should be considered in advance to  ensure the network can perform under all circumstances.

Once the network is up and running, it should be regularly audited and  tuned. This requires additional site surveys, which can uncover new  sources of interference or additional coverage problems.


Typically, these issues may include dead zones with no coverage,  competition for bandwidth, or sluggish throughput. Depending on the  nature of the problem, you may need to increase your access point  density or increase AP power. That’s because many smaller handheld  devices don’t have enough power to effectively communicate with the  access points. The wireless infrastructure should be configured to serve  the lowest-powered mobile devices that will be used in the facility.

The network should also be designed with redundancy in mind, so that if  there is a problem with a single AP, mobile devices can quickly roam to a  neighboring AP and minimize downtime. If the wireless infrastructure  will carry voice in addition to data traffic, the network should be  configured to prioritize the more latency-sensitive voice traffic.

If your warehouse WiFi is letting your Warehouse Operation down, call for a free consultation on 01200 441977 or email sales@dashcomputer.co.uk

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

An Android cautionary tale for Industrial mobile devices.

At Barcode-IT we have embraced and love Android powered industrial and warehouse mobile computers. We have learned how best to use them and how to configure them for best customer performance.

However recently we have come across an issue that we did not anticipate and which caused our customer serious problems.

We work with this customer to choose and configure some Zebra Mobile computers, which were running an SAP S/4 Hana mobile client.  The customer was very happy and everything worked well. 

Unfortunately as is the case sometimes, for the 2nd round of supply, the customer purchasing dept. opted to buy additional devices from another supplier, who specialists in internet sales and does not offer any advice or end user assistance, (you know who I mean!).  But hey what could go wrong? They had the exact model part number that we had supplied previously and so chose the cheaper supplier.  They had our config for the mobile devices and loaded the SAP client, but immediately ran into problems, the SAP client did not work as expected, the screen did not look the same and some barcodes had missing characters at the end, or did not automatically move to the next field.

The customer complained to the SAP supplier, who quite rightly said that the same client was running on all the devices.  Eventually after trying and failing to get assistance from the internet supplier, with tail firmly between legs, they turned back to Barcode-IT to ask why our devices worked but the same device from the other supplier did not.

After agreeing a fee to examine this problem (which was probably more that the saving made buying from the big internet supplier ) our technicians found the problem.  The Android version was a higher revision on the new devices!  Same part number, identical config, but some subtle difference in the underlying OS was changing the way that the SAP client interacted with the mobile device.

It was not the SAP software suppliers fault, his SAP client could be made to work on either device, but with slightly different configs, for how the screen was displayed and how the barcode scanner sent data to the software. We gave the customer two options, run the devices with two different configs ( a potential nightmare for the future ) or downgrade the new device to the original version of Android, which is fortunately possible, thanks to Zebra's Enterprise grade products.

Remember, Android is a mobile phone operating system underneath and is updated much more often than an Enterprise industrial mobile device.

Two big points to take from this tale.
  1. Use a supplier who understands your system and is certified by the manufacturer to manage and configure your industrial mobile devices. Not a box shifted!
  2. Just because its a later version of Android does not mean its better for your business.  There may be no advantage at all. Sometimes it's "better the devil you know!"
At Barcode-IT we stage all the devices before delivery, ensure the Android is the same version as that tested in the field and config the devices to be ready to work immediately.  Something that all good suppliers should do.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Create Barcode Labels Fast! Do's and Don'ts

Barcode Label Printing - Retail - Industrial and Warehouse
Tips and Best Practice

Barcode label printing can seem a very complex process, with labelling standards, barcode size and quality to worry about, and on top of that the label printer, label material and barcode print quality.

While this whole process may seem daunting, actually a few simple rules govern the use and printing of barcode labels and a professional specialist business should be able to guide you to the right solution.
Complex barcode label
So the real advise is, Use a Professional Supplier to buy the whole solution.  Avoid buying the separate items, Software, Printers, Labels, Ribbons for different suppliers.

The reason for this thinking is that without understanding the whole process of what you need barcode labels for, what your business is and what the labels are used for, it's impossible to specify the right combination of products.

 Do's and Don'ts -  Barcode label printing

  • Do speak to the supplier about the whole project, explaining what the barcodes are for, how the labels will be used and what industry your business serves.  There may be strict rules about the use of some barcode labels. Some customers will fine you if you get it wrong!
  • Do find out how many labels per day you will print, as this will affect what model of label printer you should buy. Large volumes of labels need industrial, faster, bigger printers.
  • Do use your ERP to print labels directly, if the ERP supports barcode label printing, many such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics and Sage will print barcode labels directly.
  • Do make it easy for workers to print labels by using "smart" labelling software that does all the work for them.
  • Do buy a support contract for the software and the label printers. Production stops when you can't print labels.

  • Don't make assumptions about the labels, experts will explain about short life DT (direct thermal) labels and long life TT (thermal transfer) labels and when to use each.
  • Don't make a different label design for each of your products, use software that will connect to a database and pull variable data directly from your ERP or data system.
  • Don't buy the cheapest Barcode Label Software and expect it to print complex labels with variable elements, such as GS1 128 - EAN 13 - SSCC - any 2D barcodes or for pharma or medical applications.
  • Don't buy your labelling software from the cheapest supplier, you will almost certainly need help and training to get the best out of your system

So if you are ready to implement a sophisticated barcode label printing solution, just pickup the phone and call the professionals at Barcode-IT on 01200 441977, or send us an email to sales@barcode-it.co.uk. 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

MobileNav and Zebra TC 8000 perfect partners for Warehouse operations in Navision and Dynamics 365

MobileNav and Zebra TC 8000 perfect partners for Navision Warehouse operations.

MobileNav is the perfect tool to allow your workers and users to have the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics NAV or Microsoft Dynamics 365 on the move.  In the warehouse, in manufacturing or anywhere in your business, MobileNav lets you do business transactions on the move.

Most Navision users find that the Warehouse is one of the most important areas of the business to benefit from MobileNav which fully supports warehousing workflow, allowing your warehouse employees to perform their tasks on mobile devices quickly and effectively, making paper-based working obsolete. Thanks to the state-of-the-art barcode reading registration, errors totally disappear. The Inventory menu of the application allows you to track the items in your warehouse. You can access your up-to-date stock information (Bin Content, Serial No., Lot No., Expiration Date, etc.).

And to complement MobileNav the recommended mobile device is the TC8000/ TC8300  from Zebra technologies.

Up to 33% lighter than traditional models to reduce muscle fatigue among workers

Designed to face the user while scanning, the larger screen eliminates the need to tilt and verify each scan, increasing efficiency on every scan.

VIRTUAL KEYBOARD
The all-touch keyboard allows users to type up to
40% faster with
60% fewer errors
compared to traditional push-button keyboards.

The TC 800 is a very special warehouse mobile device. It’s the ground-breaking all new warehouse mobile computer designed to deliver revolutionary productivity increases in the warehouse. In fact, on average, it saves 14%* per worker versus traditional form factors – it’s like gaining an extra hour of productivity, per worker, per day.

And it’s the only device on the market that simplifies it all — how your workers physically use the device and interact with your warehouse application.

For a live demo of MobileNav on the TC 8000 or a discussion on your mobile device options, call the Barcode-IT Sales Team on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Hands On - Barcode Scanning with ProGlove

Hands Free Barcode Scanning

As the scanning of barcodes, both 1D and 2D, is becoming present in every aspect of the manufacturing, warehouse and logistics processes, so the barcode scanner has evolved to make it easier for the worker to carry out both the industrial or logistics task and capture the task's data by scanning barcodes. Scanners have changed from corded to wireless to allow operator freedom, but the simple human effort to deal with a hand held device in the form of a barcode scanner, while doing the job, causes some problems that until now have not been addressed.

Until now barcode scanners have needed to be carried around and held in a particular way to allow barcodes to be scanned. This disables the worker from any sort of product handling that needs two hands and and makes it awkward to carry out high speed tasks.

Wearable barcode scanners have been around for some years, but early models are heavy and clumsy to use.

Now there is a new barcode scanner from ProGlove, which has been specifically designed to solve all of these issues. Worn as a full or half glove (made to a proper industrial spec) the ProGlove is super light and easy for the operator to use and the battery lasts 15 hours - (about 6000 scans) 



Major businesses are already using ProGlove, in fact almost every European car manufacturer uses ProGlove including BMW and VW Group. Also used in retail, warehouse and logistics. See a Video success story from Volkswagen here

For an on-site demonstration or a chat to discuss a project, please call Jonathan Pressley on 01200 441977. https://www.barcode-it.co.uk/wearable-mobile-computers.htm