Tuesday, 12 February 2019

SAP S/4HANA - Printing complex barcode labels

A number of requests from customers with SAP S/4HANA, about barcode label printing has required us to think about the needs of our SAP customers printing complex barcode labels.  Here are some thoughts and solutions.

SAP is a very large ERP supplier and serves a number of industry segments and in this case the request is to print barcode labels directly from within an SAP standard transaction.

Normally this would be handled by the SAP spooler system and printed to a pre-designated label printer on the network.  But in an increasing number of cases, the complex and changing nature of the labelling requirement means that the normal methods of creating barcode labels "inside SAP" become unworkable, too expensive or have excessive SAP development time.

One very powerful solution is NiceLabel LMS Enterprise, that has a built in SAP application that captures the variable data needed from SAP to print labels and converts it into a format that allows LMS to merge this data into a label template and instantly print it to a local or remote barcode label printer.

NiceLabel LMS Enterprise is a Certified SAP Solution

This approach frees the business from having to have specialist ABAP programmers constantly having to understand and encode new or changed barcode labels, which can take days and lots of trial and error to accomplish an acceptable label to GS1 or similar standards.

The beauty of the NiceLabel system is that up until the point of printing, the SAP transaction is identical, then the NiceLabel ABAP script captures the standard transaction data and converts it into a XML stream.  This XML stream is then used as a variable data source for a user designed label template and converted "on-the-fly" into text and barcode fields on the label.  Non variable data, such as logos, fixed text, lines, boxes etc, are all stored in the NiceLabel template, so require no SAP input.

The label template design and the link to the SAP data is all user level work, once the ABAP package is installed, the designer is free to assign any SAP field to a text or barcode element, or combine multiple fields into a single element, in a simple to use Windows label design package.

Even very complex labels and barcodes can be created by the designer, with no programming skills whatsoever.  An example would be a 2D barcode to the GS1 Datamatrix standard, which can contain multiple fields ( GTIN + Serial + Batch + Expiry + Qty) merged into a single 2D barcode.  Easy in NiceLabel.
Another time saving feature is that "every" variable field within an SAP transaction is passed into the XML stream and these can be added to a label design template as variable fields. Not every field needs to be included, but if later a new element is required on the label, editing the template will allow the designer to add any unused field to the labels, without making any changes to the SAP transaction or ABAP script.

The design of the labels and templates is very easy and anyone used to Microsoft Office can be quickly trained in its use. NiceLabel supports every barcode type and contains wizards to guide designers through the process of creating industry standard such as GS1, EAN 128 and many more, including complex barcodes such as SSCC Pallet labels.

Another advantage of using the NiceLabel SAP solution, is that it is not limited to using a dedicated label printer language, such as Zebra ZPL ( a common SAP printer driver ).  Using Windows drivers, specially developed by NiceLabel and freely available for ALL makes and models of label printers, means that changing the make of printer does not require a change in software or any developer time, just a change in printer driver.  The NiceLabel printers drivers are free and are often better than manufacturers own windows drivers, in fact many manufacturers buy their drivers from NiceLabel, which is a very good recommendation.

For an in depth look at how your business can benefit from using NiceLabel LMS for SAP, call our SAP specialist team at Barcode-IT.  sales@barcode-it.co.uk   01200 441977.

You will get some straight answers and a real understanding of the Pros and Cons of the different methods of printing barcode labels from within SAP.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Printing Barcode Labels from SAP Business One

A number of customers have been in touch regarding the printing of barcode labels from SAP Business One ( SAP B1).  It seems that there is some confusion about this product and many customer are mixing up SAP S4/HANA ( a massive ERP system used by very large businesses) with SAP B1, designed for SME ( Small & Medium Enterprises)

Its good news however, as NiceLabel 2019 fully supports SAP B1 with PowerForms Suite and is available in licenses for 3-5-10 printers and addon packs of 5 printers.

So any product or shipping labels can be printed with data directly from your SAP B1 system and can be used by an operator using a Print Form created using NiceLabel or printed automatically upon an event in SAP B1 using NiceLabel Automation ( a component of PowerForms Suite )

To discuss your SAP B1 barcode label printing application or ask about Automatic label printing from within SAP B1, call one of our team for a costing and a demo of the solution, on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk

We also specialise in barcode labels printers and will recommend the perfect label printer for your SAP B1 application.
Sato NX Barcode Label Printers

2D or not 2D (barcodes or course!)

2D barcodes, such as QR and Datamatrix, have been around now for a long time and with fast reading and the ability to withstand transit damage, they are the perfect way to carry quite large amounts of data.

But if that's the case, why have they not been more widely used until recently?  The simple answer is the technology to read them has until been too expensive.  Simple barcodes can be read with a scanning laser or simple LED, which while rare and expensive when invented are now so commonplace that they are in many household devices and so have become very cheap.
QR Code - 2D barcode
However 2D barcodes need a different approach , where the whole barcode image is captured in one go, either by a camera, like when you use an iPhone, or using a simple camera like device called an Imager.

This has now caused an explosion in interest in  2D barcodes with many barcode scanners reading both 1D and 2D barcodes as standard. In fact 2D codes are now becoming so easy to read that many websites are advertised with a large QR code that can be read with any mobile phone.

But for commercial applications in the real world of products and logistics, it has been the adoption of Worldwide standards that has leveraged the power of 2D barcodes, using the ability to encode large amounts of data, that can be easily captured.

One example of this is the recent use of DataMatrix 2D codes to record individual serial numbers on prescription drugs and pharmaceuticals. From 2019 all drugs must have a serial number that uniquely identifies the specific box being dispensed. This is so that counterfeit drugs and black market pharmaceuticals can be identified and kept out of the drugs market. Only made possible by the use of 2D barcodes, in this case DataMatrix.
Other important applications include the routing of parcels and tracking data in the warehouse.

For further information on 2D barcodes and how they might impact your business, call the sales team at Barcode-IT on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Dexterity WMS allows a Lancashire business to expand.

Since implementing Dexterity WMS from Barcode-IT, GFW Limited, a furniture distributor based in Lancashire, have been able to increase stock within their warehouse, improve accuracy and win new business with major customers. This is as a result of their ability to accurately and quickly ship goods to end users, made possible by Dexterity WMS using mobile barcode scanners and printers.

GFW began to see the benefits of the warehouse management system almost immediately and after six months, they were able to increase warehouse capacity by 45-50% and daily order throughput increased by 15%, without picking or shipping errors.

When GFW moved premises to a much larger facility, it became obvious that their existing system and bespoke development in Sage software, wouldn't be sufficient to help them grow their business and keep up with demand. On making the decision to upgrade to Sage 200, Jon Ponsonby, Director at GFW, began searching for a solution to fulfill their current and future business needs and he found Dexterity WMS from Barcode-IT.

"This month has been our busiest month on record! This is something that just wouldn't have been possible without the Dexterity WMS solution, and to be honest I don't think we've seen the biggest benefits the system will bring yet, so I'm confident about the future!"

- Jon Ponsonby, Director at GFW Limited.

Growing their business would mean supplying into large online furniture retailers, as well as high street shops and GFW Limited would need to be able to deal with multiple sales and distribution channels when processing orders on a day to day basis. This meant that finding a stock management solution that could handle complex dispatch rules, as well as providing full accuracy and efficiency benefits.

Every business has different needs within the warehouse and although all installations of Dexterity WMS contain the same basic WMS processes, the way each process is undertaken varies slightly from project to project. A major selling point for GFW is the requirement to print a carrier labels and delivery notes at the point of picking. This ensures that the delivery label is affixed to the box when picked, so there can be no mix up at point of dispatch.  Also Dexterity books the consignment directly with the carrier, removing another task when shipping.  This is increasingly becoming a much sought after feature in Dexterity, especially for On-Line suppliers who may be using multiple carriers to ship hundreds of orders per day, many requiring a specific carrier and delivery service.
At GFW, Zebra QLn mobile printers are used to allow warehouse operatives to print carrier labels and dispatch notes at the point of picking. This eliminates labelling errors and reduces the overall time taken to dispatch an order, by removing the need to take the items back to a fixed position printer or pre-print the labels and match up them to the correct item. 

For more information on how Dexterity WMS could provide a solution for your business, contact Jim Southern on 01200 441977 or email sales@barcode-it.co.uk