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Label Printing Strategies

原创 Linux操作系统 作者:susie0409 时间:2012-04-11 10:40:45 0 删除 编辑
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oracle WMS and MSCA have robust label printing capabilities built into the
product to easily produce compliance labels at any point in the business process
and with any data. Oracle works with two types of label printing partners – directto-
printer, and print server – to provide the full end-to-end solution, and each of
these partners have different strengths. This white paper discusses the advantages
of each of the partners, as well as the inherent pros and cons of each of the two
overarching architectures.
INTRODUCTION
Oracle WMS produces label XML files as part of a transaction or event, such as a
purchase order receipt, pick confirmation, work order completion, or license plate
generation.
To print the Oracle generated label XML, you will always need the actual label
printers, as well as a label design application (LDA) to define the graphical layout of
the variable and boilerplate data. These solutions differ, however, on whether the
marriage of the XML to that format occurs within the printer firmware with no
other middleware, or in a separate print server application. Direct-to-print label
printers that natively understand Oracle’s XML allow you to directly print the
Oracle generated label XML without any middleware or print server. The print
servers, on other hand, add an intermediary layer between Oracle Applications and
actual label printer. Although the print servers introduce an additional partner and
added implementation cost, they also provides significant value in the areas of print
management, label configuration and manipulation, error management and Internet
printing.
Oracle supports two types of label printing configurations:
1. Printing using a third party label software and a print server
2. Printing using XML enabled Direct Label Printers.
The printing strategy selection depends on several factors – ROI, real time latency,
need for compliance labeling, printer models in current use, volume of labels to be
printed, network infrastructure et al. To reiterate, each additional layer between
Oracle WMS and the printer gives you additional flexibility, while also generally
also meaning additional complexity and cost.
Label Printing Page 2
It is worthwhile to note that with each subsequent release of Oracle, as well with
continuous improvements made by our partners, the lines between these two
approaches blur in their current capabilities, while the print server partners
typically add additional advanced capabilities. For instance, a subsequent release of
Oracle may include “customizable label fields” or standardized printer support,
while a subsequent release of firmware from an XML Direct partner may include
capabilities of the printer to directly make an ODBC call to pull in additional data.
As the footprint of the solution and the partners capabilities – as well as your
requirements – evolve, be sure to evaluate the latest offering from each partner.
PRINT SERVER SOLUTIONS
This strategy requires you to have a configuration of Oracle WMS, third party label
printing software, print server and a network of printers. The LDA allows you to
define the different label formats that need to be printed, as well as manage the
library of formats for an enterprise printing solution. The print server manages the
print queue, comes with necessary printer drivers and the printer parameters
associated with them. Finally, the label printer actually prints the label. The label
printer can be from any vendor supported by the print server. Typically, the LDA
and print server come same the vendor.
This strategy is recommended when you have a high volume of labels to print from
each printer, and also is often simpler to maintain when the label formats change
frequently. The LDA or related application sometimes enables you to configure the
label with the content being derived from many sources, where the Oracle XML
forms just one such source. A print server partner is usually recommended when
the Oracle XML needs to be manipulated beyond the capabilities of standard
Oracle functionality prior to printing, such as to pull in additional data elements,
split an individual label request into multiple labels, or control the destination
printer beyond Oracle’s basic rules. Many of the third party label software will allow
you to custom program a label in these – and other – ways. Third party label print
software will use Oracle XML as the primary data sources for the label fields,
executing additional logic or ODBC calls as required.
Another use of these extended capabilities from the print server partners is to
compensate for the fact that Oracle MSCA lacks an inbuilt rules engine like Oracle
WMS to determine the label to be printed. However, some label printing software
help you to configure rules to determine the label to be printed and manipulation
of the label.
This strategy is also recommended when you have printers from multiple
manufacturers in a single site that all need to print a single format, as only some of
the printers in your facility may be able to support XML directly, and furthermore,
each of the Direct-to-Printer partners uses different LDAs that produce different
pre-compiled output that may need to be loaded to the printers in different ways
and using different tools. Additionally, the advanced queuing / print job
management capabilities make this a preferred option when more than two or three
Label Printing Page 3
users need to concurrently print large batches of labels from a single printer. While
the print server partners may require an additional investment in software licenses
and implementation costs, when you have characteristics such as those above that
require the features of these partners, your total cost of ownership will actually be
lower than trying to use the simpler architecture of the Direct-to-XML printers
With third party software you have two choices of integration with Oracle WMS –
asynchronous mode and synchronous mode. If supported by the partner, you can
leverage one of two synchronous printing modes.
Asynchronous mode of architecture is simplest to set up and debug, as there is a
clear external record of the label request. In asynchronous mode, Oracle WMS
generate a label XML and drops it in a specified directory. Third party label
software monitors this directory for new XML files and processes them.
Figure 1 – Asynchronous label printing
Disadvantages of asynchronous printing include latency, possible security issues to
FTP files across servers if print server running on different platform, and no
possibility for response. To set this up, you need to set the profiles - ‘WMS Label
Print Mode’ to ‘Asynchronous’ and define ‘WMS Label output directory’ and
‘WMS Label File Prefix’.
In Synchronous mode of integration, Oracle WMS generates a label XML and
sends it directly to the partner via one of two synchronous methods. In the first
method, the integration is via an API implemented by the third party application
that replaces an empty stub provided by Oracle. Third party software processes this
XML and prints the XML. You need to set the profiles - ‘WMS Label Print Mode’
to ‘Synchronous – Generic’.
Optional
Oracle WMS places the
XML file in a specified
Directory.
Print Server / Other tool
monitors the specified directory
and picks up the XML
Print server / Other
tool modifies the XML
Print server maps the XML to the
label format and generates print
stream in printers proprietary
language
Printer prints the label.
Label Printing Page 4
Figure 2 – Synchronous label printing
Optionally, you can set ‘WMS Label Print Mode’ to ‘Synchronous – TCP/IP’ and
define the IP address and port on which the print server is listening. ‘Synchronous
TCP/IP’ is easier to implement than ‘Synchronous Generic’ as there are no
packages to load to the database, but it does not yet provide a mechanism for a
print server response, as supported by ‘Synchronous Generic’.
XML DIRECT PRINTER
In this strategy Oracle WMS sends the XML directly to the printer. The label
printer is capable of receiving XML that meets Oracle’s label specification and
merges with pre-defined label formats to print a label.
This strategy can be easily deployed when the Oracle XML does not need any
manipulation to produce the label desired. The volume of printing and the number
of users that would need to print concurrently to a single printer is also a factor.
For instance, when more than three or four users may trigger simultaneous requests
to print to a single printer, the number of available connections on some of the
printers may be exceeded, or for large jobs, the buffers may overflow. While
Oracle provides multiple mechanisms for reprinting so that the jobs are not lost,
these volume and concurrency considerations should be included in evaluating the
XML Direct printers against each other, and against a print server partner. With
some XML Direct partners, XML-enabled printers are only supported on their
flagship printer models, so that you may pay a premium for this capability. On the
other hand, all XML Direct printers to date are capable of running both modes,
whereby they can parse both XML from Oracle and the print stream in their
proprietary language, typically without any change in configuration, and typically,
also simultaneously, so the same printer can be used in multiple ways, and you can
easily change to a print server as your requirements grow.
The XML Direct strategy calls for pre-loading the printers with label formats. Since
there is no centralized print server, every time you add a printer to the network, you
need to load the required label formats, and every time you add a format, you need
Optional
Oracle WMS calls
Synchronous API and
pushes the XML to
print server / other tool
Print Server prints the
label at the specified
printer
Print server / Other
tool modifies the XML
Print server maps the XML to the
label format and generates print
stream in printers proprietary
language
Label Printing Page 5
to add it to all the printers. Some partners have printer management software to aid
in this decentralized approach.
Figure 3 – XML Direct Printer
XML direct printers work with both Synchronous TCP/IP and Synchronous
Generic mode of printing. To enable to print in TCP/IP mode, you need to set
‘WMS Label Print Mode’ to ‘Synchronous – TCP/IP’ and define the TCP/IP IP
address and port number for each printer in the network.
XML PUBLISHER
Using XML publisher, you can configure your label layout in MS Word and map
the data content to Oracle XML. You can print these labels on normal printers.
However, you cannot deploy Oracle XML publisher as a printing solution because
it does not have printer drivers for industrial label printers like Zebra, Intermec etc.,
PARTNERS
Note: Please verify content presented in this section with the partner before you
start your implementation.
Note that as Oracle has moved to a self-certification approach for new label
printing partners, it is possible for additional solutions to work with Oracle without
necessarily being listed here; please confirm with the partner that they have
completed the self-certification process.
Following table lists the possible integration modes possible for each vendor:
Oracle WMS passes XML
request through a TCP / IP
socket connection to Printer
Printer merges the data in the
XML into pre-defined label
format and prints the label
Synchronous
Asynchronous
Generic TCP / IP
Loftware Yes Yes Yes
Optio Yes No No
NiceLabel Yes No Yes
Print Server
Unibar Yes No Yes
Zebra No Yes Yes
Intermec No No Yes
Cognitive Solutions No No Yes
Datamax No No Yes
Toshiba TEC No No Yes
Printronix Yes No Yes
Partners
XML
Direct
Printers
Sato No No Yes
Label Printing Page 6
Following is the list of label printing partners and their offerings. The list of printer models
in the following table may not be up-to-date. Please check with vendor for recent information.
See Appendix A for the capabilities of each partner.
CONCLUSION
You need to carefully evaluate your label printing needs before zeroing in a
configuration. Many customers opt to use a print server partner if you have to
customize the label or if you prefer to centrally manage your entire label formats,
while customers that have no need for XML manipulation prior to printing
typically opt for XML Direct printers. However, with each release from Oracle, and
with each update from our printing partners, the lines between these two
approaches are blurring, and should spend the time evaluating which approach is
best for your requirements.
Print Server Printer
(not a complete list of all printer models.
Check with vendor for more information)
Other Tools
( e.g.,Label Design Application, Label
Loaders etc., )
Loftware Loftware Print Server Various printer manufacturers & models Loftware Connector,
Loftware Design 32
Optio Optio Print Manager Various printer manufacturers & models Optio e.ComIntegrate
NiceLabel NiceLabel Pro Various printer manufacturers & models NiceLabel Pro
Unibar BARCODE 2000 XML Various printer manufacturers & models BARZ_OUT PRO
Zebra None Zebra Xi III ZebraNet Bridge,
BAR-ONE
Intermec None EasyCoder (3400 D, 4420e…) LabelShop Pro,
Label Loader utility
Cognitive Solutions None Advantage LX NiceLabel,
Cognitive In Control
DataMax None I-4308, I-4208, DMX ST-3210, I-4212, I-
4406, W-6208
Loftware Connector,
Loftware Design 32,
BARZ_OUT PRO
Printronix None ThermaLine Printers (T5206 / T5306..) NiceLabel Pro,
Loftware Connector,
Loftware Design 32
Toshiba TEC None Toshiba TEC Printers B-SX4T, B-SX5T…
PrintSystem for XML
Sato None Sato Thermal Printers (CL412e, CL612e…) Label Gallery Plus, WPC Plus
Vendors
Configurations
Print
Server
XML
Direct
Printers
Label Printing Page 7
APPENDIX A – LIST OF LABEL PRINTING PARTNERS
Loftware
Loftware Connector is a Java based tool that provides direct connectivity between
Oracle WMS and the Loftware Print Server. With Loftware Connector, you can
add new data elements to their labels and connect to the Loftware Print Server, as
well as manipulate the label request from Oracle in a variety of complex ways. The
improved connectivity centralizes label printing operations across the enterprise,
regardless of the number or type of printers being used, or their geographical
location around the world.
Optio
Optio e.ComIntegrate product captures Oracle information such as documents and
reports, enhances it into formats needed by various recipients, and delivers it
electronically and via print. You can configure a label like any other document in
your enterprise in Optio e.ComIntegrate. Optio is a good candidate if you want to
lower the total cost of handling and printing both documents and labels from
Oracle e-Business Suite. Currently, note that Optio only supports the
asynchronous integration mode.
NiceLabel
NiceLabel Pro is a full-featured labeling software designed for professional label
design and printing in a low cost package. With NiceLabel Pro you can directly
connect to Oracle WMS in ‘Synchronous TCP/IP’ mode to print labels in real
time. You can print the labels only on those printers which use Windows printer
drivers, though typically all label printer manufacturers have Windows printer
drivers available.
Unibar
Unibar’s BARCODE 2000 XML offers streamlined system architecture of Oracle
WMS label XML printing in a very low cost package. BARCODE 2000 XML can
optionally reside on the same machine that hosts Oracle e-Business Suite and can
print a label on any printer that communicates with the host. It can be viewed as a
print server without any queue management and error handling mechanism.
BARCODE 2000 XML comes with a native XML interface that can be used for to
design bar code labels.
Zebra
You can deploy Zebra thermal printers for printing all your labels. However, Zebra
Technologies has embedded an XML parser in its XML-enabled XiIIIPlus printers,
so that the printer without additional middleware or server hardware natively
understands the output from Oracle WMS and MSCA. ZebraNet Bridge simplifies
Label Printing Page 8
managing a distributed network of printers by allowing you to easily publish a new
format to all or some printers at once.
Intermec
You can deploy Intermec printers for printing labels with any of the configurations
suggested in this paper. At the time of publishing this paper, Intermec has yet to
come out with a XML enabled direct print printer. Intermec has a ‘Label Loader
Utility’, an easy-to-use wizard that guides you through loading the formats to the
printers and then testing the format with a generic XML file.
Cognitive Solutions
You can print labels directly with Advantage LX range of printers. However, you
need to have knowledge of Cognitive Programming language (CPL) to filter the
incoming data and map it the label file stored in the memory of the printer. You
can use Nicelabel for designing your label formats.
Datamax
You can print labels directly with I-Class and W-Class printers from DataMax.
However, you need to have knowledge of Macro Command Language (MCL) to
process the incoming label XML and map it to the label formats stored in the
printer memory. For label design and print server, DataMax partners with
Loftware.
Printronix
Printronix offers direct thermal industrial label printer with its T5000r range of
printers. It has a pre-installed interpreter either from Zebra, TEC, Intermec or
SATO. You can optionally install ‘Online Data Validation’ (ODV) to validate your
compliance labels. For example, a label field is compulsory and the label XML has a
NULL value, then ODV will prevent the printer from printing the label and returns
an error.
SATO
You can directly print your labels using CL408e, CL412E, CL608e and CL612e
range of printers. You can optionally install Web Based Printer Control Server
(WPC Server) to control your printers and load labels into the network of SATO
printers. You can also optionally install Label Gallery Plus to design labels.
Toshiba TEC
You can deploy Toshiba TEC printers for printing all your labels. However
Toshiba TEC printers are XML-Direct printers so that no additional middleware or
server hardware is needed for labe printing from Oracle WMS and MSCA.

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