While the KnarrTek tracking software can perform all of its materials tracking functions using pre-printed rolls of license-plate tracking barcodes, it is sometimes required that the system quickly and efficiently print barcode labels for incoming materials, finished products and the packing materials used to ship these products to customers.
It is essential that this barcode labeling be performed without a lot of manual data entry, which takes time and can cause mistakes.
With the TAG option, when a user is entering materials into inventory using a PC or a mobile computer, they can request that labels can be printed out as part of the data entry transaction. The label is then printed out automatically on the designated barcode printer. This can be on a desktop printer or on a wireless printer attached to the belt of a mobile worker or located in cradle on his fork-lift truck.
The TAG software consists of a rules-based expert system, which runs on the tracking webserver, and software that runs on a Windows Workstation in each plant.
TAG uses Artificial Intelligence rules to prevent employees from making mistakes by choosing the wrong label to print or of entering the wrong data into that label. When a user requests a label to be printed, the BellHawk rules use information such as the Customer, Item, Container Type, and Quality Control status to automatically select the correct label and quantity of duplicate labels to be printed out.
When a user makes a label-printing request through the web browser interface of a mobile or desktop device, the tracking software retrieves the needed data to be shown on the label from the tracking database, including user defined parameter data, and places this in a label printing queue in the database.
The TAG software running in each local plant picks up the label printing requests for printers in its plant, from the webserver, through its web-services interface, and then formats the labels and outputs the data to the selected printer over the local area network.
The TAG LabelPrint software, running in a local Windows Workstation, works in conjunction with BarTender Automation from Seagull Scientific, which provides printer drivers for a wide-range of barcode printers and RFID labelers. KnarrTek tracking systems also use BarTender's label layout capabilities to allow users to create labels in a wide variety of formats for a wide variety of media.
BarTender Automation can only efficiently drive barcode printers connected to PCs, or connected directly to the LAN, in the manufacturing plant, warehouse, or other facility in which BarTender is used. This is because transmitting the labels requires a large amount of data to be sent over the newtork.
The TAG LabelPrint software only needs to retrieve the small amount of variable data, to be put on the barcode labels, over the Internet. It then merges this with the label format data, which is stored locally on the workstation, to generate a large amount of data to be sent at high speed over the LAN or wireless LAN to the printer.
In this way, labels, which contain data from the tracking database can be rapidly printed out in multiple manufacturing plants or warehouses, even though the tracking database is located at a remote data-center, which could be thousands of miles away.
Users can use this same mechanism to pre-print a set of labels, ready to attach to a set of items or containers. The information about these items, such as part numbers and lot numbers, is entered when the set of labels is requested, so that this information can be printed on the label in human readable format.
These labels do not become active until the tracking barcode on them is scanned to record the items or containers into inventory. At this time the previously entered data is picked up from the database for each label and transferred to the item or container record in inventory.
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