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Labelling Solutions


Improving labelling productivity


H


ave you ever struggled to print a shipping label from a PDF file? Traditionally, this has been a manual,


often time-consuming process for businesses and smaller operations often resort to cutting labels by hand from printed self-adhesive paper following a mail merge from a word processing document. There are plenty of challenges that arise


when printing directly from PDF or XML documents, especially when using different software systems. Oracle, SAP and other web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Warehouse Management System (WMS) applications often act as middleware software between a formatted PDF / XML document and a thermal printing device. But without a label designer, formatting printed labels is challenging, requires manual input and increases cost and operational complexity. To improve business efficiency and save time, it’s best to use a device that’s designed for direct printing.


THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB As with any business challenge, it’s all about finding the right tool to complete the task at hand. A recent example is where a large retailer had been using an ERP system for years. However, label production and shipping were time-consuming for the company, requiring additional data processing and manual workflow edits by employees to ensure everything was working as it should. To eliminate the additional process issues, the retailer chose a thermal printer that included direct printing for PDF and XML documents.


32 October 2020


By downloading the PDF and XML-


enabled label format into the printer’s memory, it then sends the data within the file over a network interface (such as TCP / IP). The data is then parsed for the label format number, variable name and field variable. Once the printer identifies the format number from its memory, it simply inserts the variable data field name and recalls the layout format to begin printing. It’s a method that takes mere minutes to complete. Compared to the ERP middleware


software process, the direct printing process helped save the retailer crucial time by simplifying the overall labelling system. This reduction in operation layers delivered a reduced cost and enabled them to deploy labels rapidly without customising their existing ERP application. Savings could also be made elsewhere too with a PC-less printer, offering major reductions in cost, space and maintenance.


FLEXIBILITY VERSUS FUNCTIONALITY There is no need to substitute flexibility to gain functionality, and vice versa, when opting for a thermal printer that enables direct PDF printing. You can easily have both. For instance, users who are concerned about the orientation of their data, or blank spaces on labels, can opt for a device that includes a page splitting feature. This means a PDF document can be split


into multiple labels automatically, while blank spaces can be trimmed during the printing process. Some devices may also have a cutter function which can work in tandem with this feature, meaning users can specify how many labels they need without


any additional steps. If your business operates globally, labels are often required in multiple languages, as well as multilingual fonts. Printers that can use the fonts embedded in the PDF file can easily prevent text garbling. While it may seem like a small feature, at SATO we believe it’s the little things that count. As a global pioneer in the development


of auto-ID and labelling solutions, our range of printers, including the CT4-LX, the CL4NX Plus and the CL6NX, come with the PDF and XML Direct Printing feature as standard. With colour density control for generating clear barcodes, our thermal printers also include the Application Enabled Printing (AEP) feature for optimised and sophisticated label printing. Not only are they superb for shipping and receiving labels, they also work wonders for RFID label encoding and printing for exceptional track and trace methods – a vital and in-demand need in many industries today. The advantages of direct printing far


outweigh those associated with middleware solutions. When web-based applications can talk to a thermal printer without causing additional steps for the user, and thermal printers have access to the right tools to commit a label format to memory to ensure the process flows smoothly, it’s easy to see why operational productivity increases while costs reduce. And remember, there’s no need to choose between functionality and flexibility, or even compromise on accuracy, particularly when thermal printers – including those from SATO – deliver them as standard.


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