In general, industrial label printing software (such as CODESOFT by TEKLYNX) is used to drive print jobs to label printers. However, this same software can be formatted so the 'labels' are actual full standard document pages (e.g. Letter, Legal, etc.) and the print jobs can be sent to laser printers. This allows the user to replicate the flexibility of report writer software (e.g. Crystal Reports) but also take advantage of labeling software capabilities such as an existing integration into an ERP system, printing complex industry complaint barcode, and built-in user and document controls.
The client needs to retire a database linked to Crystal Reports for reporting data from SAP. Since they are implementing a new labeling system (TEKLYNX CENTRAL) and this new system does have a direct integration into SAP, they are looking to see if the automated print engine withing TEKLYNX CENTRAL (SENTINEL with CODESOFT), is able to generate these reports.
Key System Components
- SENTINEL with CODESOFT (as part of TEKLYNX CENTRAL)
- Laser Printer
- XML integration into SAP
How it Works
SAP is configured to send data directly to SENTINEL. Several options exist for this connection (e.g. TCP/IP connection, Database Table Watch, Web Services, etc.) but the most popular is the XML file drop. Thus when the report is to be generated, SAP drops an XML file containing all the data to go on the report into a file location monitored by SENTINEL.
When SENTINEL detects the file drop, it opens the XML file and using a predefined 'data map', parses data from the XML file and inserts it into a CODESOFT label design. This is typical operation for printing labels. However, what is tricky is that reports, unlike labels, often have an variable amount of data to print. A typical label design will precisely define the location and size of all data to make sure it all fits into the label. However, a report may run one or many pages depending on how much data is to be printing on the report.
To accommodate this, CODESOFT has a feature called Grid Field. Grid Field allows the user to connect a 'grid' or area of the label design to a data source. If configured correctly, it will expand the pages of the 'label' (i.e. one letter sized page is expanded to two letter sized pages with consistent header and footer information) as the volume of data inserted from the data source increases. The data can be inserted from multiple sources including:
- Real-time connection to a database executed at print time - a query is run as the label is printing to pull the grid data
- Data inserted into the XML file - the SENTINEL data map channels the data into the grid
Once processed, the report is printed to the correct printer and the report will expand to the proper number of pages required maintaining the integrity of the report format.
Professional report writers are the best option for generating reports from an ERP system. However, in the right situation, it might be more convenient to use your labeling system software. These situations may can include limited access to the report data (i.e. data comes as an export from the ERP system not a database connection), the need to include sophisticated industry complaint barcode, or the desire to integrate the two together (e.g. print work order at the same time labels for the products on the work order are printed). Work with your systems integrator to determine your software capabilities to see if this will work for you.
Other Related Articles
- Using Grid Field Control to Print Data on Multiple Pages – CODESOFT Instructions