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High Tech Sector’s Label Printing Needs: Are we there?


If there is one thing which we can call as the livewire of the High Tech Sector is Labels. The entire high tech industry moves on labels. In Standard ERP Packages there are certain limitations in terms of volume of labels, performance and quality of bar code labels. As a result, typically companies have looked at other middleware options as a plug and play with the ERP Packages. Latest offerings from the ERP vendors seem to address this problem removing the need for middleware.


Typically, the role of carton labels is to identify the packed contents for the logistic operations to ship and provide the information for the end customers to identify and receive the products.  The carton labels are generated from manufacturing packing process with the sale order line information.  These Labels are produced for every sale order lines shipped out of every the Direct Fulfillment Sites globally.  The output is the physical carton labels.

The typical system level requirements are handling a load of about 40000 labels per day, ability to produce the label within a specific timeframe, ability to produce RFID and 2-D bar codes, ability to print and reprint multiple label types, ability to support multiple printer models, ability to print labels in sequence, to name a few.

Typically, companies use middleware like ClearOrbit, Loftware, etc. since earlier versions of Oracle E-Business Suite (11.5.9 and below) did not have the capability to print bar code labels. So information from Oracle was sent to the middleware which stored the label formats and also handled the print queue. Also, the middleware had drivers for the industrial printers like Intermec, Zebra, etc.

From 11.5.10 onwards, Oracle introduced XML Publisher which has the capability to handle bar code labels within one system itself. Typically a template is designed (either .rtf or .pdf) with XML Tags at appropriate places and it is more of a skill with MS-Word. During submission of the concurrent request, the data and template are merged to produce the output. There are still some gaps like we need to procure the bar code fonts separately and install it in the server. There are still some concerns over the ability of XML to drive all kinds of industrial printers. And since the marriage of data and template occurs during submission of a concurrent request, the load on the system needs to be evaluated to arrive at a decision.

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It is a good summary but you missed some key points why labeling out of Oracle still doesn't fly, 11.5.10 onwards or not.

The biggest one and major showstopper: it can't handle GS1 compliant codes and based on Oracle's Director of Healthcare Vertical's response when asked about this by a purchasing manager for a large health network at the ARHMM meeting 2 weeks ago -- I standing right there when this discussion happened -- they don't plan on ever doing it. [Part of the problem is they can't handle GTINs and GLNs natively without a complete redesign of the database internals.] It's so far down their priority list it doesn't show up as a release feature in their roadmap at any time, is what I was told.

So, design away if you're doing it strictly for your internal storage or warehousing needs because it won't get the job done out there in the real world.

Hi C Little,
Thanks a lot for pointing this out. We had used Code 128 bar code and it worked well. We are checking with Oracle about GS1 compliant codes and expect an answer on this soon.

Labels are important to many businesses, and finding an integrated solution definitely makes it easier to design labels.

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