Meats by Linz Expansion 8/17/07
August of 2007 brought about further expansion for the system that Accuware has in place with our software at Meats by Linz production facility.
Initially Linz meats came to Accuware after attempting to find a solution through other Weigh systems providers. Most of the other Weighing systems houses in the area wanted Linz to discard all its existing equipment and replace it with new weighing equipment and still not solve the core problem.
Linz needed a system that would allow them to Label a huge assortment of meats products without requiring the users do too much data entry but still make the system wash down ready. Locating a computer on the manufacturing floor was not an option. The system required the use of a database to store all of the company’s many SKU’s. We needed to also incorporate the weight off of a scale and print a label. The old system required storage of hundreds of formats in the printer. The scale would recall the format with proprietary software and send the weight to an Eltron Printer. Soon the company out grew the storage capability of the Eltron LP2844’s, and was leery of always updating hundreds of formats and loading them when they needed to update product information. Many of the Weighing systems wanted to use specialized software that resides in proprietary scale indicators to solve the problem. Accuware had a better solution.
1.) Keep as much existing equipment as possible.
2.) Develop software in mainstream Microsoft development environments
3.) incorporate a pc or server
4.) Make the formats easier to maintain.
Accuware maintained the use of the existing Scale indicators, and the Eltron Printers. We also left the existing user interface on the indicators in place for the initial phases of the project. Our software and system dropped in place by inserting our system into the serial communications that existed between the scale and the printer. The users enter 2 or 3 pieces of data when they change products. They place a product on the scale. Press print on the indicator. This is where the magic happens. The Accuware system listens on the serial cable that was once sending data to the printer. We re-route the data over the TCPIP network back to a server running our software. We “look up the appropriate product data and then issue a print job through Labelview BACK to the appropriate printer station next to the original scale that sent us the string.
How does all this happen:
The original serial string that used to go to the printer contains the Product number, associated pieces, and count , and the weight. With the use of a device server from Lantronix we can send the data back to our server that is listening on a specific TCPIP port. We know which scale sent the data by knowing which TCPIP port was used. We use the data to do a database “look up” for all the product information. We pass the data to ONE label format and tell labelview to print. We use a mapper screen in out software to assign specific printers to specific TCPIP receiving ports. This routes the print job to the printer sitting next to the originating scale.
System expansion:As the system proved itself Linz began to expand our system as well as it’s own facilities. Our software drive 7 scale systems and now works with both Eltron and Zebra (ZPL) printers. The larger Zebra’s allow Linz to us larger label rolls for more convenience and the use of a Zebra 105SL makes the printers more serviceable. (Steve Morris) “The key to the whole project was the use of the device servers to take Linz’s serial devices and “Network Enable” them. This allowed us to take them into the future with powerful software and still keep the “brain” of the system in a safe, dry environment. The system will allow Linz to expand into much more powerful databases and opens the door to integration with ERP software for data maintenance.
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