Shipment and Packing labels



Legendary Poster
Hi folks

I work for a supply chain company and the labels we help our customers place on products are vital to our business.

Has anyone here used BI and E1 to create these labels?
Bursting to zebra printers etc

If so can I kindly pick your brains please?
It won't hurt :)


You're in for a little bit of pain due to the fact that BI Publisher won't print to anything other than a PostScript printer via PDF.

The approach we took with this was:
UBE generates the label data required
Send to BIP with an XSLT that converts to the XML data into ZPL
Email the ZPL file to a monitored account with the body of the email containing required metadata
We then have a integration solution called Cantara which has the capability to monitor email addresses and parse the email body - this has a routing and mapping engine that selects the appropriate Zebra printer based on the metadata.

Full disclosure is that my company is the vendor for Cantara but if want any info on how with did the transform etc just let me know. The project that we delivered this solution for was using our mobile warehouse management solution and required labels to be printed both during PO receipt and optionally on inventory inquiry. It is designed to support around 500 zebra printers across North America.

As mentioned at the start you can just generate the PDF label but this is bandwidth intensive and also very slow as the Zebra driver converts the print data into a zebra image which means you could be looking a seconds to print a single label.

Others may have experience in doing it another way.
Hi Russell

Thanks for that. So are you saying, unless I use Cantara this solution will be very slow?
I am trying to save money and leverage the speed and resources of the E1 ent server to generate and then print the label. Sounds like external solutions are the way forward, no matter what you do.
Yeah, the issue is that the embedded BI Publisher only allows you to send PDF documents to PostScript printer drivers. Whilst this will method will result in a label being printed on a Zebra printer you hit the issues mentioned which are:
1. the print job takes an excessive amount of time because the label has to be interpreted as an image by the print driver and then send a whole heap of ascii encoded binary data down to the printer. This is both bandwidth intensive and also make the label print extremely slowing compared to pure ZPL.
2. Usually label space is at a premium and thus you need to be very precise with your design and margins. Achieving this with an RTF document that is being converted into PDF by BI Publisher is painful.

No, Cantara is not the only third party solution that allows these issues to be overcome. You could look at other solutions like file system monitors that allow you to print but you have to consider how complex your environment is and whether the cost saving in terms of software is swallowed up in administration and configuration costs.