Direct Oracle-to-Zebra Connection Eliminates Glitches
At The RoomPlace distribution center, warehouse resources label each piece of merchandise as it comes in from suppliers–about 1,500 to 2,000 items every day–and have to relabel any returned merchandise from its various store locations. Needing a standard, more reliable Oracle barcode label print architecture, The RoomPlace deployed the ZebraLink™ Enterprise Connector (ZEC) software to connect its Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) ERP system with Zebra® printers. With the scalable ZEC solution, The RoomPlace is able to print labels in one-tenth the time it took before and also saves time as warehouse and IT resources are no longer interrupted by down servers or incorrectly printed labels.
The company stores and dispatches all furniture from its distribution center, which runs Oracle® E-Business Suite (EBS) as its warehouse management system in a wireless environment with Motorola® scanners and Zebra® printers. As merchandise comes in from suppliers, warehouse resources label every item–about 1,500 to 2,000 items every day–and have to relabel any returned merchandise. Detailed specifications about each item are connected with a barcode that includes the serial number in Oracle.
Previously, the company used batch XML jobs to print sheets of labels–in PDF format–from Oracle to Zebra. But the XML process and PDF format presented numerous problems for The RoomPlace's distribution team:
- With the previous solution, print runs from Oracle often took 10-15 minutes.
- Batch printing of hundreds or thousands of labels was slow.
- PDF files were frequently corrupted and fonts printed oddly.
- Simply reprinting one or two labels required IT resources to go back
- into Oracle to run
- If a printer was offline, the warehouse "ground to a halt." Network management software monitoring the devices would send an alert to IT, requiring them to drop other tasks to troubleshoot immediately.
- The company had no capability to leverage standard Oracle functionality allowing printing
from mobile devices.
"We weren't happy with our print implementation and needed a standard, more reliable Oracle label print architecture," said Michelle Pacynski, chief information officer at The RoomPlace.
A reliable, high-performance solution is well worth the investment. It’s straightforward and all our labels work.
The RoomPlace implemented the ZebraLink™ Enterprise Connector (ZEC) software to enable Oracle to talk directly with the Zebra GK420t™ and 140XiIIIPlus™ printers. The solution eliminates the need for additional middleware or programming, and provides a much more stable environment for desktop and wireless print requests.
Zebra's professional services team installed and configured the software entirely remotely, saving time and costs for both parties. In fact, The RoomPlace engaged the Zebra team twice: once for the original implementation and again when the company moved to a new hosting partner.
"We had a good experience with the technical resources at Zebra," said lead software architect, Sireesh Chintamaneni. "They are very knowledgeable about Oracle EBS."
Using ZebraDesigner™ for XML, the IT team at The RoomPlace easily creates its own label templates, which also match standard Oracle data tables. When the team needs to change a template, it's one change on the server instead of having to load the template on every printer as before.
Now, The RoomPlace has a consistent architecture for label printing, whether pre-printing or reprinting labels from its desktop, and now mobile, devices. And the ZEC provides a significantly more stable environment than the previous XML/PDF approach.
No longer does a down printer or reprint require IT support. Print jobs just wait until printers come back online. Labels also print exactly as they should look.
Hundreds of labels now print in seconds, in one continuous stream. "Labels print in about one-tenth the time it took before," Pacynski said.
With the ZEC, The RoomPlace went with a proven path for label printing from Oracle to Zebra. The smooth end-to-end print process saves time for warehouse resources as they are no longer interrupted by down servers or incorrectly printed labels. They have labels ready when needed and can print on the fly as returns come in.
If the company had instead tried the alternative–custom coding–the IT team would have been tied up with development rather than supporting other areas of the business. And new coding would be required for each Oracle upgrade.
"For the price point of Zebra Enterprise Connector, it didn't make sense to do custom development in house," Pacynski said. "A reliable, high-performance solution is well worth the investment. It's straightforward and all our labels work."