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IT in a Small Manufacturing Company

By bcunnien ·
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Product Labelling

by bcunnien In reply to IT in a Small Manufacturi ...

<p>Often an order for product is accompanied by a specific request for identifying the product.  Until recently, our company has created a new product label format for every customer that requested one.  While this might be nice for the individual customer, our company has spent extra resources in order to accomodate the proliferation of labels.</p>
<p>In an attempt to minimize the impact on our resources, IT has been given the task of re-strategizing our labelling procedures.  We have determined to integrate labelling procedures into our existing ASP.NET application.  We have also determined that the label should be generic enough to cover all customer requirements--this would leave us with one format for all customers.  Fortunately, the AIAG B-10 guidelines are being used by many of our customers, so the reformatting of the label will be a simple matter.  We will adhere to this format and provide the information that all of our customers need through this one format.</p>
<p>The integration of the label into our existing ASP.NET application is another matter.  Two commercially available reporting components were tried.  Each component has rich design capabilities and wonderful data integration.  Each component was simple to integrate into the ASP.NET application.  Unfortunately, both components were scrapped since neither one was able to actually print the label properly.  The first component, created by ComponentOne (C1Reports), had problems with centering the text on the label.  The second component, created by DevExpress (XtraReports), printed the 4X2 label centered across three labels.  I worked with tech support from both companies and neither company could provide a solution to the problem.</p>
<p>The solution was discovered when I tried to print the label to a new printer using a demo labelling program.  The new printer, an I-Class Datamax thermal label printer, has a driver created by Seagull Scientific.  I found that Seagull had a labelling program called BarTender.  I downloaded the program, designed a label and tested it against the new printer and older thermal label printers.  The label printed perfectly.  The label had the exact same information on it that the label designed in the other two reporting tools had.  </p>
<p>While doing some further reading in the help files of the BarTender software, I noticed that this program had the ability to be used as an ActiveX control.  I perked up.  Within minutes, I was able to reference the program from the ASP.NET application in Visual Studio.NET.  I used the label format that I already designed for testing and dropped data on it appropriately.  Then, I printed the label to the new printer via the ASP.NET application.  The label printed perfectly...just like the initial test when using the BarTender software directly.  Then, I tested the label on the older thermal label printer.  It worked there also.</p>
<p>I spent weeks (literally) trying to get the .NET components (ComponentOne, DevExpress) working.  In the end, these two components never did work.  It only took a couple of hours from download to successful test of the BarTender ActiveX control.  Our demo version of the software will expire within a couple of weeks.  By then, I expect to have the requisition approved for the purchase of the appropiate licenses of the BarTender software.  </p>
<p>For more details about how the BarTender software works within the ASP.NET application, please leave a comment with some contact information and I will share my code with you directly.  The help files that come with the software are also very instructive and should provide everything you need to get a labelling project off the ground.</p>

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