Windows workstation based OS
The J R Controls label print/apply (LPA) software uses standard Windows 7 Professional operating system. This operating system provides a familiar and cost effective environment and allows for wide connectivity to devices and printer hardware. The LPA software does not require and is not intended to run on a Windows server platform.
The LPA software is developed in the Microsoft “.NET” environment using Visual Basic. Applications are multithreaded and are therefore very responsive to the information needs of the host and printing systems. All source code is provided for the application.
The WCS operator interface screens have the same look and feel of familiar standard Windows screens. Windows can be sized, moved, minimized and maximized with familiar on screen controls. System configuration and other restricted functions are accessed via operator login.
The application uses a local SQL Compact database in which all carton/tote transactions are kept. The database is the storage location for the initial receipt of labeling data from the customer host. The database is subsequently updated as each transaction occurs for each individual carton/tote. The database will keep a record of all transactions for 3 days (or an adjustable time period). Older records are then automatically purged from the database. Database maintenance is automatically performed during low volume times.
Some host systems allow for the retrieval of information by the LPA in a batch format while others require piece by piece interaction. Standard interfaces for batch type applications include file transfer via FTP. Standard interfaces for piece by piece interaction are ODBC and sockets. Printing confirmations will be logged in the local database and optionally sent to the host system.
A PLC communication server is utilized to allow the LPA software to converse with the conveyor control system which handles the transport of the product to be labeled. This server uses Ethernet communications and will accept unsolicited messages from the PLC upon the arrival of a scan of each new carton. The PLC message will be acknowledged and the LPA will look up the printing information and send it to the label printer(s). The label will be applied and verified if required.
System Information / Reports
The LPA software interface will provide insight into the system operation. An operator can query the system for status on an individual carton’s activity, or on an entire shift or day of activity. The information display for a shift or day will show the carton ID, print file name, and time stamps related to each event (info received from host, print time, verification time and results). These display windows can sort this information by any of the displayed attributes (similar to sorting files or dates within Windows Explorer). A daily carton activity report is provided which will summarize all carton activity. Other information displays and reports are available upon request.
A Quad Core or better Windows 7 PC is recommended as a minimum. PC hardware can be enhanced to include Solid State Drives (SSD), Raid hard drive controllers, UPS backup, and various LED monitor choices. An industrial PC enclosure can also be provided. Customers can provide their own PC (with a potentially specific OS build) for LPA use upon review of the specifications.
An optional automatic backup system can be provided in the form of an external encrypted hard drive. An automatic backup will be run every hour creating a mirror image of the database. This mirror can then be used to restore the database on a replacement PC in the event of some type of PC hardware failure on the primary unit. An optional duplicate cold backup PC can also be provided.
LPA Software Commissioning and support
We provide complete startup support and system training to allow our customers to get the fullest benefit from the LPA system. Each LPA system is methodically tested to prove each function of that system prior to shipment. Then each system is verified again with the customer on site to insure the required operation and to provide the necessary training to operate and maintain the system.