We presently manage almost 50 hardware and
software supplier relationships. Our greatest value adds are
quite possibly technical know-how and engineering skills, because
those skills allow us to talk to all participating companies at
the technical detail level.
Getting systems to be on the "same page" is often the
number one challenge with a B2B supply chain project, but it can
always be done!
- There are many form factors and frequencies of tags.
Some are active (battery powered) and others are passive
(battery-less: energized by the ambient RF). Each has
pluses and minuses. Then there are different communication
and data structure standards. Determining the best tag
is a critical step for any RFID project.
READERS - RFID readers can be mobile
handheld computers or stationary. Some readers will
only read proprietary tags, while others can read many
different manufacturers' tags.
SOFTWARE - The software in an RFID
system typically takes the data from the reader and
feeds it to a database. However, there can be much more
intelligence built-in, such as using tag and/or sensor
feedback to control a conveyor belt.
ACCESS POINTS - An Access
Point (AP) is the bridge between the wired world and
the wireless world. There are many considerations, from
frequencies to security to throughput, that will determine
the best manufacturer and technology.
- These devices can manage a wireless network, either
locally or remotely. Although controllers are not always
required, oftentimes they can make a huge difference
in supporting and securing a wireless network.
DEVICES - Wireless clients
include laptops, handheld scanners, wireless printers,
vehicle mounted terminals, and others. It is the mobility
acheived that justifies "unwiring" such devices.
SOFTWARE - Many data collection projects require
unique software. Terminal emulation is still very popular,
but there are now many other ways to design applications.
A lot depends on the type of device that will be generating
and/or displaying the data.
/ ERP - These software products can be customized
for each company to provide the feedback to make intelligent
business decisions. They also offer a way to look into
the past and help with projecting the future.
BARCODE LABEL DESIGN - The software
used to print barcodes can be as simple as manually
inputting a number to as complex as printing barcodes
based preset "rules". Almost all of these
packages interface with databases, and some even populate
How do you get the information from a data collection
system into another system, in a way that they both
understand? That is what middleware is for.
- Virtually every data collection scenario will require
a database of some kind. It can be a simple spreadsheet,
to a huge global storehouse of information. The database
design is critical to any project's success.
Printing and Scanning
PRINTERS - Printing
barcodes can be a fully automated process or manually
initiated. Some printers are made to run 24/7, while
others are made for low volumes. Some are designed for
extreme environments, while others are for desktop use.
CONSUMABLES - This includes labels, as well
as printheads and roller platens. Many companies purchase
preprinted barcode labels, while others print them in-house.
SOFTWARE - For good quality barcodes
it is important they be printed to exacting specifications.
The barcode label design packages make this possible.
Installing a barcode font and printing from a non-barcoding
application, although possible, does not usually result
in readable barcodes.
RF SCANNERS - Getting the real-time
data input and instant feedback is the purpose behind
using RF with data collection.
SCANNERS - We put batch scanners in this category,
because even though you can scan the barcodes while
mobile, you must ultimately connect it to a terminal
to retrieve the information. Most tethered scanners
are wired directly to a terminal, for populating a field
rather than keypunching the data.
SCANNERS - Stationary scanners are used when
the barcodes are always in a known orientation. They
may pass through the scanner's "window" automatically,
such as on a conveyor, or the barcode can be manually
moved through the "window", such as at a library.
Voice Over IP (VoIP)
PHONES - Dedicated VoIP
phones utilize an existing wired or wireless network.
Most can be operating only within the confines of the
business, and only as a phone, although many of them
operate in "walkie-talkie" mode.
Other devices can provide data collection functionality
and operate as a VoIP phone as well.
- The latest VoIP advancements have been in the area
of software, where a software client, in conjunction
with an Internet connection, provides communications
over the existing infrastructure. VoIP to VoIP conversations
that utilize the Internet or a common network do not
require a telecommunications company.
INTERFACES - PBX's are
being replaced by VoIP infrastructures, but how does
such a phone call a landline or cell phone? This requires
a tie-in to the existing phone system, where the VoIP
information is converted and sent out a normal phone