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Bring it on! Answers to your biggest labeling and barcode questions - right here!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Printing Product Labels out of QuickBooks

Did you ever want to print labels for the products in your items list and couldn't ? 


QuickBooks is a great accounting software, but when it comes to printing labels for products it has very little to offer. Many companies are using QuickBooks to manage their inventory and warehouses. The biggest problem they have is the need to print labels for their products, either coming in or going out. In addition, there is a need to print bin labels or shelf labels for the warehouse.

Print labels out of QuickBooksWe were first made aware of this issue about 8 years ago when a small Diamond Jeweler wanted to print "rat-tail" labels for his rings but couldn't. (Rat-tail labels are the small tags that are used to wrap around the band of a ring or another piece of jewelry.) 
He came to us, asking for our help. He explained how many hours it takes his wife to sit at the computer and to retype the jewels information. When we asked around we found out that it was almost impossible to produce product labels from QuickBooks.

The program that we created was very simple at first - and could only print product labels from the item list. As time passed, our customers asked for more features. Today the software is able to connect directly to QuickBooks to print labels out of invoices, sales orders, purchase orders and even pick lists.

There are many benefits to printing your own labels. One of these is printing Bin labels with Product picture.

When warehouse employees have to pick an order - it is much easier for them to pick an item while looking at the picture of the item. This in-turn reduces pick time, but also reduces customer returns.
The flip side of it, is when new items are received in the warehouse. Employees have less chance of putting the item in the wrong bin if it has a picture of the item on the bin.

Inventory management is a complex task. By having barcode labels, you can scan the labels directly into your QuickBooks or into a spreadsheet when doing inventory counts.

Another way of using labels is to offer your customers additional benefits, such as printing labels with their barcode and their prices on the items they purchase from you.

Labels for QuickBooks offer all of these benefits and many more. We would love talking to you about how it could benefit your company.


Monday, April 25, 2011

TPGTEX Announces DrumWizard © V. 9 GHS Ready Labeling Software

OSHA is requiring all chemical manufacturers to be GHS complaint by August 2011. Is your company ready? DrumWizard © V.9 is GHS compliant software designed to address the needs of chemical manufacturers.
 DrumWizard GHS Compliant Labeling Software

GHS – Global Hazard Symbols is being adopted by many countries around the world.  In the United States several agencies have requirements for classification and labeling of chemicals. OSHA’s HCS – Hazard Communication Standard requires chemical manufacturers and importers to prepare labels and material safety data sheets to convey the hazards and protective measures to users of chemicals,  employees working in facilities that manufacture, handle and store the chemicals.  OSHA is expecting all manufacturers to be GHS compliant by August 2011.

DrumWizard ©  V.9 is GHS compliant software designed to address the needs of chemical manufacturers. It has the ability to store chemical information and print on demand labels for chemical products.  DrumWizard ©   was first installed almost 16 years ago in one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the United States who could not find, at the time, a suitable solution for print on demand. Since then, DrumWizard ©   has been updated and upgraded to comply with many requirements, including the need to print in multiple languages.

“DrumWizard ©  V. 9 is experiencing unprecedented deployment success,” said Robert Pennington, Founder and CEO of TPGTEX. “It has already surpassed  any previous version deployment rate. With the availability of full color printing of all GHS symbols, multiple languages including simple Chinese and Creole on one label and multiple graphic formats, we expect more customers to make the move to DrumWizard © V. 9.”

Many customers have already benefited from deploying DrumWizard © V. 9  “We were not sure how we were going to be in compliant with the GHS requirements, in addition we also had to ship our product to Europe and had to use the European phrases. It looked as if we were going to be in a big mess.” Said  Mr. Cox of Dixie Chemical “ We had a very short time to deploy the new software.” DrumWizard ©   Solved our problems. It came with all European phrases in 26 languages, all GHS symbols and best of all it can print on demand any label we needed to any printer we wanted.”  .

DrumWizard © V. 9 is available for shipping right now. It is compatible with windows 7, 64 bit, (However, the folks at TPGTEX understand that many companies still use older operating systems and made sure their software can be installed on older versions going all the way back to windows 2000.) It comes in several versions, from stand alone to enterprise solution. It has the ability to connect directly to existing data or can be used by itself.  Demo versions of the software are available upon request: http://www.tpgtex.com/demo.html or by calling the company directly 713.726.9636

TPGTEX is an experienced labeling and solutions provider of all aspects of Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC). They provide customers with labeling software solutions as well as Printers (both thermal and laser), Ribbons, and Labels. With over 25 years experience in the Hazardous, industrial and commercial Labeling business, their customers’ list includes both large corporations and small companies alike.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Will Food labels become obsolete with smartphone and barcodes?


As consumer want to become more educated about the food they buy and consume, many turn to apps for the iPhone and other smart phones that can read the barcodes on the food labels. Once the barcodes are read, the application displays information about the food product that may not be on the label.  In Japan QR Codes have been used to tag fresh produce to show where it comes from including information such as soil composition.

Without a doubt consumers deserve to know as much as they want about the products they consume. Food Labels are limited in space and the amount of information they can display. The demand for more information that can be accessed instantly is answered by companies that created databases with nutritional information about hundreds of thousands of food products.

Although this technology is great and allows easy access to relevant information, many consumers still do not have access to it or do not know how to use it.
There is also a practical aspect – I loaded one of these applications on my iPhone and went to the grocery store. I used my regular shopping list and checked the products I normally buy. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that almost all the products I buy were available, however most of the information was a repeat of what was already printed on the label.  One side  benefit I found is the ability to enlarge text using the iPhone that was normally too small to read on the label. However, scanning the products was a time consuming task and I could not imagine taking my any children on this shopping trip…
Will Food Label Become Obsolete? Absolutely not!

Food labels are here to stay. I expect to see companies adding QR codes to their own labels to control the source of additional information. I am also convinced that as we are using more pictographs to communicate quick ideas – those too will become permanent feature on our food labels. A heart – for good for your heart foods, Green for organic  and so on.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Choose Labeling Software?

There are several good label software packages available. Whether you are considering upgrading your current label design software or in the market for a brand new software you need to consider Several factors.
Shipping label software using multiple barcodes


1. Make a list of everything you would want on your label - What information will you need on the labels?
Typical product labels have Product Name, Short Description and UPC Bar Code. You may want to have price or even an image of your product. Answering this question will help you determine what type of ELEMENTS the label software must allow.
Label Elements are: Images (jpg, png, bmp etc.), types of barcodes (Linear, 2d, 3d,) and variety of barcodes (UPCA, EAN 13, Code 39, PDF 14), variety of text (Sizes, fonts, colors), Shapes. There are more labels elements, but this is for another blog.

2. Find Out where the information on the label is coming from. Is your product information stored in your inventory software, QuickBooks, Excel Spreadsheet? 

The answer to this will determine what type of Data Connection the label software must have. You may be surprised to find that although many software packages claim to have an ODBC connection capabilities, not all can connect to Inventory software or even QuickBooks.

Thermal Transfer Printer
3. How would the printing of labels be done? Would you have a printing station at your warehouse? Would you like your employees to print labels using mobile devices? 

Most advance label software packages start with a lite version and go all the way to enterprise level to allow for multiple users, printing from multiple devices. If you do not wish to install the software at all, you may choose a labeling software package that allows printing from a secure web portal. 

4. Do you plan on using your existing printer/s?  Are you planning on buying a new printer?

make sure the software you are getting has the correct printer drivers for your printers and operating system.

5. Are you exporting any of your products? Are you selling your products in a bi-lingual market?


Chemical Drum label with SIX languages

If so you need to be sure that your labeling software can accommodate the languages you need. In addition, you would want your software to be capable of printing in two languages or more on one label.

6. What is your budget? 

Labeling software can be found for free or shareware on the Internet - but it may not meet all your needs. On the other hand, Enterprise level packages can cost several thousand dollars.


Use this short check list when shopping around:
  • Data Base connectivity- Can it connect easily to the company's database?
  • Barcodes - does it have all the types of barcodes you will need?
  • Graphics - what kind of graphic files can be used?
  • Fit Text to Box - can the text be fitted inside a box automatically?
  • Versions - What versions are available? Server (enterprise Edition),
  • Printer Drivers - Can it use standard printer drivers? Does it have a printer driver for your current printer?
  • Compatibility - Is it compatible with your current operation system?
  • Languages - Does it support multiple languages? (using Unicode)
  • Support - What type of support is available for it and how much it costs?
  • Cost - How much does it cost? Does that fit your budget?


Monday, May 3, 2010

Barcodes - a new way of life?

I recently posted a question about how bar codes are used in business. To my surprise I got a variety of answers I did not expect.  I thought I would hear about tracking assets, shipping, receiving, POS systems, but instead I got answers from companies that are using barcodes to track process, an artist who uses barcodes for his inspiration and new uses for barcodes by software companies.

I selected few of these stories to share with you. I hope you will be inspired by them, to explore how bar codes can be used in new ways.



Using Bar codes to track processes:


The first story comes from Cuisine Solutions a leading global manufacturer of frozen entrees and sauces. The company barcodes not only their assets but their actual processes. They produces more than 400 food products, each based on a different recipe. When an employee scans a barcode on a work order, it shows all the items required for that step in the product’s recipe. The employee then scans the pre-measured and barcoded raw materials for the step to ensure that the product contains the right ingredients. In addition notes Ron Zilkowski, CFO “The barcode data also enables the company to improve its products’ traceability and monitor production.”



Using bar codes to market products


The second story comes from a company who created “the world first web enabled cocktail napkin!” The company is calling its invention the ScanNap™. ScanNap is using QR codes in a new way. Their web enabled napkin is capable of launching, delivering and embedding any of your online digital content - from a traditionally printed paper napkin, directly into the consumer’s hand-held mobile device, for just pennies per unit.  For example, we can deliver: digital coupons, promotional codes, exclusive offers, iTunes media file downloads, e-book reader downloads, mobile apps, mobile web sites, non-profit donation pages, streaming audio files, streaming video trailers, social media invitations, event calendars, online order forms, blog invitations, newsletter subscription registration pages, GPS enabled digital location maps, SMS text messages, e-mails and yes - it is even capable of initiating a telephone call directly from the users handset, without the need to dial.  ScanNap™ works on any web enabled camera phone with a code reader. They also have a solution for older phones. Read more about their solution.


Bar Codes for Medical, Health and Everyday Wellness



The third story comes from Paula Patrice of PPweb Technologies, the innovator behind NutriSleuth, an iPhone app scheduled to hit the App Store in late May. In partnership with dietitian Valerie Daley, they created a professional-grade Medical mobile application that determines if you can eat everyday foods. Create and save dietary Nutrition Profiles on your iPhone, then use the phone’s camera to scan the UPC barcode on a product, quickly determining if a food meets your dietary choices, no WiFi access needed.
Paula Patrice describes this scenario: "Mom is grocery shopping for her family. Her husband has a heart condition, her daughter has diabetes, her son has peanut and dairy allergies, and she personally just wants to eat a low fat, high protein diet. Mom picks up a box of crackers- are they safe? A quick scan of the UPC barcode on the package and NutriSleuth gives her a reading: a Red Light showing a conflict with her son’s profile. There’s no need to read the ingredients, she puts the box down and moves on…"
Within seconds of scanning a UPC barcode label, the NutriSleuth app searches a database of +200,000 name-brand grocery store products and delivers instant results. Each user can set severity levels for a multitude of nutritional requirements, including serious medical conditions, and the iPhone application instantly “translates doctor’s orders” about that product into a visual “yes or no”.

I have an inside scoop on this app and will keep you posted with more information when it becomes publicly available.



Using bar Code as Visual Art


Our last story comes from the artist Scott Blake.  The artist uses barcodes in his art. He uses bar codes in a variety of ways. One of them is the creation of portraits made out of barcodes that are then scanned by the individual looking at them. The bar codes then sends the user to various websites with information about the piece that is presented. It gives a new meaning to interactive art.
I recommend you visit his site to learn more about this innovative artist and his very intriguing art. You can purchase barcode art from his site as well.



Mr. Scott Blake's use of barcode made me think about using it in an educational setting. Imagine giving students a picture and handing them a scanner. The students can now truly interact with and explore the subject. Just a thought for the next startup maybe.....

Using barcodes in the traditional way

Vibrant Graphics. The company has been in business for almost 20 years. They wanted to phase out all our their barcode work using the newer technology of digital printing. To their surprise they found out that many of their most loyal customers wanted the "old" barcode labels.  Sarah Emlund, Marketing specialist and customer support explains:
"These labels aren’t glamorous like our digitally printed product labels, but there always seems to be a need for them, even almost 20 years later, and they are complex in their own way." She concludes "For me it shows that old technology still has a place in an ever-changing world, and that barcode labels continue to be extremely functional in our industry."

I agree with her assessment. As you can see barcodes have many uses. Using old technologies or brand new ones. Barcodes do a great job in almost any aspect of our private life and in business.


To learn more about barcodes and how they are being used click here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do I need UPC barcode? How do I go about getting one?

UPDATED: Who needs a UPC barcode and what is it for anyway?
You need a UPC barcode for any product you intend to sell through retail shops that use the GS1 database.

A UPC code is the Universal Product Code – it was created to help business sell their goods and retailers capture the information through a simple scan. Every company who is registered with the GS1 gets a 5 digit Company code that is part of the UPC barcode.

The company then creates as many codes as it needs and uploads it to the Global Database. Retailers, who have access to it, can scan the item and all the information is captured.

You do not need a UPC barcode if you plan on selling your product:
1. Online through your own ecommerce website.
2. Online through an auction site such as ebay.
3. Through small retailers
4. In Arts and Crafts shows
5. Directly to the public

Some software systems (POS) require A UPC barcode on the product. As long as the system is not connected to the global database of codes, you can use any series of numbers you would like (within the guidelines of the UPC barcode) to produce your barcode.

You will need to get a UPC barcode if you sell your product through any outlet that uses the Global Database.

The Steps:

2. Fill the Application
3. The last page of the application will give you your fees that are based on Annual Sales (I put $30,000 in my application) and number of products you intend to barcode.
GS1 has lowered their fees for the very small business that may only need few barcodes. This new category is for businesses with 1- 10 products and the annual renewal fee is also more affordable at only $50.00 a year.

1 to 10 Initial Fee: $250, Annual Renewal Fee: $50
1 to 100 Initial Fee: $750, Annual Renewal Fee: $150

1 to 1,000 Initial Fee: $2,500, Annual Renewal Fee: $500

“GS1 US provides a GS1 Company Prefix through its Partner Connections membership that allows you to build many unique and authentic U.P.C. barcode numbers, also known as Global Trade Item Numbers® or GTINs®. No matter what you need, Partner Connections makes it easy for you to meet the barcoding requirements of your retail customers.”

Alternatives:

Use companies such as nationwidebarcode – to obtain only few barcodes. They only charge few dollars for each one. These companies got their UPC company prefixes before 2002 and can sell those legally. Your prefix company information will be their company, but it is a legitimate and working UPC code. Be sure to use a reputable company as there are many fraudulent companies out there.

Additional Information:
Learn more about barcodes and what they mean here.


Read the post about The meaning of the number in a barcode

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

QR Codes and MSDS

Using QR codes on product labels can revolutionize the way we communicate handling information for hazardous materials and potentially save lives.

As everyone needing to have MSDS (material safety data sheet) knows, it is hard to provide the information on the MSDS in times of emergencies. Although labels contain some of the information on an MSDS, it cannot contain all the information an MSDS will have.

So how do Chemical Companies, Pharmaceutical companies and anyone else needing to make their MSDS available can make them more accessible?

The simplest solution is to add a QR code to the product label. The QR Code can contain a URL (website address) of the MSDS of the product.  Most current mobile phones can read this code with their camera.

What is a QR Code?

A QR Code is a two-dimensional (2d) bar code created by Japanese corporation Denso-Wave in 1994. The "QR" is derived from "Quick Response", as the creator intended the code to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed. Just as the name suggests, adding the QR code to a product label can help the first responders at a time of emergency get all the information they need quickly.

Overview of QR code
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR Code causing the phone's browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL.  The software required for reading the QR code is readily available from Google, Microsoft, Nokia and iPhone among others.


Many existing label design programs have the capabilities to create these codes. The codes can also be created free of charge on several websites.

Most industrial printers currently in use are capable of printing these codes as well. Although the drawing above has some color in it a QR code does not need to be printed in color in order to work.


 

This particular QR code was created using NiceLabel and printed to PDF file. You can see if your own phone can read this barcode by printing this page and trying to scan it using your cell phone camera.

To get the software go to Mobile-Barcodes website http://bit.ly/9Sg8sz . They offer a full list of QR readers and all the phones that are compatible with each application. The applications are free and easy to use.

Using QR codes on product labels can revolutionize the way we can communicate handling information for hazardous materials and potentially save lives.