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Printing Complex Barcode Labels from SAP S/4HANA Made Simple

Recently, a number of our customers using SAP S/4HANA, have contacted us about complex barcode label printing and the difficulties they have encountered trying to do so effectively.

SAP is a globally recognised ERP supplier and serves numerous industries and sectors, however the challenge in printing complex barcode labels, is that it must be done directly from within SAP standard transactions.

Normally, this would be handled by the SAP spooler system and printed to a pre-designated label printer on the network, but in an increasing number of cases, the complex and changing nature of the labelling requirement, means that the normal methods of creating barcode labels "inside SAP" become unworkable, too expensive or have excessive SAP development time.

One very powerful solution is LMS Enterprise, an SAP Certified solution from label printing software providers, NiceLabel, which has a built in SAP application that captures the variable data needed to print labels directly from SAP and converts it into a format that allows LMS to merge this data into a label template and instantly print it to a local or remote barcode label printer.

This approach frees businesses from having to employ the services of specialist ABAP programmers to constantly understand and encode new or changed barcode labels, which can take days and lots of trial and error to produce an acceptable label to GS1 or similar standards.

The beauty of the NiceLabel system is that up until the point of printing, the SAP transaction is identical, then the NiceLabel ABAP script captures the standard transaction data and converts it into an XML stream. This XML stream is then used as a variable data source for a user designed label template and converted "on-the-fly" into text and barcode fields on the label.  Non variable data, such as logos, fixed text, lines, boxes etc, are all stored in the NiceLabel template, so require no SAP input.

The label template design and the link to the SAP data is all user level work, once the ABAP package is installed, and the designer is free to assign any SAP field to a text or barcode element, or combine multiple fields into a single element, in a simple to use Windows label design package.

Even very complex labels and barcodes can be created by the designer, with no programming skills whatsoever. An example would be a 2D barcode to the GS1 Datamatrix standard, which can contain multiple fields (GTIN + Serial + Batch + Expiry + Qty), merged into a single 2D barcode.

Another time saving feature is that "every" variable field within an SAP transaction is passed into the XML stream and these can be added to a label design template as variable fields. Not every field needs to be included, but if later a new element is required on the label, editing the template will allow the designer to add any unused fields, without making any changes to the SAP transaction or ABAP script.

The design of the labels and templates is very easy and anyone used to Microsoft Office can be quickly trained in its use. NiceLabel supports every barcode type and contains wizards to guide designers through the process of creating industry standard such as GS1, EAN 128 and many more, including complex barcodes such as SSCC Pallet labels.

Another advantage of using the NiceLabel SAP solution, is that it is not limited to using a dedicated label printer language, such as Zebra ZPL (a common SAP printer driver).  Using Windows drivers, specially developed by NiceLabel and freely available for all makes and models of label printers, means that changing the make of printer does not require a change in software or any developer time, just a change in printer driver.  NiceLabel printers drivers are free to download and are often better than manufacturer's own Windows drivers, in fact many manufacturers buy their drivers from NiceLabel, which is a very good recommendation.

If you're strugging with complex barcode printing from SAP, call us to discuss your requirements on 01200 441977.

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