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Maximo - Barcodes

  • 1.  Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Mon December 09, 2019 07:02 PM
    I'm looking for advice as well as information on  how people have incorporated Barcodes in their environments.

    • What Barcode Standard(s) are you using? (Code 3of9, Code 128 Auto ?, something else)
    • Did you license your font and if so from whom? (We are currently leaning towards IDAutomation.com based on what we are seeing/demoing/testing (not all fonts scan equally I'm seeing) and the potential to do a streaming barcode image solution)
      • Are you using just the font and encoding the rest yourself ? 
      • Are you using a 3rd party SaaS solution/ or streaming barcode images yourself ?
      • Are you coding the logic into the reports or using other solutions (assuming Code 3of9 is not being used as this standard  and only requiring  a font and basic * as a start and stop character
    • How are you generating Bar Codes in BIRT/Maximo ?
      • Are they printing out properly or are you running into an error similar to what I'm seeing in my demo/POC when using dynamic images ("The resource of this report item is not reachable") ?  Ping me if you have a solution to this. When I find one I'll update this.
    • Are you also using barcode generation in other areas (Excel/Word/other tools to support Maximo) ?
    • Are you generating Barcodes in any other reporting specific solutions (SSRS, Tableau, Other BI tools, etc)
    • Have you found any limitation or findings that you could share with us as an experienced barcode user.
    • What areas are you using Maximo Anywhere/barcoding ?
    • Who is your Printer and Label Vendor? (did you go with Zebra? Another Brand? Why ?)
    • What size labels work for your ITEMS and SHELVING; do you use multiple different sizes of labels/label stock for different purposes?  What are those purposes?
    • Do you utilize mobile printers (ie. Hip printers) and how are they connected to the mobile device and/or Anywhere app; how does that "report" get triggered from the mobile device?
    • Do you utilize a stationary printer, or one hard-wired to, say, a laptop that is "mobile?"
    • Have you had any "lessons learned" from using barcoding, mobility, and Anywhere for Maximo Warehouse/Inventory transactions?
    • Are you happy with your solution? 
    • What would you do differently? Or have you come up with the perfection we are all striving for (If so congratulations let's get together for a drink to celebrate ).


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    Ryan Medernach
    Maximo Application Specialist
    MEG Energy
    Calgary AB
    -
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  • 2.  RE: Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Tue December 10, 2019 07:18 AM

    We have customers using code 39 & 128 barcode fonts. 

    We provide IDAutomation and think it's a good solution for it. If you're using Code 128 it has the necessary Java classes that you can add to your Maximo install to be able to use it in reports. As you mentioned, Code 39 just requires it to be installed (though remember that WebSphere caches fonts from the system on startup so it will require a restart to pick up the new font). All of our customers embed it into reports (sometimes in a bulk label report that gets executed from the list tab if they use Maximo to print the barcode for the parts). 

    Printing works for us, though we also don't embed it as dynamic images (just text on a report) so I'm not sure about the issue you reported. If the user doesn't have the font on their local computer, the HTML viewer won't work since that uses local fonts but any export (PDF, Excel, etc.) or direct print (which generates a PDF) should work.


    On the Anywhere front, the only use case related to barcode is for items (primarily in the inventory apps, such as Issues & Returns). Most of which use only the camera on the device which works OK for infrequent requests. We've had some request information on the bluetooth scanner support, but I don't think any have actually gone that approach for scanning. None have requested printing barcodes from the Anywhere app. If you're on a recent version of Maximo (I think 7.6.0.8+) and connected, you could execute a report via the REST API but I'm not sure how you would then send it to the printer. There are probably some cordova plugins that would enable you to send the output to a printer but it would definitely require some R&D to see if it's possible. It also gets into a gray area as Anywhere has licensing restrictions currently that enhancements to the app must not change the intent of the app or something along those lines. So while adding new fields and implementing custom validation and logic in the apps is OK, making the apps do something different than their intent is not OK. 



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    Steven Shull
    Solution Architect/Development Lead
    Projetech Inc
    Cincinnati OH
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  • 3.  RE: Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Tue December 10, 2019 11:40 AM
    Ryan,

    In complement of Steven's answer, I would add my comments for each of your questions:

    • What Barcode Standard(s) are you using? (Code 3of9, Code 128 Auto ?, something else)
      • ANSWER : It's related to the scanner device. For Maximo, the barcode reader is a keyboard that returns the code translated into standard characters. Recent devices can read almost any type of barcode and it's transparent for Maximo. We have customer using Code 39 and other using both Code 128 and QR.
    • Did you license your font and if so from whom? (We are currently leaning towards IDAutomation.com based on what we are seeing/demoing/testing (not all fonts scan equally I'm seeing) and the potential to do a streaming barcode image solution)
      • Are you using just the font and encoding the rest yourself ? 
      • Are you using a 3rd party SaaS solution/ or streaming barcode images yourself ?
      • Are you coding the logic into the reports or using other solutions (assuming Code 3of9 is not being used as this standard  and only requiring  a font and basic * as a start and stop character
      • ANSWER : Again, it's related to the printer. If you are using a printer supporting embedded codes, like Zebra, you can create the label layout inside the printer and just send a text file including values for each fields declared for you layout. For example, if your layout include a field "ItemNumber" encoded in barcode and a field "Description" not encoded, at print time you just need to send something like (depending of the printer model) "Itemnum:123456; Description:Item description" and the printer will translate automatically the ItemNum value in barcode. I prefer this method because the label layout or technology is independent of Maximo and if you replace your printer, there's no change to do in Maximo.
    • How are you generating Bar Codes in BIRT/Maximo ?
      • Are they printing out properly or are you running into an error similar to what I'm seeing in my demo/POC when using dynamic images ("The resource of this report item is not reachable") ?  Ping me if you have a solution to this. When I find one I'll update this.
      • ANSWER : We experienced some issues using BIRT. BIRT generates PDF file that is sent out to the printer. Depending of the printer model, it's possible that the label does not print properly. If you use a barcode printer like Zebra, it has to convert the PDF to fit the label size / format and it's not always easy to tune up. 
    • Are you also using barcode generation in other areas (Excel/Word/other tools to support Maximo) ?
      • ANSWER : No
    • Are you generating Barcodes in any other reporting specific solutions (SSRS, Tableau, Other BI tools, etc)
      • ANSWER : No
    • Have you found any limitation or findings that you could share with us as an experienced barcode user.
      • ANSWER : Yes, those reported above.
    • What areas are you using Maximo Anywhere/barcoding ?
      • ANSWER : For stock management (Physical Count and  Issue&Returns mainly). We have deployed work management apps as well (WorkExecution, Assetaudit, Inspection and ServiceRequest)
    • Who is your Printer and Label Vendor? (did you go with Zebra? Another Brand? Why ?)
      • ANSWER : Mainly Zebra because we know well, this is good quality printers and it's available in many formats
    • What size labels work for your ITEMS and SHELVING; do you use multiple different sizes of labels/label stock for different purposes?  What are those purposes?
      • ANSWER : It's very variable and depending of the storeroom setup. We propose different scenarios depending of items and bins characteristics. Some of our customer apply a label on each items when the size allows it. Some other print some labels on cards hooked up on the bin to allow self service. When a user grab some items in the bin, he grabs a plastic card to scan it at the self service station of the storeroom. Some one takes care of bringing back the cards to the bins. 
      • Another scenario, more common, is to stick the label on the bin which is scanned with a mobile device when the item is issued. This method eases physical count as well. 
      • Usually, our customers print two separate labels for Binnum and ItemNumber that can be scanned separately.
    • Do you utilize mobile printers (ie. Hip printers) and how are they connected to the mobile device and/or Anywhere app; how does that "report" get triggered from the mobile device?
      • ANSWER : We do not user mobile printer yet but I would say in Bluetooth
      • ANSWER : We use to add some fields to manage the printing :
        • On ITEM : One field to indicate if a label is printed at receipt.
        • On MATRECTRANS : One field to indicate the number of labels to print. By default, the value is equal to the quantity received.
      • The report is triggered when the receipt transaction changes to "COMPLETE"
    • Do you utilize a stationary printer, or one hard-wired to, say, a laptop that is "mobile?"
      • ANSWER : Not sure to understand your question
    • Have you had any "lessons learned" from using barcoding, mobility, and Anywhere for Maximo Warehouse/Inventory transactions?
      • ANSWER : It's usually pretty easy to deploy but as usual, change management is something that you have to take care. It's more easy if the storeroom is operated by a storekeeper who takes care of the process. For self service storeroom it's harder to make sure that all the transactions are scanned correctly and against the right work order because employees do not feel accountable. But it's not a technology issue.
    • Are you happy with your solution? 
      • ANSWER : Yes. At least, this is the feedback we get from our customers
    • What would you do differently? Or have you come up with the perfection we are all striving for (If so congratulations let's get together for a drink to celebrate ).
      • ANSWER : We do not wait for a great success to celebrate, success is enough :) . Seriously, I would repeat that change management with a good training it a key of success.


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    Serge Gagnon
    STI Maintenance
    Jonquiere QC
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  • 4.  RE: Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Tue December 10, 2019 01:52 PM
    Edited by Cameron Simpson Tue December 10, 2019 01:53 PM
    • What Barcode Standard(s) are you using? (Code 3of9, Code 128 Auto ?, something else)

    Code 128 - used to use 3of9 but the barcodes are too long in many cases

    • Did you license your font and if so from whom? (We are currently leaning towards IDAutomation.com based on what we are seeing/demoing/testing (not all fonts scan equally I'm seeing) and the potential to do a streaming barcode image solution)
      • Are you using just the font and encoding the rest yourself ? 
      • Are you using a 3rd party SaaS solution/ or streaming barcode images yourself ?
      • Are you coding the logic into the reports or using other solutions (assuming Code 3of9 is not being used as this standard  and only requiring  a font and basic * as a start and stop character

    For inventory, we use software that comes with our Bother printers, so that is it's own font or dynamic generation.  But we also use a free code128 font for BIRT and Excel work. 

    • How are you generating Bar Codes in BIRT/Maximo ?
      • Are they printing out properly or are you running into an error similar to what I'm seeing in my demo/POC when using dynamic images ("The resource of this report item is not reachable") ?  Ping me if you have a solution to this. When I find one I'll update this.

    I googled an algorithm for converting a string into code128 - I then have the barcode font on the Maximo Server and on our users PCs.  When you run the BIRT and get the HTML version, it uses the font off the local user's PC, so if it is not there they get the coded sting.  When they print or go to PDF that runs locally on the Maximo server and picks up the font from there.

    • Are you also using barcode generation in other areas (Excel/Word/other tools to support Maximo) ?

    Yes, I have the algorithm in Excel, so people can create lists as they like - normally gets used to create pages of labour codes etc.
    We use the software that comes with our brother label printers - it has the ability to connect to a database so it connects to the Maximo database with a select statement over the Inventory/Item Master tables and the users can pick any item (or multiple) and prints a labels for the storeroom shelves etc. 


    • Are you generating Barcodes in any other reporting specific solutions (SSRS, Tableau, Other BI tools, etc)
    No

    • Have you found any limitation or findings that you could share with us as an experienced barcode user.
    No
    • What areas are you using Maximo Anywhere/barcoding ?
    We are using it with Interloc's inventory management mobile software
    • Who is your Printer and Label Vendor? (did you go with Zebra? Another Brand? Why ?)
    Brother - easy to get (at least in New Zealand), cheap so most storerooms can get them without a capital form

    • What size labels work for your ITEMS and SHELVING; do you use multiple different sizes of labels/label stock for different purposes?  What are those purposes?
    We use roles that the printer cuts off at where needed, so they can make thin ones to go on the edge of a shelf (say 1.5cm) but they also do larger ones to go on boxes.  Lot easier than fixed-size labels.


    • Do you utilize mobile printers (ie. Hip printers) and how are they connected to the mobile device and/or Anywhere app; how does that "report" get triggered from the mobile device?
    No

    • Do you utilize a stationary printer, or one hard-wired to, say, a laptop that is "mobile?"
    The printers are small (the one sitting on my desk is a QL-570, an old model but sure you could google it and see - it is "mobile" in that you could carry it and a laptop around if needed.

    • Have you had any "lessons learned" from using barcoding, mobility, and Anywhere for Maximo Warehouse/Inventory transactions?
    Get a printer that comes with software that can connect to a database as its source.  That way you set up a couple of templates for your situation (eg thin ones for small places, etc) and the user simply should be highlighting the records they want to print and hitting print - no need to retype in item codes, descriptions of items etc.


    • Are you happy with your solution? 

    Yes, and the storerooms that have the printers use them for all sorts of things (including "hiding" their password for getting into the moble app in a QR code stuck to the wall).  I'm IT so not happy about that, but hey need to turn a blind eye some times.

    • What would you do differently? Or have you come up with the perfection we are all striving for (If so congratulations let's get together for a drink to celebrate ).
    I see the storerooms are starting to use QR codes a bit more since they take up less space, so they can have the item descriptions printed out in larger font for people to be able to read more, so I am guessing they which they tried that earlier since labelling a whole storeroom is not something they want to repeat... eventually with item changes, re-prints etc maybe they all will be QR codes.  I do not have a way (yet) to put QRs into our BIRT reports.

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    Cameron Simpson
    Senior IT Systems Analyst
    Fulton Hogan
    Christchurch
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  • 5.  RE: Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Wed December 11, 2019 02:11 PM
    Edited by SoCal Sun Wed December 11, 2019 02:19 PM
    You can generate 3of9 barcodes using HTML and/or CSS:
    https://www.codeproject.com/Articles/146336/Creating-a-Code-39-Barcode-using-HTML-CSS-and-Java
    https://codepen.io/wbarlow/post/creating-a-barcode-generator-with-css

    Same barcodes like 3of9 have predictable width between black & white stripes, so you could design them based on pure HTML. Downside is that 3of9 takes up a lot of space to generate the code. 3of9 is probably okay for Inventory a 5-6 digit maximo numbers. I personally don't recommend it for mission critical use as there's no checksum and I worry a bad scan (but accepted by the system) could cause unintended consequences. Code 128 can handle more data in a small space the checksum minimizes any scan errors. You need software or code to generate the barcode. Nothing prevents you from using both fonts in your environment as long as you know the appropriate uses. Basic handheld camera scanners, Symbol/Honeywell scanners are all capable of reading these long-supported barcode fonts, etc

    If you need "hardy" labels (pre-made or sequence runs), CamCode has been a great vendor for us. We used them for assets (furniture, Central Plant boiler room). For every day Maximo item numbers, we just use the Zebra square printers. Get Thermal Transfer (not direct thermal) if you need the labels to last. Direct thermal fade in after a few years even in climate control, and do not handle well in extreme conditions (high heat, cold cold, etc).

    For mobile printers, I recommend WiFi capable instead of bluetooth. If you need vendor help, Bluetooth troubleshooting is impossible and you have to figure it out yourself. We bought some Intermec label printers, but very difficult to set up, slow tech support, and did not like label printer wasting gobs of labels on every power up. Next round, I'll try Zebra. They have good online resources (videos, manuals, etc) and found their tech support more helpful.


  • 6.  RE: Maximo - Barcodes

    Posted Thu December 12, 2019 01:14 PM
    I just wanted to say thanks for all the input and discussion around this.

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    Ryan Medernach
    Maximo Application Specialist
    MEG Energy
    Calgary AB
    -
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