Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Detecting if a roll number was scanned or typed in.

We usually use barcode scanners to scan a roll number, a load number or a zone into a system. This saves time and reduces entry errors.

Sometimes, the barcode is not readable and the operator must type in the roll number.

It is better when we can tell if the entry was actually scanned or typed manually. For instance, when we investigate a misloaded roll and we can detect that the roll number was typed in, we can suspect that the wrong number was entered, probably causing the error.

There are two ways for the software to detect if the barcode was scanned or typed.

First, many barcodes, such as Code 39, include an asterisk in the barcode. The barcode scanner can often be programmed to forward this to the application which can detect that the barcode was scanned.

A second method is to measure the time between the first and last character entered. If the data was entered in less than one second, it was probably scanned. But, if it took longer, it was probably typed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Simplify data reentry from system to system

This tip shows a way to simplify reentering data from one computer system to another system. 

If you have two computer systems that do not communicate with each other and you have to re-enter data from one system to another, this tip saves time and minimizes data entry errors.
Let’s take the example of a roll tracking system that needs to send the shipment data to the accounting package. We propose that the roll tracking system print a barcoded report where all the data that needs to be entered is printed with barcodes in the same entry sequence into accounting package.

You would need to connect a "keyboard wedge" barcode scanner on the computer that has access to the accounting package.  An explanation of what we mean is found at

The clerk would get the accounting system ready to enter the data and then scan each barcode in sequence rather than type the data.

For example, a typical accounting system needs to enter the following information:
Customer Number, Order Number, Ship Date, Item Number, Lb shipped

The roll tracking system would print the following report with the same information in the same order using barcodes that can be scanned into the accounting package:


Customer Number 12345

Order Number 1125

Ship Date 10/15/2012 

Item Number  01 

Lb shipped  20125 


Friday, October 31, 2008

Automatic Bundling at Wrapline

Many mills bundle two or more rolls into a package at the winder.

Most omnidirectional barcode scanners can read multiple barcodes on a roll.

With this scanner feature and some clever software, there is no need to do manually rebundle a package in the system after a roll in a package has been downgraded.

The operator just has to put the rolls together with all the barcoded coretags on the end of the last roll where the barcode scanner will scan the package. The rolls are placed on the conveyor feeding the wrapline and the software will see all the roll numbers on the barcodes an automatically bundle the rolls together.

Reduce Waiting Time for Lab Test at the Winder

In some operations, winder operators have to wait for quality data from labs, robotesters, etc, before cutting a jumbo reel.

In typical operations, a strip is taken from the outside of the reel and brought to the lab for testing. The winder must wait for the results before cutting the jumbo.

We propose that the test strip taken from the jumbo be considered the start of the next reel. This is the same paper that is at the spindle of the next jumbo reel.

The paper on the jumbo reel we are talking about was actually tested from the strip taken from the outside of the previous reel. It should therefore be the same as the paper near the spindle of the new reel.

If a jumbo takes 40 minutes to make, we just added 40 minutes to the lab test window.

Improving Performance and Reducing Maintenance on Printos Marsh Stencillers

Although this tip is intended for Printos Marsh drop-on-demand (DoD) stencillers, it may apply to other stencillers. These suggestions have only been tested on Printos Marsh large-character stencillers using porous inks. Printos Marsh stencillers are commonly used in paper mills.

If you mix some of the manufacturer’s solvent with the ink to make it a little lighter and thinner, it will reduce clogging and make printing a little lighter (depending on how much solvent you add to the ink). Some trial and error will determine the best mixture. This saves money because the solvent is cheaper than the ink.

Some customers complain that the stenciller ink seeps into the paper and makes tiny marks at the edge of the sheet. This dilution of the ink will reduce the penetration into the side of the roll.

You can also put solvent into a spray bottle to spray on the face of the print head when there is dust and before and after every shutdown.

Improved Bar-coded Coretags Printed on Thermal Transfer Printers

Many mills use thermal transfer printers to print coretag labels to be placed in the core. Typical suppliers of these printers are Zebra, Sato, Printronix and others. Similar printers may be used at the backtender to print jumbo reel tickets and at the wrapline to print end labels or special bar-coded labels.

These thermal transfer printers use a single row of tiny heating elements (known as the print head) to melt the plastic ink from the ribbon which is transferred to a moving paper label (the coretag).

When the lines of barcodes are parallel to the movement of the label through the printer, the edges of the lines are typically very straight and crisp, making the code easier to read. This is referred to as printing the bar code in a "picket fence" format. See example below.

Conversely, when the lines of the bar code are perpendicular to the direction of the label stock through the printer, the edges of the lines tend to be fuzzy and irregular, making it more difficult to read with any bar code reading technology. This fuzziness can be visible and has greater negative impact on dense and small barcodes. This is referred to as printing the bar code in a "ladder" format. See example below.

A serious problem can occur if there is a single broken element or dirt on the printhead. This would result in a white or black line in the direction of the paper movement. In the case of the picket fence barcode, a line can appear parallel with the barcode bars and the barcode would be completely unreadable. See example below.

A similar line on the ladder barcode would degrade barcode scanning but is not as bad as the picket fence example above. As long as the scanner can cross all the bars of a barcode, it will read it in the barcode.

Conclusion: The picket fence barcodes are usually crisper because the print head makes the lines sharper. This is more critical when printing small barcodes which are not common in the paper industry. We recommend using ladder barcodes in most paper mill applications because the barcodes tend to be large and the fuzzy edges are undetectable by barcode scanners. With dust being common in the mill, minor print head failures are more common.