Building a Global Pallet Labelling System

We've been working with this international manufacturer for a dozen years as an integral member of their IT division, providing specialist 24/7 support and a diverse portfolio of custom software applications. With over 100 factories worldwide and a turnover in excess of $7bn a year, they needed to be smart about their labelling. Existing pallet labelling software was not only off-the-shelf, but each factory was using different software (only to be expected when a huge organisation is built via a massive acquisition process) and one in particular was stuck with a system that produced duplicate pallet numbers, had a text based label design and was painfully slow to configure for terminals and printers.

Initially tasked to find a solution for this pilot site, we created an intranet-based system using the industry leading BarTender label design software. Our solution interfaces with the customer ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system – they use SAP – and label prints are triggered by a mixture of manual terminals or directly by the factory PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) equipment.

This approach was so successful that it was adopted as the new company standard with subsequent enhancements to make a multi-site, multi-lingual distributed system. By building in replicating data, we also ensured that if factories experienced local server failure or lost Internet connectivity the system would keep working, and continue to provide up-to-the-minute global production and warehouse reporting.

Our client subsequently made a significant acquisition, giving them a completely new product division and we were then tasked with creating a large-scale enhancement to the original system to include a complete end-to-end stock management system and traceability of all materials used in production.

The system now drives more than 1000 printers and has been translated into 15 languages. So far, it has been deployed in over 60 factories in 15 countries across 7 time zones.

Technologies Used | SQL Server | IIS | Merge Replication | BarTender