One of the key capabilities of Invata’s FastTrak warehouse execution software is its real time management of Print and Apply systems. As a key part of a warehouse automation system, print and apply systems rely on real time data to execute precise labeling functions for the purposes of uniquely identifying and marking individual parcels for internal tracking, customer specific requirements, and external shipping.
Involving a range of material handling equipment and components (including ID scanners, in-motion weigh scales, dimensioning scanners, printer applicators, and verification cameras or scanners) print and apply systems require a sophisticated warehouse control system to integrate all the disparate parts into a cohesive system and to orchestrate the multitude of functions required to optimize the print apply process.
With a history of client installations and product refinement dating back nearly three decades, Inavta’s FastTrak warehouse control system (WCS) software, now incorporated into our warehouse execution software dramatically increases throughput, reduces labor and shipping costs, and ensure accuracy in labeling requirements and customer compliance issues.
Print and Apply Functionality
In receiving operations, print and apply systems, directed by our FastTrak WES, are often utilized to label incoming parcels with unique identification numbers (serial numbers or LPNs, along with any other needed human readable information), so each parcel can be uniquely identified at anytime throughout its life in the warehouse.
In these operations, parcels entering the receiving area via conveyor are scanned for identification, while scales and dimensioners verify weight and size. Invata’s FastTrak warehouse execution system software transmits that data on a real time basis for allocation against advance shipping notifications (ASNs) and assigning inventory to open purchase orders in the host system. FastTrak WCS then supplies the print apply system with the information needed to label and identify individual parcels.
When labels need to be compliant with retail customer requirements, FastTrak WES can provide this capability, supporting unlimited label formats as well as an array of predetermined “default” labels:
As a parcel moves through the print and apply scan tunnel, FastTrak WES identifies the item/or order associated with the parcel via scanners/cameras.
Inventory and/or orders are then allocated as determined by the client’s unique business rules and FastTrak directs the print apply system to print a compliant label which is applied to the carton.
The label type and location may be modified depending on client requirements, parcel size, weight, and shipping method.
Small Parcel Manifesting
Another critical component of FastTrak WCS that enables an optimal Print and apply process is its small parcel manifesting capability. Small parcel manifesting requires integration with not only all the components of the print and apply as well as the host ERP system, but often with 3rd party manifesting systems for multi-carrier rate shopping.
FastTrak’s WCS provides this integration: As parcels move over the weigh in-motion scale and through the scan tunnel our WCS sends the weight and delivery information to the 3rd party system for tracking numbers and rating information. Upon receipt of that data, FastTrak then supplies the label information to the printers which prints and applies the label to the carton.
Once applied, the label is verified for readability and to ensure it is the correct label for the item in the carton.
Multipart (peel back) Labels
Multipart (peel back) labels can incorporate return labels, packing slips, and the shipping label in one layered label. This allows for closed cartons to carry all the identifiers needed to enhance the customer opening experience. Invata’s WCS provides this capability:
As parcels travel through the print and apply scan tunnel and are identified by FastTrak’s WES, a return label can be generated based on business rules associated with the product, client, or delivery location (or any other criteria). Once the return label is applied and verified, a packing list can be precisely applied with perimeter adhesive over the top of the return label by the next printer applicator in the print apply line.
Once the packing list is applied, the next machine can apply a shipping label atop the packing list. Each label applicator can be furnished with a redundant “twin” to virtually eliminate downtime.
Print and Apply Integration Considerations
As part of a print and apply system Invata’s WES can be used on a stand alone basis with legacy warehouse management system and ERP systems or as part of a fully integrated Invata WES with a uniform interface to a host ERP.
In omni-channel fulfillment situations where legacy software systems are in use, FastTrak’s bi-directional interfaces enable Invata clients to use our software to fill gaps in functionality between existing systems and light directed picking systems. This allows our clients to leverage existing resources, avoiding costly modifications to existing WMS and ERP system resources (and the subsequent support issues that often accompany them), and utilize FastTrak’s unique integration capabilities as a glue that binds new and legacy systems in one fully integrated operation.
Invata’s print and apply lines controlled by our FastTrak WES warehouse software are being utilized at dozens of facilities in a number of countries. A partial list of the successful implementations and their host (WMS and ERP) interfaces include:
- JD Edwards
- MS Dynamics
- Red Prairie
- And many others as well as legacy client systems