A number of requests about barcode label printing from customers using SAP S/4HANA has prompted us to think about the needs of our SAP customers printing complex barcode labels, so we thought we'd share them for anyone else having the same kind of issue.
SAP is a very large ERP supplier and serves a number of industry segments and in this case the request is to print barcode labels directly from within an SAP standard transaction.
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.
NiceLabel LMS Enterprise and NiceLabel Cloud Business and Compliance products have a built in SAP application that captures the variable data needed to print labels and converts it into a format that allows NiceLabel to merge this data into a label template and instantly print it to a local or remote barcode label printer.
This approach frees the business from having to have specialist ABAP programmers constantly trying to understand and encode new or amended barcode labels, which can take days, a lot of money 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 into text and barcode fields on the label. Non- variable data, such as logos, fixed text, lines, boxes etc, are all stored in the label template, requiring no SAP input at all.
The label template design and link to the SAP data is all user level work once the ABAP package is installed, so 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 style label design package.
Even very complex labels and barcodes can be created by the designer with no programming skills whatsoever, for example changing a 2D barcode to the GS1 Datamatrix standard, which can contain multiple fields ( GTIN + Serial + Batch + Expiry + Qty) merged into a single 2D barcode, or RFID if required.
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 field to the labels without making any changes to the SAP transaction or ABAP script.
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's not limited to using a dedicated label printer language, such as Zebra ZPL - a common SAP printer language. Using Windows drivers, particularly those 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 and are often better than manufacturers own Windows drivers, in fact many manufacturers buy their drivers from NiceLabel, which in itself says everything.
For an in depth look at how your business can benefit from using NiceLabel with SAP, call our specialist team on 01200 441977 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org