RAVAS UniWin software system


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UniWin software to optimize supply chains, to integrate mobile weighing systems into your ERP system for Real Time data processing

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RAVAS UniWin software system

  1. 1. Faq UniWin Created for Ravas Europe BV June 2010 Jacob Blom, Alex R Vrijenhoek InfoTech Logistics B.V. Prof. Minckelersweg 4B 5144 NZ WAALWIJK The Netherlands (+31)(0)416-338285 www.uniwin.nl
  2. 2. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing Contents CONTENTS .................................................................................................................................................................. 2 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................................ 3 GENERAL .................................................................................................................................................................... 4 UNIWIN SPECIFIC .................................................................................................................................................... 8 UNIMOBILE SPECIFIC ............................................................................................................................................ 9 UNISCREEN SPECIFIC .......................................................................................................................................... 12 GLOSSARY OF TERMS ......................................................................................................................................... 13 Page 2 of 14
  3. 3. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing Introduction This document describes most of the Frequently Asked Questions of UniWin and UniMobile in specific in combination with the RAVAS mobile weighing systems. The purpose of this FAQ is to introduce in an efficient manner a sufficient knowledge of UniWin and UniMobile in order to be able to discuss these IT products with colleagues, prospects and costumers. We encourage the readers to ask any question, which is not yet described in this document. Page 3 of 14
  4. 4. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing General So what is UniWin ? UniWin is the name for a group of applications that was specifically written for application in the Weighing Industry. In principle UniWin is the main application that runs on a PC and handles customer specific requirements. UniWin is capable of handling the following: Maintain the database of so called base files, like customers, products etc Maintain the database of the weighings and tickets Generate and print reports Import and export data with higher level systems like ERP systems Connect to lower level systems like Scales, PLC's, PDA‟s using UniMobile software, badge reader and terminals. So what is UniMobile ? UniWin allows for different types of devices to be connected to it. Obviously one of these types would be one or more scales. Besides that UniWin also allows for the connection of so called (hand)terminals. A terminal is a remote device which an operator can use to execute a weighing and enter all sorts of variables. The principle of a terminal is that it has 1 to 4 display lines to ask a question, allows for a keyboard to enter the answer. Besides that these ID codes can be scanned using a barcode scanner. There are a lot of different types of PDA‟s or terminal software programs. One of those is UniMobile. This is a specific Windows Mobile (Windows CE) application. There is even a special version available for touch panel PC terminals using touch screen soft keys called UniScreen. So what is UniMobile Connect ? UniMobile Connect is the same as UniMobile but then with limit functionality. Basically this program works in the background on a (hand)terminal and a ERP or WMS system is the main application on this device. With UniMobile Connect you can assign a Function key of the terminal to „Read the weight‟ This weight will be transferred from the RAVAS scale into the key register and it will be directly entered into the other application. It works the same as scanning a barcode! What type of hardware do we need ? UniWin PC software runs on any Windows PC being Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7. UniMobile will run on Windows Mobile 5.0 and up or Windows CE 5.0 and up. Page 4 of 14
  5. 5. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing How about connecting UniWin to ERP type systems? Customers often request the data coming from the weighing system to be imported into their ERP or WMS system. A UniMobile Stand Alone can only generate a CSV file which should manually be copied to a PC or laptop. The customer must take care of the import of data within their system. UniWin has a lot of different possibilities to connect to other systems. This can be based on CSV files, XML, TCP/IP, DDE, ODBC and a lot more. In theory there are so many ways, it is best to ask a customer how they would like to implement the connection. One of the most used method is the „shared files „principle. With this technique we create a file on the server called „shared‟ in the folder there are following subfolders: shared - data in data out - data rejected - data archive - Every 5 (or x) minutes UniWin will read all data which is placed in the file „data in‟. This data will be used for new activities and weighings. At the same time UniWin will store in the folder „data out‟ all the finished weighing actions. The folder data rejected is used to store data which could not be processed as input. The folder „data archive‟ is used for storage of all input messages that were read and processed. Remarks: UniWin will continuously “poll” for messages in this In-folder. We expect that other systems do the same for the Out-folder. The Archive-folder will grow extensively. We expect that your IT-department sets up a cleanup mechanism. Security and setup of shared folders is handled by the customers IT- department. Be aware that user-accounts of users of UniWin Clients most be added with read/write/modify authority on these shared folders. Page 5 of 14
  6. 6. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing UniWin and UniMobile do use Bluetooth, how safe is this technology? Bluetooth technology is worldwide known for its simplicity and also for its data integrity. It is widely used to connect two devices together to share data between each other in a „point to point„ configurations. Two Bluetooth devices must be connected to each other using a special pairing sequence. After the both units have been paired to each other then it is no longer possible for any other RF or Bluetooth device to „break-in‟ into the dialogue of the two paired Bluetooth devices. Over the years Bluetooth has proven itself as a world standard in this area. Bluetooth is an open standard for wireless connections between devices over a small distance (approx 10 meters). It is based on the 2.45 Ghz frequency band. We use this to connect the RAVAS indicator to a PDA and the PDA to a Bluetooth printer. UniWin and UniMobile do use WLAN, how safe is this technology? With WLAN you can make a computer network and connect many computers to one and the same network. Networks can be connected with each other also using the Internet. UniWin uses WLAN technologies which has uses a high security level which will be password protected. UniWin or RAVAS can not be responsible for the integrity of the WLAN system. For security reasons it is recommended to use a minimum of WPA2 security level WLAN, also called Wi-Fi is built according to the IEEE 802.11x standards and on a regular basis new updates are released creating faster and better connections. The x can be anything from a to n, which indicates the maximum speed of the connection UniWin uses ports (also called sockets) to communicate with one and other. These ports are not being used by standard user needs, like files haring or printer sharing. The ports used can be configured in the application. Most system administrators will use so called Fire Walls to block certain ports from being used. These firewalls need to allow the UniWin ports. Since they are in a high range (normally ports 5000 and higher) and not used for any Windows functionality, this should not be a problem. Together with the security level of the WLAN itself, it is quite safe to use this technology. RAVAS can provide a WLAN tester program to test if a network will allow UniWin to work in the customers W(LAN). Page 6 of 14
  7. 7. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing Can you show me a typical system layout ? On Line Bluetooth WLAN LAN RAVAS Indicator PDA PC With Bluetooth running UniMobile running UniWin Stand Alone Bluetooth LAN USB connection RAVAS Indicator PDA PC with With Bluetooth running UniMobile Microsoft ActiveSync * * with Windows Vista and Windows 7 you need to install Microsoft Mobile Device Centre Page 7 of 14
  8. 8. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing UniWin Specific What are the main features? UniWin is a standard kernel for Industrial Weighing and logistic applications. UniWin contains a lot of features and it is best to read other commercial documentation. The main feature would be that customer specific applications can be build using a configuration tool and not a programming tool, resulting in a lower cost price. What about Weights & Measures approval ? UniWin is officially approved for the European (NMI approved) and American (NTEP Approved) market. In principle the approval is for all "Serial devices" being used in a static weighing situation. The Bluetooth connection used by the indicator and UniMobile is not known yet. What are minimum system requirements ? UniWin needs to run on Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7. Furthermore it is generally equipped with a monitor of minimum 600 x 800 pixels. UniWin is generally using WLAN for the mobile applications of RAVAS and UniMobile Stand Alone needs usually a USB connection for data transfer. How does licensing work ? There are several licenses for UniWin. Also there are some add-on modules which can be licensed. Please read the price list for more details. For online solutions the minimum required would be one UniWin and a UniMobile license for each (hand) terminal. Licenses are “one-off” fees. This means there are no other annual fees. Is there an annual maintenance fee ? A customer is free to buy a maintenance contract on the licenses. We strongly advise a customer to do so. It covers the charges for telephone support and upgrades to newer Windows platforms. This annual fee is based on the license costs and not on the set up and installation costs. Page 8 of 14
  9. 9. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing UniMobile Specific What are the main features ? UniMobile is a (hand) terminal, or PDA, application, which allows operators to record weighing data and extra data fields like product code, costumer code, location and quality codes etc. Most efficient way is to use the scanner for these data fields. Explain On Line, Off Line, Stand Alone ? This is the mode in which UniMobile is running. OnLine: When UniMobile is directly connected to UniWin (Normally via a WLAN), UniMobile and UniWin communicate online where UniWin generates the questions and does the Weighing. UniMobile is used for entering data. OffLine: The questions are uploaded to UniMobile and the weighing results are downloaded back to UniWin using a Synchronize operation. This mode of operation is mostly done when a full WLAN coverage is not available in the area of operation. So a user synchronizes his unit with UniWin and operates Off Line usually for some hours, after that he sync's again to upload the weighings, etc. to the UniWin system. Stand Alone: A separate dialog is configured and copied to the UniMobile. All weighings and data entries are registered in a CSV file. A customer can copy this file and extract the data into his own spreadsheet. No UniWin is used for these applications. Note I - in principle, an application only runs in one of the above modes. Note II - switching between On line and Off Line has to be done manually on the mobile (hand) terminal. How do I know which mode of UniMobile to use? The question can only be answered depending on the client's request. If a client wants direct view of what is happening with the mobile units, he needs an OnLine version. (Trade off for On line is that it will need a WLAN infrastructure, which might be expensive) If they do not need that, but want the flexibility of reporting and communication with other systems, offline might be the solution. (No WLAN investment) When a customer wants and can generate reports and information flow on it's own, it will probably only need the standalone and interpret the CSV result file itself. UniMobile can use existing WLAN infrastructures Are there functionality differences between the modes ? Yes, the functionality of UniWin is high and that cannot all be implemented in UniMobile. Remember UniMobile is simply a “Dumb Terminal” which asks questions. So in Online mode, the functionality is the highest, because UniWin and UniMobile are in a constant connection, where UniWin validates each entry On Line. For Offline and Standalone, the UniWin server application is simulated within UniMobile itself. The differences lay mostly in the fact of how a dialog is executed. UniWin has a lot more features for asking a question, displaying information, validating input and calculating values. For normal operations, UniMobile Offline and Standalone will have enough functionality. Page 9 of 14
  10. 10. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing Can it weigh with a fixed tare ? Yes, UniMobile supports the tare feature in many ways. Either a fixed tare is entered, or a tare is calculated based on other entries, or the tare value is the weight of the previous weighing. Can it do a Tare and Gross weighing ? Yes and No. UniMobile supports the feature of a first and second weighing. However, the second weighing is always done directly after the first weighing. So after the first weighing, the operator is asked to confirm to take the second weighing. Can it also be used without a scale? Yes, connecting to a scale is optional. To which scale (indicator) can it connect? In principle we can say it connects to any indicator as long as the indicator can communicate with the mobile device using Bluetooth or RS232. The communication protocol can be defined within UniMobile itself. An indicator can constantly output weight information, output weight information on a Poll request or only output weight information after an actual weighing. Can it print barcodes ? Yes, UniMobile can be connected to a printer using a cable or Bluetooth. UniMobile can send ASCII formatted text to the printer, meaning it can also send Escape sequences to print barcodes. The printer of course needs to support printing of barcodes. Can it take pictures ? Yes, a feature in UniMobile allows it to use the Camera of the Mobile device and take one or more pictures. In the Online mode, the pictures taken should be placed on a shared directory. For Offline and Stand Alone, the pictures should be copied manually from the device (PDA) to the PC using a USB connection. Note that we have found that camera functionality is supported best by Windows Mobile 6.0 and higher. Note: not all PDA‟s do support this functionality. Any other special features ? Yes, one special feature is that it can also ask for a Signature. A blank box appears on the screen, after which a user can place his signature and the contents is saved as a .jpg file. What about multilingual support ? UniMobile in the Online mode, supports multiple languages (depending on languages defined in UniWin). For Standalone and Offline only one language is supported and needs to be specified at order. Page 10 of 14
  11. 11. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing What is a UniMobile dialogue ? In principle each dialog contains the following: On start up optionally a username must be entered The main ID codes of the weighing are entered. Multiple references belonging to the weighing are entered. Including optional pictures etc. Optionally a last question (Yes/No) indicating “Ready to start weighing?”. If not confirmed, the system will re-ask all the references. (not the code) The weighing is performed and all data is saved to UniWin or the local .csv file. Return to asking the main code for the next weighing. So the minimum requirement of a weighing is a Code. What type of questions can we ask ? There are several types of questions. Most simple is a question and a box in which (ID)data can be entered. This data can either be typed in (using on screen keyboard) or the integrated barcode reader can be used to record the data. The data entered can also be linked to a base file. This means that the code entered, must match a code in that base file. E.g. when asking for a customer number, the code entered, must exist in the base file customers. It is also possible to show a selection box. This box shows multiple options from which the operator can choose. The amount of options is not limited, however the number of selections shown on the screen, depends on the screen size and varies between 1 and 9. A selection box can be shown for Yes/No questions, or selecting. Note: For any type of question, the standard edit box is shown. Other combinations of the above are also possible, like selecting a customer from a selection list. What can we configure in UniMobile ? In Online and Offline, configuration is done by UniWin. For standalone, you can define: A maximum of 90 questions All text displayed for errors, during the weighing process etc. A ticket layout A maximum of 90 base files For each question you can also define: A default value Type of entry: Any data, Only numeric, Logical (Yes/No) An option to indicate if the question should be asked or not. A flag to indicate if the value is mandatory A flag indicating if the value should be confirmed. So after entering a value, the question and value are re-shown to the operator for confirmation. Page 11 of 14
  12. 12. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing My customer wants to use UniMobile for multiple activities. Is that possible? Yes, UniMobile supports multiple dialogues. So depending on the activity a different dialogue for entering different data can be selected. For standalone versions, it will also generate multiple CSV files. What does the Stand Alone CSV file contain ? The layout of the CSV file will differ for each application. In principle it will contain: Hand terminal ID, all entered data, weight information and date & time information. What about Weights & Measures approval ? Because of the complexity of this, we are currently not sure if UniMobile is W&M approved in the On line mode. We know it is not W&M approved for Offline and Standalone. For these applications you can make it W&M approved, by adding an alibi memory in the indicator of the certified RAVAS scale. What are minimum system requirements ? Currently we recommend UniMobile to be used on Windows Mobile 5.0 and higher or Windows CE 5.0 and higher, using the ARM processor. Of course we would need a rugged hand terminal with a Bluetooth option and optionally a WLAN and integrated barcode scanner. How does licensing work ? Independent of the mode of UniMobile, there is a license fee per unit using the UniMobile application. Is there an annual maintenance fee ? Yes, a customer can buy a maintenance contract for UniMobile. UniScreen Specific What are the main features? UniScreen is a version of UniMobile which can be installed on a (industrial) PC with a touch screen. The touch screen will facilitate big alpha numeric soft keys for entering data using the touch screen. UniScreen is mostly used in combination with a fixed scale. Are there any other differences between UniMobile and UniScreen ? No, in principle, these two applications have the same technical specifications. The only difference is the platform they run on. Page 12 of 14
  13. 13. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing Glossary of Terms ASCII ASCII means >> American Standard Code for Information Interchange ASCII is the standard code used for information interchange and communication between data processing systems, including Internet. The ASCII character set (or ASCII table) initially contained 128 7-bit coded characters including alphabetic, numeric, control and graphic characters. It has since been extended to include system or country specific characters An ASCII character is a combination of 0 0 0 0 and 1 1 1 1 (high or low volt) The letter a = 0110 0001 The letter A = 0100 0001 The letters contain 8 bits and 8 bits are „bits by 8‟ which became: byte ! Computer memory are expressed in KB = Kilo Byte = 1000 Byte or MB or GB Bluetooth See page 6 CSV file A file containing: Comma Separated Values. It is a basic file layout that can be read by most applications. These types of files are mainly used with Spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel. Each value is separated by a comma (,) and each line (record) is ended with a CR-LF. In the EU we do not use a comma but a semi-colon (;) the comma is used to express small values like: 1,5 etc. CSV files can also be edited with Microsoft Notepad which is a standard basic editor which comes with all the Windows packages of Microsoft. RS232 This is a standard to connect a computer with a peripheral. In principle this is based on a cable (RS232 max length 25 meters). RS = Remote Serial Data transmission with Bluetooth is also based on RS 232 but instead of the cable you have on both ends a Bluetooth device which makes a virtual cable for the connection RS 232 used to be very popular also with laptops and PC‟s but you see now that that has been taken over by USB connection ports. [USB = Universal Serial Bus] WLAN or Wi-Fi See page 6 ActiveX Loosely defined set of technologies developed by Microsoft for sharing information among different applications. ActiveX is an outgrowth of two other Microsoft technologies called OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) and COM (Component Object Model). Page 13 of 14
  14. 14. Connecting Logistics Mobile Weighing DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) An inter process communication system built into the Macintosh, Windows, and OS/2 operating systems. DDE enables two running applications to share the same data. DLL (Dynamic Link Library) A library of executable functions or data that can be used by a Windows application. Typically, a DLL provides one or more particular functions and a program accesses the functions by creating either a static or dynamic link to the DLL ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) A business management system that integrates all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, logistics, sales, and marketing. MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) Systems that enable users to manage the processes that make up a supply chain, including deploying inventory, forecasting, and shipping ODBC (Open Data Base Connectivity) A standard database access method developed by the SQL Access group in 1992. The goal of ODBC is to make it possible to access any data from any application, regardless of which database management system (DBMS) is handling the data. Operating System All computers are equipped with an Operating System. This program is started at boot-up of the computer and allows for other applications to be started. For PC‟s an OS would be Windows XP or Windows Vista. For a mobile device this is Windows Mobile or Windows CE. PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) Miniature industrial computer that contains hardware and software that is used to perform control functions. A PLC consists of two basic sections: the central processing unit (CPU) and the input/output interface system. TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol) TCP is one of the main protocols in TCP/IP networks. Whereas the IP protocol deals only with packets, TCP enables two hosts to establish a connection and exchange streams of data. TCP guarantees delivery of data and also guarantees that packets will be delivered in the same order in which they were sent. XML (eXtensible Markup Language) A specification developed by the W3C. XML is a pared-down version of SGML, designed especially for Web documents. It allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations. Page 14 of 14