10 Replies Latest reply on Apr 20, 2012 9:02 AM by TamaraMiller_1

    Barcoding and batch processing



      Barcoding and batch processing


      Thanks in advance for your assistance.  I am an Engineer and not a regular FileMaker user, but have been learning bits and pieces of the software in order to try to improve our companies productivity and tracking of product.

      I have already learned how to add barcoding based on a string (such as serial number or catalog number), but I was wondering how to go about setting it up so that a wireless barcode scanner can be used to enter information about product.  While lots of people have talked of barcode scanners being more like keyboards to enter data, it seems that this binds you to your computer (use the mouse to select the cell, then scan the barcode and the value is filled in for you).  I am wondering how to set it up (or what type of barcode scanner to use) such that you can possibly scan the barcode to identify the item (part1) and then a barcode to identify the command ("move from current location to location __") then scan the barcode for the new location (locationB).

      Along these lines I am also wanting to group items.  I would like to be able to move a known quantity of items 1-30 to box "X" thus automatically decreasing those quantities by the appropriate amounts from there current location in stock, assign them to box "X" and then at some point move this box "X" from location "A" to person "B".  Then when person "B" sends it back I would like to be able to quickly process the whole group (scan barcode "X", and possibly some command barcode pulling it back into inventory "location A" and possibly another command ("all items included except ____").

      Thanks again for your assistance.

        • 1. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

          use the mouse to select the cell, then scan the barcode and the value is filled in for you

          With proper use of script triggers, a script can select the field for you, thus no user interaction other than scanning the barcode is necessary.

          Do you want to load up a wireless scanner with multiple scanned  barcodes and then download them all at a time into FileMaker?

          Or do you want to have FileMaker process each barcode scan at the moment you scan it?

          How will you specify the quantity to be moved? Scanning each separate item or by inputting the quantity manually after scanning the barcode of one item?

          • 2. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

            Thanks for the input PhilModJunk,

            I was thinking it would provide more freedom, and thus quicker results if the user wouldn't be required to interact with the computer for each new item (or cell), so it sounds like Script Triggers is what I need to look into next.

            At this point we don't have any scanner, so I was thinking we would look at getting a wireless (possibly Bluetooth or WiFi, for closer to real-time input or possibly something with storage space that then gets sinked when it is placed back in the cradle for downloading several things at a time). 

            For many of the items there is a specific serial number for each item, so each item would have to be scanned anyways, but for other items there are only lot or catalog numbers, so those we would either pull the trigger once per item, or I think we are talking of maybe a slightly more expensive scanner with a display and keyboard which would then allow for manual entry of the quantity.



            • 3. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

              If you plan on scanning items and having them processed scan by scan, get a scanner with "Keyboard Emulation". Any scanner I've seen has this capability, but check to be sure. Then make sure you can program/set it up to put characters you specify at the beginning and end of the scanned data. This text you set to be added to the beginning and end are what you can set script triggers to respond to so that your database automatically responds to the scanned data.

              We have our script trigger us OnKestroke to start a script that checks for Shift-CapsLock-~ as the sequence to initiate a scan. If detected, the script puts the cursor in a text field used to receive the scanned data. We then append an Enter character to the end of the scan and since the field's behavior is set to exit the field when this key is pressed, an OnObjectExit trigger is then use to start a script that processes the scanned data.

              If you are storing scans in the scanner and then downloading them in a batch, you'll probably be able to set this up by simply dumping all the data into a global text field, then performing a script that parses the scanned data from the global field.

              • 4. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                Do you know if most PDA style barcode scanners (such as Symbol's MC5040) have the keyboard emulation.  I don't see it specifically on its data sheet.  I think a PDA style could be very handy, especially if we are able to make a "shopping list" on the computer of the items that need to be pulled, and then as you go around with your box you can scan the items and it checks them off the list (or if done without a "shopping list" it will make a list of what all was pulled in a given group) and then all of those items can be assigned with the same information (all items move from storage to box shipped to person "B").


                • 5. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                  That's not a class of scanner I've worked with. You'll need to check with the manufacturer. Since such a device loads and downloads data in batches, I would not be suprised if it doesn't have keyboard emulation as that's most useful when you have a constant dynamic link to your database so that you can process the scans one scan at a time.

                  The key questions to ask the scanner manufacturer are: "how can I get data into and out of your device?" and "What format is this data in?"

                  • 6. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                    The Symbol MC5040 is able to run as a keyboard emulator.

                    Do you know anything about "Scan2FM".  This is what I was looking at loading onto a device like this (or even using with a USB style barcode scanner).  I have tried contacting support, but have not heard back, so was wondering if that sort of setup was easy to do with FileMaker.  I tried setting up a database as it appeared to me that this is what it was, but I was not able to set any commands like scan_time and scan_date to record additional information when a scan was performed.  Do you have recommendations for either how to set up something like this, or software that can work like this that would be available for us to try.


                    • 7. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                      If you can run it in keyboard emulation mode, do you need any additional plug ins or other software?

                      In keyboard emulation mode, you, or a script, can place the cursor in the correct field and then the data from the scanner is entered into this field. Script triggers can be used to automate both placing the cursor in this field and then in processing the data after the data from the scanner has been entered. This assumes that you can program the scanner to precede the scan with a specific combination of characters that you can check for with an OnKeystroke script trigger. 

                      After the text is entered, your "process the data" script can be initiated by another script trigger (I often set them up to append a return, tab or enter character to the end of the scan so that OnObjectExit can perform this script) or the first script can use Install On Timer Script to set this script to run a few seconds after the first script was started.

                      Either way, this script can then process your scanned data whether it be a list of scans or a single scanned bar code and it can also enter the current date and time in appropriate fields when it does so. 

                      • 8. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                        There's always the Linea-Pro, a device with barcode scanning that attaches to the Apple iPod.  Of course you'd need to develop an app for it that connects to Filemaker.  The problem with most of the true wireless barcode scanners (PDA type) is that they either store data within the device, requiring downloading to a computer, then importing into Filemaker, or requiring an application to be written that runs on the device. 

                        • 9. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                          Thanks etripoli,

                          It seems I have seen "FileMaker Go" and think that would probably be the way to go if we were using iPhones/iPods.

                          The data storage on the PDA but then being able to import to FileMaker was part of the beauty of the PDAs that could use "Scan2FM" and it appears on the video that they have created the GUI for certain windows based PDAs.  Many of the places that we are wanting to run inventory scans are not near a computer and so having it store a large quantity of items (and be able to input more information other than just the serial or catalog number of the barcode) and then sink with the system later would be nice.


                          • 10. Re: Barcoding and batch processing

                            "If you are storing scans in the scanner and then downloading them in a batch, you'll probably be able to set this up by simply dumping all the data into a global text field, then performing a script that parses the scanned data from the global field."


                            PhilModJunk - I would be sincerely appreciative if you could describe in detail how to do this. I am working on a project that necessitates tracking plants my lab generates through multiple generations. We have setup a Filemaker database to help us do pedigree tracking and each of our plants in the greenhouse gets a unique serial number/barcode. We would like to be able to batch scan the barcodes of multiple plants and then edit data for that batch all at once. How I had envisioned doing this is to use the barcode scanner to enter the batch of scans into a field in find mode and then enter data for just those plants, however, I haven't set up a script to separate each scanned barcode into a separate search (when the scanner dumps the barcodes into a field, they come out as a string of numbers). Can you describe in detail how to get around this problem? I understand the scanner needs to be programmed so that every time a barcode is scanned it enters a return, to separate each scan.