One of our customers recently bought a multi-function printer, the Konica Minolta BizHub C454e which they wanted to connect to their Sage X3 ERP. The printer is one of a class of printers from Konica and several other printer manufacturers that offer an all-in-one office printing/scanning solution. It contains a printer, scanner, fax, document management and several other ‘applications’. One of they key features it has are secure print-boxes. Users can send print outs to the printer which are stored in a secure printbox on the printer’s memory. The users need to walk to the printer, swipe a card to gain access and process the prints. The client was using this to secure the printing of invoices. The client’s requirement was to:
- Look for Invoices in the ERP that are ready for printing
- Depending on who was processing the invoice, send the invoice to the appropriate users print box
- The solution should work with ANY printer
- The solution should work with minimal configuration with ANY ERP
The solution is a custom service written in Microsoft .NET designed to run on premise as a windows service or on a Windows Azure hosted cloud worker-role. The adapter queries the ERP for invoices based on configurable query criterion (in this case invoices that were marked as approved by both AR and Sales personnel).
One of the most challenging things here is connectivity with printers universally. A wide range of multi-function printers are available in the market today and not all of them support a standard API model that can be used to invoke their functionality. SDK’s are available for some of these printers but are few and far between. Even when they are available, they are not standardized. The only thing we could rely on in our design was the availability of windows print drivers for the printer. In most cases the print drivers used custom binary protocols to communicate with the printer.
Our universal adapter standardizes the communication and configuration storage process with the printers to enable seamless connectivity between ERP documentation and a wide range of printers.
- Reduced printing costs
- Integrated ERP-to-customer invoicing process
- Full tractability and audit of printing
- Duplicate prevention
The client is a distributor of Oil and Gas products in Canada and the name has been intentionally withheld. If you are interested in details of the project please feel free to get in touch with us through the website.