Zebra Programming Language (ZPL) is a standard for printing labels that is used by organizations across the world. ZPL is a pre-defined format for a label set-up in a labeling application, and the application can then print the label out in the provided format, with the label containing the values of the pre-defined ZPLs. These pre-defined ZPL formats are parameterized, which makes implementing a labeling application easy and flexible. ZPL designs can be adjusted anytime without changing the code with much effort.
In Dynamics 365 for Operations, there is a feature available to print labels using ZPL (Zebra Programming Language). In this blog, we are going to show how to do ZPL label printing after the picking process, using wave and work templates in the Advanced Warehouse Management module.
Wave and Work Template Setups
In Dynamics 365 for Operations, before labels can be printed from the Advanced Warehouse Management module, wave and work templates must be set-up with Pick, Print and Put tasks. More tasks can be added to these, but these are the minimum tasks that the system requires in order to print a label.
Wave and work templates are used when a warehouse process executes on a sales order. Based on the query provided in the wave template, it uses the wave template in the order defined and creates a wave. Waves can be processed either automatically or manually, depending on the setup.
Once a wave is processed, it creates work items for the order with Pick, Print and Put tasks, and the user then needs to complete the tasks. These tasks can be completed by one user or different users; it all depends on the business.
Essentially, the user needs to pick the items on the order, then print the label, and then put these items into the box for shipping. Multiple orders can be combined so that one wave and each work item is created for an individual order, or one wave can be created for the individual order. Dynamics 365 for Operations offers various out-of-the-box setups for wave and work templates.
Example of a Wave Template
Here is an example of a wave template to show what it looks like. There are various options available to disable/enable, such as “Automate wave creation”, “Process wave at release to warehouse”, “Automate wave release” and others. This setup is available at Warehouse management > Setup > Waves > Wave templates.
Example of a Query on a Wave Template
On the edit query option, wave template filters can be set-up by joining the template with other tables so that a particular wave template can be used by a particular order based on the query setup.
Example of a Work Template
Here is the work template example with Pick, Print and Put tasks. The edit query option is also available for work templates and can be used for a particular work template for an order, based on the query setup. This setup is available at Warehouse management > Setup > Work > Work templates
Let’s now focus on the task of printing and printing the label using ZPL. We’ll have a separate blog on wave and work template setups and in-depth details on each of those processes.
ZPL setups are done using Document routing layouts and Document routing screens.
Document Routing Layout Setup
In Dynamics 365 for Operations, ZPL formats are set-up in the Document routing layouts, as shown in the following screenshot. This setup is available at Warehouse management > Setup > Document routing > Document routing layouts.
As you see in the screenshot, there are various fields available out of the box to insert into the ZPL and values are set at runtime into this ZPL while printing. These ZPL Document routing layouts are attached to work template and printer is setup as shown in the following Document routing setup. More fields can be added with minor customizations.
Document Routing Setup
Document routing setup is available at Warehouse management > Setup > Document routing > Document routing. Here the Document routing layouts can be set-up for various out-of-the-box processes (as shown in the below screenshot) but we will just focus on the sales order label printing process using wave and work templates.
In the below screenshot, Sales order document routing is linked to Document routing layout within the “Document routing printers” tab along with the Printer name. Further, this screen has many fields so that a particular warehouse or work template can use this document routing setup. In the below screenshot, the work template field is blank which means it will be used for all work templates. Multiple document routing layouts can be added here so that multiple ZPL formats can be printed in a single task.
Different printers can be set-up for different work templates for different orders, as orders can be set-up to use different waves where various work and tasks can be linked.
Standard ZPLs are available and used by companies such as UPS, FEDEX, USPS for shipping labels. Connectship and other software systems out there also use ZPLs to print shipping and other labels.
ZPL can be designed with different out-of-the-box parameters, and when the system is ready to print, it sets these parameters with the values for the order. More parameters can be added with some customizations.
Printing a ZPL Label
When an order is ready to be picked and the user picks the items from the warehouse, it’s now time to print the label. The user can come to the work item related to the order and complete it from Dynamics 365 or from the Warehouse Management Module, or from another option available in Dynamics 365. From whichever path, the work gets completed for picking, and then the print task is executed. The system will look into the ZPL settings for the print task based on the work template, and using the printer defined in the ZPL settings, it prints the label.
The below screenshot is an example of a ZPL print.
In this blog, we have shown just one example of printing labels via ZPL format. In Dynamics 365 for Operations, these ZPL setups are already used by various processes. However, these ZPL setups can be used for any printing with minor customizations.
This article is part of our Dynamics 365 Roadmap series that helps companies stay up to date on the latest Dynamics 365 releases. To see our previous posts, click here to view our roadmap.
For questions on ZPL printing in Dynamics 365 for Operations, please contact Hitachi Solutions today.