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DigitalShipper Enterprise is a very robust shipping application built on Microsoft’s .NET technologies that allows your company to integrate shipping processes and carrier compliance seamlessly into other applications and hardware. DigitalShipper’s Web Services is the ideal solution to manage the shipping label generation for your Print and Apply system.
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Print and Apply Shipping
Return to: Shipping Automation
See other topics: Batch Shipping, Inline Shipping Systems
What is Print and Apply Shipping?
Print and Apply Shipping is a fully automated system that moves packages down a conveyor line where labels are applied to the box with a mechanism that uses one of three common application methods: tamp, wipe or blow.
Print and Apply Shipping involves several hardware components: an in-motion conveyor line, a print engine, a media handler for labels and ribbons, an apparatus for applying the label to the box, a computer to feed data, and scanners and sensors to control the operation.
Some lines include optional hardware such as in-motion scales to weigh the boxes before they receive the shipping label, package dimension device to capture the box dimensions to feed to the shipping software for proper rating, and additional scanners to match the shipping label applied with the carton ID label for order accuracy.
How do I set up a Print and Apply Shipping system?
Most companies will engage with a vendor of Print and Apply systems or hire a consultant to source the hardware and software necessary for the system.
Visit other distribution facilities to get ideas and talk with others to find out the pitfalls and successes of Print and Apply Shipping systems. The vendors you have on your short list should be able to give you a list of customers as references. If you can avoid costly mistakes on your own system it is worth the time to research and gain experienced knowledge from others.
What are some important considerations for a Print and Apply Shipping system?
Throughput is a key factor to building a Print and Apply Shipping system. In order to properly spec out the hardware and software needed to do the job, you must have a clear understanding of the following:
- Number of packages expected per day
- Number of shifts expected to run per day
- Number of packages expected to run on the line per hour
- What are the peak operation hours of the day
- Do orders ship as single packages or multiple packages
- What is the ratio of domestic / international shipments
- Are the shipments small parcel or TL/LTL
- What is the peak / seasonal volume
- Do you plan on bringing on fulfillment for other companies
- Anticipated growth in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and 10 years
Space Planning is also important to properly outfit your facility for your current needs and future growth expansion. Being able to reconfigure areas of the warehouse to expand inventory storage, increase volume in shipping, utilization of more carriers, and addition of more pick/pack stations. The ability to reconfigure the conveyor lines and swap out components to handle more volume will provide flexibility to the overall process at a minimal cost.
Always plan for an Exception Station to handle packages such as ones that error out on the line (i.e. invalid zip code, unreadable carton ID, weight tolerance exceeded for the contents of the box), international shipments that require export documentation, and boxes that are too big to fit under the label applicator. More advanced systems have scanners and diverters that can direct these types of packages to the exception station for operator handling rather than diverting them to a lane at the end of the dock to be loaded onto pallets or in trailers.