Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Integrating AS 400 & Print On-Demand Color Labels

Conn-Selmer, ( under a portfolio of brands, is the leading manufacturer and distributor of musical instruments for student, amateur, and professional use.  With a tradition of innovation, and superior musical performance, brands such as Vincent Bach, CG Conn, King, Holton, Selmer, Armstrong, Leblanc, Ludwig, Musser, Scherl & Roth, Glaesel, and William Lewis have earned a legacy of respect unparalleled by any other builders.  Conn-Selmer is also the North American distributor of Selmer Paris woodwinds, the US distributor of Yanagisawa saxophones, and the global distributor of the Jiggs pBone (the world's only plastic trombone).  With a focus on quality craftsmanship, Conn-Selmer operates US production facilities in Elkhart, IN, Cleveland, OH, Eastlake, OH, Lagrange, IL, and Monroe, NC.  

According to Joe Shore of Conn-Selmer, “Marketing decided to add color to the labels located on and/or in some of our products; starting with drum sets.  Instead of purchasing preprinted labels, we decided to print color labels as they were required right on the production line.”

To look at a solution for print on-demand color labels, Joe contacted Robert (Bob) Lehman of IMCORP (  IMCORP is a Georgia corporation that specializes in providing input, output and connectivity solutions to corporate users of Information Technology.  IMCORP offers a wide array of hardware and software products and complementary services at competitive prices. But, they’re most effective when solving problems and creating customer specific solutions.

According to Bob “Conn-Selmer required a label to place inside the base drum shell.  Once applied, Conn-Selmer needed to over-spray the entire inside surface of the shell, including the label with lacquer.  They were concerned about how the ink would withstand this treatment.  In addition, Conn-Selmer wanted to make sure the labels made economic sense”.  

Based on this requirement, I produced a variety of labels for Conn-Selmer to test.  After applying the labels and spraying with lacquer, they saw the ink was sufficiently durable for this application.  Once label durability was confirmed, I provided a demo printer to Conn-Selmer to develop their overall solution.

To produce the labels, Conn-Selmer needed a solution that required getting serial numbers from their AS400.  Given this requirement, Bob recommended BarTender Software (with their Commander middleware utility) (  According to Tom Cunningham of Seagull Software, “the Commander utility allows companies like Conn-Selmer to move data and commands from outside of BarTender into this label printing software.  Commander makes BarTender easy to integrate into other software programs.”

Joe says, “The AS400 places the serial number in a text file along with other print commands into a shared folder on a PC running BarTender Commander.  We use the AS400 QNTC file system to connect to the PC’s shared folder.  No ftp, smtp, or any other fancy communications are required.”

“With the data from the AS400, Commander controls BarTender to produce the label using the established format and the variable data from the AS400 file system,” said Bob.  Continuing, “it’s an easy to integrate utility to enable label printing from an AS400”.

If you like this post, you may find this other post covering integration into SAP of value also:

Print on-demand color label solutions like the one deployed by Conn-Selmer save manufacturer’s money and time.  Probably more importantly, this process would seem to reduce labor, eliminate potential errors and eliminate preprinted label inventory.  Consider taking a lesson from Joe’s and Bob’s experience to build this type of great solution on you or your customer’s manufacturing line.

Guy Mikel

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