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Check, Please: Robbins Flooring Optimizes Barcode400 for Check Printing

Robbins Inc. is the premier supplier of high-performance sports floors for the NBA, WNBA, NCAA, large arenas, fitness facilities and more. The Cincinnati-based company has manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin. And while providing basketball courts for 21 of the last 25 NBA champions sounds glamorous, Robbins has to pay its bills just like everyone else. Robbins was using legacy check printing software that was integrated into its ERP LX (formerly BPCS) application system. When the team at Robbins decided it was time to upgrade the company’s IBM i level to 6.1, no upgrade was available for the check printing software. It was time to look for a new solution.

The requirements for the replacement software were that it utilize data from Robbins’ existing files, integrate into the ERP LX system, preferably print to the company’s existing HP printer using an MICR toner cartridge and remain on the IBM i. Chuck Fieger, the project manager for implementing the new check software, explains, “We definitely wanted to stay on the System i* (IBM i). We could have uploaded and downloaded files, but that wouldn’t have been as efficient.”

Robbins started exploring its options. The company considered several check printing solutions but the acquisition cost was going to exceed $5,000 for the software alone.

While attending the COMMON Conference, a team from Robbins stopped to visit the TL Ashford booth. TL Ashford is the supplier of Barcode400 Labeling Software, which generates bar code labels directly from the IBM i and prints the labels to a multitude of supported printers. While most bar code labels are generated to thermal transfer printers, Barcode400 now supports HP and compatible laser printer models.

Robbins, a longtime customer of TL Ashford, currently applies bar code labels generated from the Barcode400 software to every item necessary to build an NBA-caliber basketball court. The software is integrated with the company’s ERP LX system so the bar code label printing is completely automated.

The conversation went directly to printing checks on Robbins’ existing HP printers. TL Ashford staff assured Robbins that the Barcode400 software was capable, and better yet, the technology was already part of the Barcode400 application that Robbins uses. No software costs would be involved. The project would only require staff time to integrate into the ERP LX system. And since Robbins had already integrated Barcode400 into its inventory control process and team members were familiar with that process, integrating Barcode400 would be a snap.

Within a week, Robbins had designed a check format within the Barcode400 application and integrated the printing of the checks into the ERP LX software. The format utilizes fields from an IBM i file, such as vendor name and number, payment date, invoice numbers to be paid, transit numbers, account numbers, check amounts, etc. A program reads the check file and generates a check for each record that requires payment. In some cases, several invoices are paid with a single check, and the invoice information is listed on the stub portion of the check. “We could have paid thousands for a new product,” Fieger says. “Instead, we implemented a perfect solution at no cost but our time.”

Realizing that Robbins’ existing Barcode400 software supports printing to HP and compatible printers, and the promise that holds, Fieger expects to convert purchase orders and invoices over to the Barcode400 software.

In an ironic twist, the software maintenance for the Barcode400 software was due soon after the implementation. Fieger adds, “We paid our maintenance with a check generated from the TL Ashford software, and it’s worth every penny!”