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Improved Inventory Management

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Save Time with Automated Ordering

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Improved Customer Service

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Real Time Business Critical Information

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Estimates

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Work Orders and Pick Lists

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RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization)

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Ship Partial Orders

Hardware Items

File Server

As the backbone of your business, the server hardware must be of server quality, not just a low end work station. This does not mean you need to spend a lot of money, but if you buy a discount machine to use as a server, there is a higher probability that you will run into problems. For minimum requirements of exactly which CPU, RAM etc to purchase, please refer to the Minimum Requirements for the Server Software that you are going to purchase.

Windward System Five will work well with Microsoft Windows 2000, 2003 or 2008 Server in either a 32 bit or 64 bit architecture as the operating systems for your network. For more information click here for our networking best practices.

Workstations

Your workstations need not be as powerful and robust as your Server hardware, but faster is better. For minimum requirements of exactly which CPU, RAM etc to purchase, please refer to the Minimum Requirements for the Operating System Software that you are going to purchase with your hardware.

These machines can run Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7. For more information click here for our support equipment list. For those who are looking at updated systems and hardware, Windows 8 is currently not supported by Windward Software. It is under development and should be available soon.

 

File Server

As the backbone of your business, the server hardware must be of server quality, not just a low end work station. This does not mean you need to spend a lot of money, but if you buy a discount machine to use as a server, there is a higher probability that you will run into problems. For minimum requirements of exactly which CPU, RAM etc to purchase, please refer to the Minimum Requirements for the Server Software that you are going to purchase.

Windward System Five will work well with Microsoft Windows 2000, 2003 or 2008 Server in either a 32 bit or 64 bit architecture as the operating systems for your network. For more information click here for our networking best practices.

 

 

General Printers

Laser printers are the best option because they are quiet, fast and can handle images very well for printing documents that enhance your company's identity (logos letterhead, etc).

Receipt Printers

Generally, a receipt printer prints, a receipt which is 40 columns wide; however, a receipt can also be 80 columns wide which is the width of a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper. The 80 column format is usually printed on an impact or dot matrix printer which allows 2, 3 or 4 copies to be simultaneously printed. This application is most common when pick slips and packing slips are required at the point of sale. Thermal process 80 column printers, though not common are available. There are two basic types of receipt printers (based on print method)

 

Impact or Dot Matrix

These printers print approximately 10 mm per second, relatively slow in the world of receipt printers, they require ink ribbons which can have two colors, they make a fair amount of noise , but allow simultaneous printing of two receipts which can either create a paper listing of daily transactions for auditing purposes or provides a customer copy for signature with credit card sales.

Thermal

These printers print from 70 mm to 150mm per second, are silent, print on treated paper with no ribbons to replace, are capable of two color printing and can print graphics and barcodes.

 

Direct Thermal

The direct thermal process is more commonly used in barcode label printers for it produces a printed product that has a very long usable life, up to 3 years, verses 1 year for thermal process. The direct thermal print method uses ink ribbons that are heated and print on plain paper.

Options

All types of 40 column printers have options for auto cutting of the receipt once the printing is finished (actually all but 1/16th on an inch of the paper is cut). Almost all printers come in a variety of interfaces, parallel, serial and USB. Plus many printers are configured with an RJ-11 output jack for use with printer driven cash drawers.

 

Barcode Hardware

We recommend the Symbol brand of scanners, but any scanner that supports pre-amble characters and uses a keyboard wedge or USB connection will work with Windward System Five. The scanners come in different shapes and sizes, from handhelds, to counter mounted to the large flat bed scanners like you see in grocery stores.

Barcode scanners use a variety of methods to "read" the small vertical lines and spaces of a barcode label. The scanner actually processes the information it reads sending the equivalent of letters and numbers to any of a number of interfaces within System Five. Barcode scanners are generally of three types: Closed Coupled Devices (CCD), Linear Imagers and Laser Scanners.

CCD

The CCD Scanner is the least expensive, costing around $200 per unit, but it is limited in the size and type of barcodes it can effectively "read". The barcodes must be so called "low density" and must be flat. A low density printed barcode is 3/8’ to 1⁄2" high and has long as it needs to be to convey all the numbers and letters, typically the barcodes are printed on 2 5/8" x 1" address sized labels. Flat means that the scanner can not read a label on a can or bottle for example. It is also necessary with CCD scanners to actually or almost touch the scanner to the barcode to get a good read.

 

Laser

At the opposite end of the quality and price spectrum is the laser scanner. Most laser scanners will read so called high density barcodes as small as 1/8" high and can read from a distance of 6 inches to 3 feet or more. Cost is at least double from a CCD scanner, $400 to $800. On the down side, the equipment is somewhat sensitive to repeated dropping as the mirrors used to align the laser light tend to become out-of-alignment.

Linear Imagers

Not too hot, not too cold, the linear imager is the Goldilocks of barcode scanners. The ability to read is almost, but not quite, as good as a laser and the cost is about in the middle between CCD and Laser scanners. The important factor in favor of the linear lmager is it’s durability, it can handle the shock from repeated drops much better than it’s laser based cousins, making it a good candidate for industrial applications.

 

Cash Drawers

When an invoice is completed and is being printed, Windward System Five can send the codes to open the cash drawer. In most cases, the cash drawer will be hooked up to your receipt printer, but there are other methods of connecting the cash drawer to the computer.

Windward System Five supports all standard point of sale hardware. To find out how to implement System Five in your existing network, call one of our technicians today.

Cash drawers come in a variety of sizes, but all basically perform the same function. Sizes range from 16" by 16" to 19" by 22", the determing factor primarily being the location of the drawer in the sales counter for all cash drawers have at least five bill slots in their removable plastic "tills". Most cash drawers have tills with locking covers which is a good way to control cash when a business has multiple clerks.

Display Monitors

Display monitors can be exactly the same as your home or office computer display monitor, that is probably a 15" or 17" VGA type monitor, however many POS applications, because of the sales counter layout require, smaller screens. Typically you will find 9 inch to 12.1 inch screens in use. The smallest and least expensive is a 9" monochrome monitor, which uses various shades of gray to display images on its screen. Full color VGA monitors are available as small as 10", and flat screen monitors usually start at 12.1 inches.

Touchscreens

The trend in POS is probably toward touch Screens which basically combine a mouse pointer and a display screen, and allow the usr to physically point to a selection on the screen and by touching the panel make a selection. Touch screens are available as either flat screens, TFT or the traditional Cathode ray tube (CRT) type. There are two technologies used to allow a touch screen to work, pressure and resistive.

Resistive, is the more recent and better as the pressure method actually requires a slight amount of physical pressure to bring together two invisible grids which cover the screen ( the convergence of the grids along an x and y axis is sensed); while the resistive method senses changes in resistance in a single grid along an x and y axis that cover the screen.

One important consideration with touch screens is the way the screen built and attached to a base. Because the screen is subjected to a great deal of handling it should be framed in durable metal and have a strong metal base.

Magnetic Card Readers

Magnetic Card or Strip Readers (generally referred to as MSRs) are simply devices which can "read" and send via cable to a computer program the information contained on a credit card or other card with a magnetic strip. There are actually 3 different lines of information contained in most magnetic strips, which are referred to as "tracks" with credit card processing programs generally only needing the 2nd track. Some POS programs will require the reader itself to be "programmed " (usually by pre programmed magnetic card) to selectively read certain tracks, while programs contain code which makes the selection. Connection to the computer is by either PS2, Keyboard wedge or serial (9 pin or 20 pin), again the correct method is determined by the POS software.

Customer / Pole Displays

The pole display or customer display is a device which communicates messages to the customer as well as price, quantity and total information. The display is somewhat like a little television screen and usually sits atop a pole on the sales counter. The different characteristics from which you can chose from are primarily the size and the type of characters used.

The size of the characters is a concern for the average distance the display will be viewed. Sizes generally range from 5mm to 25 mm. The way the characters, are formed, either dot matrix or segment affect readability and affect the type of characters that can be formed. Dot matrix allows much more different types of characters and is generally considered more readable.

Portable Data Collection Devices

Several manufacturers make handheld devices for data collection. These devices usually have a built in bar code scanner are useful for a number different tasks. The handheld can, depending upon the software, be used to count inventory, receive purchase orders and even check out customers.

Combination Keyword and Magnetic Strip Reader

The combination of input devices works well to keep solve an old problem of how to mount the relatively small MSR in a way that allows card to be dragged through it without it being pushed around the counter top. The device also helps keep the sales counter from becoming too cluttered.

There are many other variations on the major types of devices mentioned here and depending on specific needs may be appropriate. The biggest concern is getting all of the devices to work together so care must be taken in mapping out which device will use what computer resource, and that there are enough resources available. That is if you will be using a serial port for a cash drawer, and you require one for a customer display you will either need to add a port to the standard computer configuration or change the cash drawer connection.

Computer & Operating Systems

While a full discussion is well beyond the scope of this article, a few brief words may be helpful to avoid problems down the road.

Dedicated Computer for Point of Sale useBecause of the reliance placed on the point of sale system in terms of its daily use to process customer sales, and especially when the system includes integrated credit card processing, it is strongly recommended that the only task done at the POS sales station is sales, and no other software program be used. Allowing other software programs to add possibly conflicting settings files and other changes to the operating system is simply not a good idea when one considers the downside of a system breakdown. In a network environment, it is suggested that the POS database be place on the POS Sales station on its own partition of a harddrive for easy back up (when it is easy to back up more backing up is done).