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Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

 
Niall76
Frequent Advisor

Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Hi,

We have been using various models of Zebra printers and they all take pretty much the same time to print. However a customer has a perception that these printers are slow (at least 5 seconds before they start to print). Our aim is to try and reduce this.

We use DS20 and Alpha Servers 1200 running OpennVMS 7.3. We use the following commands to configure our printers:

$ DEFINE/SYSTEM TCPIP$TELNETSYM_IDLE_TIMEOUT "0 00:00:02.00"
$ DEFINE/SYSTEM TCPIP$TELNETSYM_RETRY_INTERVAL "0 00:00:02.00"
$!
$! Printer1
$!
$ INIT/QUE/PROC=TCPIP$TELNETSYM/RETAIN=ERROR/RECORD_BLOCKING/SCHEDULE=NOSIZE/ -
DEFAULT=(NOBURST,NOFEED, NOFLA,NOTRAIL) PRINTER1/ON:"10.10.10.10:9100"
$!
$ START/QUE printer1
$ SET DEF SYS$SYSTEM

$ MC LATCP CREATE PORT LTA200:
$!
$ SET DEVICE/SPOOLED=(PRINTER1, SYS$SYSDEVICE:) LTA200:


We setup a trace using Wireshark and noticed that most of the delay is in 'handshaking' and whatever else goes on from printing from VMS to the Zebra Printer. In the attached trace it is just over 5 seconds before the printing template arrives at the printer. The printers only takes a fraction to process and start to print.

Does anyone know how to better setup the printing queue or anything else that might increase performance? Any and all help is much appreciated.

Thanks, Niall
8 REPLIES 8
Jeremy Begg
Trusted Contributor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Hi Niall,

How does the job get printed? Do you create a file and then print it to PRINTER1 print queue, or does your application do this:

open LTA200:
write Zebra stuff to LTA200:
close LTA200:

If you're going via LTA200 I could well imagine there would be a second or two between requesting the label and the corresponding codes being sent to the printer.

Secondly, the printer might have an ethernet-to-serial adapter of some sort, either an external box (e.g. a JetDirect box) or an embedded adapter. In either case, the speed of the serial link is very important. E.G. if its set to 9600 baud you can expect a 2Kbyte file (like your sample) to take about 2 seconds to print. Longer if it's set slower (e.g. 4800baud -> 4 seconds to print).

Regards,
Jeremy Begg
Niall76
Frequent Advisor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your quick response.

I'm not 100% sure how our application prints to the printer, but the trace I took was taken using the print command in VMS:
print/queue=printer1 printer1.template.
Both our application and Print command in VMS take the same time.

To answer your question about the printer. It is connected directly via Ethernet.

Two seconds we could live with, but ours is taking 5 and sometimes more to just arrive at the printer. In the trace, the template is No. 11 @ 5.0039seconds to arrive. My guess is everything else up to that point is probably handshaking. Is there a more efficient way to setup this kind of printer?

Thanks, Niall
Andy Bustamante
Honored Contributor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

First step in checking network issues to to verify speed and duplex settings on the Alphaservers, printers, and switches.
If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? Reach me at first_name + "." + last_name at sysmanager net
Niall76
Frequent Advisor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Hi Andy,

This is where i was thinking the issue was. So we tried plugging both the Alphaserver and printer into the same 100mb Hub (with Alpha server manually set to 100 full duplex, but not sure about the printer, but should autosync to the same) and it still took 5 seconds to arrive. Not sure what this really proves however.

Thanks, Niall
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Get the print queuing out of the way.

The default S4M is a USB and serial printer, which implies there's a NIC or terminal server in the way.

Probably get that out of the way, too.

You might try a spooled device here, but - for this hyper-caffeinated customer requirement - I'd likely just send the file directly to the device; to go print to the device "the old fashioned way. I'd probably go hard-wire to the device, too, and get the network out of the path.

Even better, I'd replace all this cruft with something that printed INSTANTLY. Or SOONER. Build whatever it is that you need into the printer, and connect there from the host. (If you work it right, you might be able to start printing before you have your data back from the host.) Or send the customer a case of decaf.

Your call...
Niall76
Frequent Advisor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

touche sir!

I know, I have already had a similiar response from our own IT, maybe not so well put!

Apparently when printing up to 5000 labels a day accross multiple printers it add's up! Who would have guess it? :P

All joking aside, i was hoping that there may have been a more efficient way to setup a print que.

Niall
abrsvc
Respected Contributor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Just to be clear, is the delay in the transport to the printer or in the printing of the label itself? I use many variants of Zebra printers without any appreciable delays such as you describe connected via LAT and IP. Are you locading hte label format with each label or are you using an internally stored label?

Dan
Muldowney_E
Occasional Contributor

Re: Long delay in printing to the new Zebra S4M printers

Hi Dan,

We think the issue is related to the time it takes to get the request to the printer. The label is created on the VMS host. We do not use an internally stored label.

I hope this answers your questions.

Best regards,

Eamon