Digital displays using e-inks, i.e. electronic ink-based digital displays, are now ranging in size from quite small to A4 and can be used for several purposes in retail, logistics and industry. In retail, an electronic price tag (also known as a digital shelf label) shows the price of the products, in large warehouses or production facilities information are provided on these digital displays from those who organizes work processes to the employees working there.
SRS’s e-ink based solutions:
- digital price tags in stores and shops,
- digital shelf labels in pharmacies,
- electronic tablet in the field of industry and logistics.
For convenience and department store systems
You can expand your cash register system with an electronic shelf label (ESL – electronic shelf label). ESL shows the prices based on the data base of the store’s cash register system – in other words, it ensures that customers can always see the same prices on the shelves which are in the cash register.
Digital price tags can be easily connected to databases – back office software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), CRM, etc.
The device continuously receives and displays current information, text and graphic content, such as:
- selling price of the products,
- price of a given unit of measurement,
- current promotion, discount in HUF or as a percentage,
- logo, emblem,
- product evaluation,
- reorder items,
E-paper (e-ink) technology
Electronic shelf labels are made using e-paper (e-ink) technology.
E-paper reflects external light and has a particularly high contrast; its readability is often better, even in direct sunlight, than that of text written on traditional paper in black or colour ink. In addition to black and white, the colour of the pixels can be red or yellow.
E-paper can display static content indefinitely without energy consumption. It only requires energy when its contents change, so items on shelf labels only need to be replaced every 5 years or less.
How does it work?
The cash register IT system communicates with the shelf labels using radio frequency signals through one or more transceivers located in the store. The labels thus do not require wiring and only need to be replaced every 5 years.
We can export the data of the articles from the database of the cash register or back office system to the shelf labels, and then we also get accurate feedback on which device we sent what information to and whether the data transfer was successful.
A wide range of shelf-mounted rails and a custom holder that can be mounted on a wall or hung on a blister holder is available for placing labels. Each label is linked based on the unique identifier assigned to it by a barcode and the unique barcode identifier of the associated goods (e.g. EAN code).
The smallest labels are 4 cm in diameter and the largest are nearly A4 in size. The most commonly used sizes are 1.6″, 2.2″, 2.6″, and 4.2″.
Electronic shelf labels are also great for use in pharmacies to price products that are placed on officina shelves.
Digital price tags help the customer get accurate information at a minute on product names, prices, unit prices, and any discounts. At the same time, they allow the pharmacy to easily change prices without having to pay attention to exchanging price tags.
The labels can be connected to all pharmacy IT systems used in Hungary today.
Benefits of the labels
- no need to price tag or print,
- zippy re-pricing,
- start and display actions from the computer screen,
- single data recording in the pharmacy system – error excluded,
- filling up shelves without pricing,
- customer’s mobile phone can be redirected to the website of the selected product for more information,
- innovative, attractive appearance for customers,
- each label has a small battery that contains enough charge for at least 5 years, as only the minimum power required to change images,
- labels show a very clear, sharp image from any angle.
How can labels be affixed to shelves?
At the bottom of the shelves shown in the top picture are transparent label rails, and the labels are placed in them. The labels are fixed in the rails and can only be removed or shifted with a special magnetic tool. But the labels can be placed not only on rails, but also on the bars holding the blisters, one by one. In addition, a wide variety of custom holders are available.
Examples of application
An average size pharmacy requires 500-1000 labels. The control software can be installed on the computer on which the pharmacy system is running, so that the data to be displayed can be easily transferred from one system to another. There is even a communication unit (Access Point) as shown in the picture, which connects to the computer via a local Ethernet network and communicates with the labels in two-way electromagnetic waves.
Labels come in a variety of sizes from 4cm diagonal to nearly A4, but in a pharmacy, the smaller ones can also be used well. For example, even the smallest 152 x 152 dots can be displayed in 3 colours (black, white, red), so – as shown in the examples below – these small labels are also great for informing customers.
The above images are only examples; the displayed graphics can be created with any design software.
The installation of such a system can be done in 1-2 days, including the installation of rails and brackets, the installation of labels, the installation of the Access Point and software, the design of the graphics and the binding of the labels with the associated goods. The latter is very simple and fast, all you have to do is scan the unique barcode on the label and the barcode of the product in one go with either a handheld barcode scanner or a mobile phone.
Electronic shelf labels, also known as digital whiteboards, are also increasingly used to manage production and logistics processes. SRS also delivers solutions in this area.
These digital displays are increasingly used in industry, warehousing, assembly plants, production halls to convey any information from production managers to plant workers that was previously handed over on paper.
The boards work on the principle of e-ink (electronic ink, e-paper), which means that no energy is needed to maintain the images, only for modifications and communication between the computer system controlling the boards, which require negligible energy. Thus, in the case of an average of 2 image changes per day, it is sufficient to replace the elements in the tables after 5 years. The tables operate with two-way data communication, thus confirming the performance of image changes and providing data on their status, e.g. the battery charge level.
Principle of operation
The pixels are made up of microcapsules containing coloured particles with different electrical charges for each colour. Among the particles, the desired colour can be brought to the surface by connecting a static electric field of appropriate polarity. The basic colours of the particles are white and black, and there is also a third colour, which can be red or yellow.
Advantages of industrial application of boards
- display accurate and up-to-date information in the right place
- barcode or QR code identifiers of the operations to be performed or the materials and tools to be used can be easily written on a board at any time according to the task to be performed,
- production managers must send the information to the appropriate point of the plant, not on paper, in printed form: the information reaches its destination electronically without error or delay,
- it is also possible to trace back in time when instructions were issued, which can lead to more disciplined work, thus improving quality and reducing costs,
- e-ink boards store information in sharp and easy-to-read images without power and energy consumption,
- it is easy to create an interface that works with batch information transferred in a file, e.g. passes the data to be displayed from a production management system to the e-ink tables.
For industrial applications, the following table sizes are most common:
|Dimensions (mm)||80 × 41||104 × 82||175 × 123||218 × 265|
|Resolution (pixels)||296 × 152||400 × 300||800 × 480||759 × 960|
|Lifespan||5 Years||5 Years||5 Years||5 Years|
|Number of pages stored||4||4||4||6|
The complex industrial application of an A4 tablet is shown in the image below. On a 12.2-inch diagonal board, 90 data fields appear in this application. This table can store 6 full pages in the background in its memory, which can be switched between without having to download them again. The switch can be done with an industrial PDA or even an ordinary mobile phone: the first step is to read the barcode’s unique ID on the tablet and then select the page you want to see.
This smaller table is used for warehouse collection, where the IDs of the current item can be scanned with a barcode scanner:
The boards are controlled by electromagnetic waves. This requires so-called Access Points, similar to those used in WiFi networks, which have an Ethernet network connection to the control computer. These devices are designed so that their operation does not interfere with WiFi networks, the two networks can operate in one airspace, independently of each other.
There are two software products connected to the system: one controls the tables, the other allows you to graphically edit the appearance of the images on the tables.
Java-based control software called JEEGY, which runs on Windows, Windows server, or Linux operating systems, can control all APs on a site or even multiple remote sites over appropriate LAN and WAN connections.
Images are created in the system by loading specific data into a pre-designed image template (e.g., product name, part number, production parameters, etc., to be manufactured on a given day as determined by production management). Image templates are defined in the template to which the data fields of a data record must be linked. For a specific data record, the current data in the corresponding data fields is displayed in the corresponding image fields. The records of the data to be displayed are received through web service or XML or batch data in CSV files from the enterprise management system through an interface.