Setting up and Maintaining Kitchen Printers can be a daunting task, the truth is, there are three different modules to program, so I wrote this article to try and make it easier to understand.
Types of Printers
We can Identify 2 Types of Printers in Oracle Simphony:
- Local Printers
- Remote Printers
Local Printers are the ones attached directly to the workstations via an IDN or Serial Cable.
They are mainly used to print Guest Checks and are typically Thermal Printers.
They print fast and silently so that they don’t disturb the Bar or Restaurant operations.
Remote Printers are the ones we typically see in the Kitchens and are IP Printers.
They are mainly used to print the Menu Item Tickets sent by the Servers and Bartenders.
They print slower than Thermal Printers and also make noise. This is because they use an impact head that strikes a ribbon onto the paper, and also to alert the kitchen staff about the new Order.
The Local Printers are usually trouble free so we will focus on the Kitchen Printers, since these are the ones that usually cause issues.
Kitchen Printer Network Communication
If you are reading this article, you are probably interested in adding or maintaining your kitchen printers, so why am writing about Network Communication?
Well, these small printers are very different from a large Office Printer, specifically in the fact that they don’t have an integrated print controller.
What does that mean? An Office printer, like the one you have at your Desk or Home is a “smart printer”. When a computer, or phone send it a print job, it can intemperate this message and start printing.
A Kitchen Printer is a “dumb printer”, meaning that it cannot execute a print job by itself, it needs a Print Controller to tell it exactly what to do.
So what is a Print Controller? It is a service that runs on the workstations that interpreted the message and “translate it” into a message the printer can understand in order to print.
I know this complicates things and I wish they would have made this system simpler so I made this graphics to help you understand.
This is a simple Network diagram with 2 Workstations and 2 Printers connected via the Network. Dining Room WS1 has an Integrated Print Controller that is used both for it’s Local Printer and the Kitchen Hot Printer.
If we send a Print Job: “Caesar Salad” from the Bar Workstation to the Kitchen Printer, the message (Red Line) first goes to the Print Controller (Dining Room WS1 in this case).
The Print Controller receives the messages, it “translates it” and then forwards it to the Kitchen Printer. (Blue Line)
Ok, that is all fine and well, but why did I have to explain all of that? Because it’s important to understand this communication in order to Program and Troubleshoot issues when they appear.
If a Kitchen Printer is not working properly, we will have to first check the printer (see if it has power, paper and the network cable is connected and the light is blinking), and then also check it’s print controller (Dining Room WS 1 – in our example) and make sure it is on and it can communicate to the kitchen printer and other workstations as well.
A Typical Kitchen Printer Setup
That Simple Diagram helped us understand the basic communication between workstations and printers, and now we can go a step further and take a look at a typical Network setup with 2 Kitchen Printers and 2 Workstations.
In this Example we have 2 Kitchen Printers: one for Hot Food and one for Salads, and 2 workstations, each one controlling one of the printers. We also setup the printers to back up to each other, in case one of them stops working for any reason.
Let’s say that Dining Room WS1 loses power and goes offline, the local printer and the Hot Printer in the kitchen will also stop working due to the lack of a print controller.
So what happens when a the Bar Workstation attempts to Print a Hamburger Ticket in the Hot Printer? It will attempt to contact the controller at Dining Room WS1 and notice that it’s not responding. (Green Line)
After that it will try to contact the back-up controller (Dining Room WS2), which will route the message to the back-up Salad Kitchen Printer. (Yellow Line)
Now that we Have a better understanding of Print Controllers, the network Communication and the Importance of Back-ups, lets dive into Programming our Kitchen Printers in EMC.
Kitchen Printers - EMC
We can find the Printers Module in EMC only at the Property Level, under the Setup Tab, in the Hardware/Interfaces Area.
Here we will find Both our Local Printer as well as Kitchen and Bar Printers.
To Add a New Kitchen Printer, simply Click the Insert Key at the top of the Screen. (Green Circle with White Plus Sign in it).
- Number (#): Any number you want.
- Name: A descriptive name for the Printer. (Example: Pizza Printer).
- Type: Ethernet Printer (IP Printers).
- IP: The IP address assigned by your network manager.
- Port: Default is 9100.
After Assigning the IP address in EMC, you will need to configure the printer to use that IP. The easiest way to do this is by using the Epson Net Configure Utility. Detailed instructions and Download Link Here.
Order Devices - EMC
The Second Step in configuring our Kitchen Printer is to Program our Order Devices.
Order Devices can be found at the RVC Level Only, under the Setup Tab, Hardware/Interfaces Area.
There are a total of 32 Order Devices that can be added in Simphony, to add a new one, simply locate an empty field and type the name of your new printer. (Pizza Printer).
Order Devices Options:
- Number (#): Any number you want.
- Name: A descriptive Name (Pizza Printer).
- Device Type: Remote
- Primary device Type: Printer
- Device Number: Click on the ellipsis next to that field (…) and select the printer we just added in the previous module.
- Backup Device: Select a Printer that is physically the closest to it (Grill Printer). If the printer goes offline, the backup will print a ticket in it’s place.
- Save Your setting and refresh the Page. (Blue arrows on the top left of your screen). – This is important, do not skip!
- Order Device Redirect: Select itself from the dropdown list. This sounds strange, but the default option is No Output. If you do not Redirect to itself, the printer will not work.
- Sort/Consolidation: Do Not Sort. If you want to combine menu items on the tickets, experiment with the other options.
- Options Bits: I selected: 1, 6, 7 and 10.
Important: Order Devices are an RVC Level setting, that means that you have to repeat the programming to all the other RVC’s that will use this Order Device.
Print Classes - EMC
The Third Step in Configuring our Kitchen Printer is to Configure our Print Classes. These classes group the Order devices and link them to the Menu Items.
You can open Print Classes at any Level in Simphony (Enterprise, Property or RVC), under the Configuration Tab, in the Menu Items Section.
I have mine defined at the Enterprise Level, so make sure to check what level you have yours setup.
To Add a new Print Class, use the Insert Button at the top of the Page.
Print Class Options:
- Number (#): Any number you want.
- Name: A Descriptive Name (Expo/Pizza).
- Options: I have selected 1,2 and 3.
- Output: Check the boxes for the Order Devices Number that you want to use: I use
- #1 (Expo)
- #6 (Pizza)
You can find the number of the device in the previous Module: Order Devices.
Important: If you are adding a new Order Device, make sure to check all the order Print Classes and add it when necessary.
Example: All Kitchen, Kitchen Only, Mods, $Mods.
If you are adding Order Device #6 – Pizza, and the “Mods” Print Class does not have #6 checked, the modifiers (condiments) will not be allowed to print at the Pizza Printer and all the special requests will be ignored.
Linking to Menu Items
Now that we have our new Kitchen Printer added, we can link it to our Menu Items using the Print Class that we created.
You can link the new Print Class in 2 locations:
- Menu Item Classes
- Menu Item Print Class Override.
Menu Item Classes can be found at all level Levels in Simphony, under the Configuration Tab, Menu Items Area.
Open the module, create a new Class using an existing template, and change the Print Class to the one we just created. (General Tab, lower bottom section).
We can also control where a menu item is printing using Print Class Overrides.
- Open the Menu Item Maintenance Module. Configuration Tab, Menu Items Area.
- Click Search to Populate the Menu Item Database.
- Open the Definitions Records (Bottom of the screen).
- Find the menu item and change it’s Print Class Override.
Pro Tip: Chose a Method and stick to it. Either use Multiple Menu Item Classes, or use Print Class Overrides, but not both in order to keep the database clean.
When testing, remember to update the database on the workstations by manually pressing the Update button, or wait 5 minutes for it’s auto-update.
Now It's Your Turn
So that’s my guide on how to add Kitchen Printers in Oracle Micros Simphony.
Now, I’d like to hear what you have to say:
Are you having Printer issue that you are trying to fix?
Or do you need to add new Printers to your system?
Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.