Maxa Technologies plc (Maxatec), leading supplier of receipt and label printing products, has supplied 650 Extech S3500 Bluetooth printers to the Slovakian Railways (ZSSK).  Systems integrator Prosoft worked with Maxatec to integrate mobile printing as part of the overall point-of-sale and ticketing application.  The initial installation included 350 Extech printers, each connected via BluetoothTM to iPAQ 3970/5550 hand held terminals.  

Part of the transformation and restructuring of ZSSK involves the modernisation of their information technology and network systems.  This included the requirement to establish up-to-date wireless technology via mobile terminals and mobile printers for selling train tickets and providing services.

At the beginning of each shift the conductor logs onto the system via the PDA by swiping an ID-Card through the Magnetic Card Reader (MCR) of the mobile printer.   Tickets are issued by entering the station of departure and the destination into a hand held iPAQ. The software then calculates the fare and a ticket is automatically printed via the BluetoothTM connection to the Extech S3500 printer. 

At the end of a shift the conductor synchronises the data stored in the PDA with a central cluster via a Wide Area Network (WAN).  The iPAQ transfers data via BluetoothTM to a BT Access Point, which in turn forwards the information via cable to a local PC.

A representative from ZSSK said, "Our key objective is to fulfil the EU criteria and establish a modern infrastructure for our railway. The combined expertise and innovation of Prosoft and Maxatec has been a key element in helping us to achieve our objectives.  Moreover, our employees are pleased not only with the ease of use of the point-of-sale system, making our ticketing process more efficient, but it also enhances their job satisfaction by enabling them to offer instant travel services and information to the customers via their PDAs."

The printer sits in a small neat leather shoulder bag which is positioned to allow the 10 cm ticket to be printed downwards, thus allowing the conductor to tear the ticket upwards for a neat cut.

To address the data security requirements, the data between the PDA and the printer is encrypted. Transaction data is stored in the memory of the PDA and on an additional Secure Digital Card (SD-Card) put into a free slot of the iPAQ as back-up. The application also automatically shuts down when idle to protect the data. The system can provide daily electronic reporting and capture various statistics such as number of passengers travelling that day.

Mirko Biscan, Maxatec Business Development Manager - Mobile Products, said, "We have worked closely with Prosoft on this project for Slovakian rail. The Extech S3500 printer was particularly suitable for the installation due to its proven track record with BluetoothTM technology and its robust construction. We are looking forward to the next phase of installing a further 300 printers over the next few months."

The Extech S3500 is a lightweight rugged printer providing multiple interface options and flexibility.  These include BluetoothTM, Magnetic Card Reader, Infrared (IrDA), RS-232 serial port and a Smart Card Reader.  Extra long battery life is available for high duty-cycle applications.

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