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Frequently Asked Questions on TOPS Pro Package Design and Palletization Software

Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding use of the TOPS Pro software. If you have other questions or require assistance, please contact our tech support team at 972-739-8677. MVP subscribers will receive unlimited technical assistance during their maintenance contract term.

  1. How is stand-alone license different from the network license? We expect to have 3 users for TOPS, what type of license configuration should I get?
  2. Can I install TOPS on a Citrix server or use terminal server? What requirements are there and what steps should I take?
  3. Where are the TOPS data saved? Can I access them outside the TOPS application?
  4. What special steps should I take to move the TOPS Pro software to a different machine?
  5. I'm trying to remove all the TOPS Pro files after uninstalling. What do I need to delete?
  6. When I try to run TOPS Pro, I get an error message saying, "Maximum of 1 user(s) already logged in." But I know that no one else is using the program. What's going on?
  7. I can't find yesterday's work. What happened to it?
  8. Is there a way to transfer complete files/analyses from one user to another?
  9. How do I tell what version of TOPS Pro I have and its serial number?
  10. How do I use Adobe Acrobat to create PDF documents?
  11. Can I use the TOPS data with MS Word or Excel?
  12. Is TOPS compatible with Artios CAD? Is it possible to import cartons designed with Artios into TOPS?
  13. I would like to use TOPS 3D output in a report, what is the best way to get a high quality output?
  14. Can I have the program print fractions instead of decimals?
  15. How do I change the number of decimals for my results?
  16. Is it possible to display both English/Metric dimensions in the output?
  17. How do I change the language I see in TOPS?
  18. The lines on TOPS Pro's reports are too fine. When I fax the reports, the lines are so narrow they almost disappear and have gaps. How do I fix this?
  19. How do I change the colors of the cartons, shipcases, etc.? When I print in color, some colors are so dark they print nearly black.
  20. Can I define my own dividers and box styles?
  21. What is "pitch?"
  22. What is Secondary Pallet Pattern and how do I use it?
  23. What does selecting the various stacking pattern (pallet layouts) styles do? You know, the ones displayed after you press the Options button in the Shipcase Parameters dialog box (also the Unitload Parameters and Transit Vehicle Parameters dialog boxes).
  24. How is RSC board area calculated?
  25. How does the program estimate the weight of my box?
  26. How do I calculate Stacking Strength?
  27. How do I insert pads between layers, or add caps to a pallet pattern?
  28. How do I use the modify feature to create alternate pallet patterns?
  29. How do I print a list of shipcases or pallets I have saved in TOPS Pro?
  30. Can TOPS optimize a pallet with mixed-size cartons?
  31. I only need an application to optimize pallet configuration only, does TOPS offer a lite version?
  32. How do I login as Supervisor?
  33. How do I change the defaults in TOPS Pro?
  34. What are the abbreviations for the Print Defaults in the TOPS Configuration program?
  35. How do I insert my company logo into the Package Profile?
  36. How do I turn on user passwords?
  37. How do I replace the TOPS logo with my company logo?
  38. Where can I enter the dimension of the primary pack when I use C.A.S.Y. (create-a-shape-yourself)?
  39. What are the TOPS Pro Command Line Parameters?

Answers

1.How is stand-alone license different from the network license? We expect to have 3 users for TOPS, what type of license configuration should I get?

A stand alone license can only be loaded onto 1 computer and can be used by only 1 user at a time. A network license is loaded onto a server, but can be loaded onto as many clients as you desire. The number of network seats purchased will dictate how many users can run TOPS at one time. For example if you have installed TOPS on 5 client machines, but only have a 2 user network, only 2 users would be allowed to use TOPS concurrently.

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2.Can I install TOPS on a Citrix server or use terminal server? What requirements are there and what steps should I take?

Yes, for a single Citrix (or any RDP software) you would install TOPS directly to the server, like a standalone, yet still get a network license that can be shared. Now just grant permissions to users and publish the TOPS shortcut to your remote users. 2. If this is a server farm, you will need to have a single back end server, then make each front end RDP server a client just like you would in a LAN situation, and publish shortcuts from the front end servers to the remote clients.

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3.Where are the TOPS data saved? Can I access them outside the TOPS application?

TOPS Data is stored in a database under the TOPS Pro\Data folder. If you want to access this data outside the database, it would first need to be exported.

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4.What special steps should I take to move the TOPS Pro software to a different machine?

You will need to use the CD to install to the new machine, then call TOPS to get a new e-license. Once the new install is functional, we can copy and paste the old Data to the new computer. However, if it is an upgrade, you must export the old data and import into the new version.

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5.I'm trying to remove all the TOPS Pro files after uninstalling. What do I need to delete?

Other than the files in the TOPS Pro directory and its subdirectories, TOPS Pro makes the following adjustments to your system:
1. It creates a TOPSPRO.INI file in the local Windows directory
2. It creates the icons/shortcuts used to start the program
3. C:\program files\topsapps\topspro may need deleting as well

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6.When I try to run TOPS Pro, I get an error message saying, "Maximum of 1 user(s) already logged in." But I know that no one else is using the program. What's going on?

This message most often occurs when someone has logged into TOPS Pro and had an unexpected exit like a crash or lost network connection. Because the user was not gracefully logged out, TOPS Pro thinks the user is still logged in. If someone attempts to login as the same person, TOPS Pro will warn them with the message, "User already logged in. Replace?" Answer Yes to log that person off the system and allow the new user to login.
If you login as someone other than the user who crashed out, TOPS Pro issues the message, "Maximum of N users already logged in.” The "N" value is normally one unless you've purchased additional user licenses. You can get around this message with one of two options: (1) Login as the same person that crashed, then log him or her out, or (2) Login as supervisor in the TOPS Pro Config program, open the File Menu and Select User List to Logout any extra user (s).

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7.I can't find yesterday's work. What happened to it?

You've probably logged in with a user name other than one you used when you saved the analyses. Each user's analyses are only visible to him or her and to someone logged in as Supervisor. If you login in as Supervisor, open the File menu and select Open, you can see everyone's work with their name after it. For more information, please refer to Login/Logout as a Supervisor.

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8.Is there a way to transfer complete files/analyses from one user to another?

Sure, go to Export, Export Analysis, and then you can use Ctrl or shift to highlight multiple analysis, if desired, and export them as a .txt file that can easily be emailed to other TOPS users and imported through Import, Import TOPS Data.

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9.How do I tell what version of TOPS Pro I have and its serial number?

Login to TOPS as any user and go to Help and About. At the top it should indicate your software version. The serial number information is also displayed here.

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10.How do I create PDF documents?

Once you have created an analysis, you can go to File, Print Preview, setup the desired parameters and then go to Export, PDF. This should send the print job to the TOPS PDF Writer and generate a PDF.

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11.Can I use the TOPS data with MS Word or Excel?

If you open TOPS exported data (tops_data.txt for example) as a comma separated value file in Excel, or change the file extension from .txt to .csv and double click, it should open in Excel in nice neat rows and columns.

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12.Is TOPS compatible with Artios CAD? Is it possible to import cartons designed with Artios into TOPS?

Yes, TOPS and Artios have had about a decade long relationship. You can design a new box in Artios and export it to TOPS where it is imported and will appear in the TOPS shipcase database.

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13.I would like to use TOPS 3D output in a report, what is the best way to get a high quality output?

In TOPS, the 3D graphics images can be saved as a bitmap or vector file. The vector file can be scaled to any dimension without losing resolution. To save the graphics as vector, go to Edit>Copy to Clipboard or use the Export>WMF command to save file as a Windows Meta File.

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14.Can I have the program print fractions instead of decimals?

Starting with TOPS Pro Version 2.1, you can use fractional output. Follow these instructions:
1. Open the Tools Menu and select Configuration.
2. Click on the Fractions button.
3. Use the checkboxes to adjust the points at which you would like the program to operate in fractional mode.
All fractions will be to the nearest 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32 and 1/64. Note that this will only change the output and display of a value. The numbers that are stored and manipulated are the actual decimal values – not their "nearest fractional" equivalents.
Hint: Even when not in fractional mode, the program will accept fractional input and convert the value to its exact decimal equivalent, just as if you had typed in the decimal value in the first place. Simply hit the spacebar – or the decimal point – and type the fraction after the whole-number portion of the number. That is, the value 4 1/8 and 4.1/8 becomes 4.125 after leaving the field. However, values imported from external sources must be in decimal form for TOPS Pro, load plan software, to recognize them.

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15.How do I change the number of decimals for my results?

Follow these instructions: 1. Open the Tools Menu and Select Configuration. 2. Click on the Decimals button. 3. Change the appropriate numbers.
Note: Adjustments to these values only change the output and display of the numbers. The numbers stored and manipulated are their actual decimal values – not the "rounded" display equivalents.

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16.Is it possible to display both English/Metric dimensions in the output?

You can choose English or Metric before setting up the design sequence by selecting the radio button under Tools, Configuration. Additionally, in each stage of the design, you can toggle between English and Metric values. Finally before printing you have another option to see the printout in English or Metric.

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17.How do I change the language I see in TOPS?

The TOPS Pro load planning software now comes in several languages, including English, Japanese, Spanish, Finnish, French, Portuguese, Chinese and German. In addition, each language is fully configurable, so if you do not like the text that you see, you are free to change it. The Text Modification dialog box allows you to perform language editing. Use these guidelines:
1. To choose a language, open the Tools menu and select Language.
2. To change individual strings, open the Tools menu, select Language, then select Edit.
3. Locate the string you want to change and then put in your desired text under the New String field.

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18.The lines on TOPS Pro's reports are too fine. When I fax the reports, the lines are so narrow they almost disappear and have gaps. How do I fix this?

1. Open the Tools menu and select Configuration.
2. Make Pen Width non-zero; larger numbers indicate thicker lines.
This only affects printed output. The Print Preview and other on-screen drawings will still appear with normal (one-dot width) lines.

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19.How do I change the colors of the cartons, shipcases, etc.? When I print in color, some colors are so dark they print nearly black.

To select color, open the Tools menu and select Color Selection. Color changes are specific to each user name, not each analysis.

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20.Can I define my own dividers and box styles?

You can define your own box styles, dividers and pallets from the Define menu options. Also, in the TOPS Configuration program, the Define menu provides a wider range of things you can define, such as papers, board combinations, flutes and environmental factors. Any and all data that can influence box compression or box strength results is fully configurable.

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21.What is "pitch?"

Ever tried to stack cups? Some cups will stack very closely together; others will barely fit into one another. Pitch is the distance by which a cup sticks out from the cup underneath it. The more it sticks out, the greater the pitch. A pitch of zero assumes that the tubs/buckets are not nested at all.

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22.What is Secondary Pallet Pattern and how do I use it?

The "secondary pattern" is used to create mixed pallets. These are non-homogenous (alternating layer) pallet patterns in which some of the layers may be "borrowed" from other pallet patterns. To use this feature:
1. Find a non-multi-dimensional pallet pattern to use as a secondary pattern.
2. Open the Edit menu and choose Select as Secondary Pattern.
3. Now view another solution from the solution list.
4. Open the Edit menu, select Layer Parameters, then select which layer(s) you want to use the Secondary Pattern.
5. As you scroll through the other non-multi-dimensional pallet patterns, you'll see a mixture of pallet layers. Note that the statistics will not be accurate for alternating layer unitloads, but will reflect the original unitload before mixing the layers.

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23.What does selecting the various stacking pattern (pallet layouts) styles do? You know, the ones displayed after you press the Options button in the Shipcase Parameters dialog box (also the Unitload Parameters and Transit Vehicle Parameters dialog boxes).

The pattern style checkboxes determine what arrangements TOPS Pro will attempt to use when placing your carton/shipcase/ pallet into its respective shipcase/pallet/vehicle. Depending on your situation, you may choose to check additional patterns to attempt to get a tighter load. You may uncheck some patterns because you want simpler patterns; e.g., perhaps your stacking machine can handle only simple 1-block patterns.

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24.How is RSC board area calculated?

(2L + 2W) (W + H)

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25.How does the program estimate the weight of my box?

TOPS Pro estimates the weight of a newly designed carton/case or a packed carton/case as follows:
For Cartons: {((Length*Width*2) + (Length*Height*2)) + (Width*Height*2))/144} * {(Caliper/.024*100)/1000}
For Shippers or Intermediate Packs: {((Length*Width*2) + (Length*Height*2)) + (Width*Height*2))/144} * {(Caliper /.018*100)/1000}
For Corrugated cases: {((Length*Width*2) + (Length*Height*2)) + (Width*Height*2))/144} * {(LBSper1000ft2) / 1000}

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26.How do I calculate Stacking Strength?

TOPS Pro uses the McKee Formula to do compression analysis. The McKee formula uses three laboratory tests performed on board components – the edge crush test (ECT), ring crush test (RCT), and/or kellicut to derive compression strength. First, create your analysis in TOPS Pro, and then calculate it. Make sure to have the weight entered in for shipcase. Next, go to the Tools/Stacking Strength menu. From there, enter your factors into the screen, then click OK to view the stacking strength results.

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27.How do I insert pads between layers, or add caps to a pallet pattern?

After you have calculated a pallet load, click on the Unitload window to highlight it. Next, go to the Edit/Layer Parameters menu. Here add what you like to your layers or pallet patterns.

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28.How do I use the modify feature to create alternate pallet patterns?

Before you use pallet pattern editor, i.e. the Modify feature, we suggest you turn off the Layer Rotation feature.
1. From the Edit menu, select Layer Parameters, the Layer Parameters dialog box appears.
2. Look at the Rotate column and delete any check marks you see.
3. Click on OK to close the Layer Parameters dialog box.

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29.How do I print a list of shipcases or pallets I have saved in TOPS Pro?

You can print databases from TOPS Pro, packaging and shipping software. Go to the File/Print Databases menu and select Shipcases, Pallets or other databases, such as Cartons, Products, Vehicles (railcar, sea vans, trucks), etc.

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30.Can TOPS optimize a pallet with mixed-size cartons?

No, TOPS is geared for single SKU optimization only. We have another product, MaxLoad, for mixing items, say at a warehouse or distribution level. However, we do include a module in TOPS called the MixPro Mixed Pallet Editor, where you can select and load mixed SKU loads manually.

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31.I only need an application to optimize pallet configuration only, does TOPS offer a lite version?

TOPS has 2 ‘Lite’ versions. One is designed to size new shipcases. You can dictate the number of items going into a shipcase and PackStak can tell you how large the shipcase should be to accommodate those goods. LoadStak is the other TOPS ‘Lite’ version, and it specifically is designed for fixed shipcases to be loaded to pallets to determine UL sizes.

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32.How do I login as Supervisor?

In TOPS Pro, the Supervisor user has the rights to delete users, see all analysis files and other handy things. To login as a Supervisor, follow these instructions:
1. Login as any user.
2. Open the Supervisor menu and select the Login\Logout option.
3. At the Supervisor Login dialog box, enter the supervisor’s password (The default password is "tops software" case insensitive)

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33.How do I change the defaults in TOPS Pro?

Follow these instructions: 1. Login to the TOPS Pro Configuration program as the Supervisor. 2. Open the Configuration program as the supervisor. 3. Open the Configuration Menu and select Default. 4. Click on the radio button for print.
TOPS Pro displays the default printing arrangement and allows you to make adjustments. Use the single-letter abbreviations pictured below and be aware – capitalization matters.
Note: Use uppercase "N" (none) in an Area field to get an empty pane. The information to populate in these fields can be found here: http://topseng.com/Documents/TOPSPro/Print%20Defaults.pdf

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34.What are the abbreviations for the Print Defaults in the TOPS Configuration program?

1. Login to the TOPS Pro Configuration program as the Supervisor.
2. Open the Configuration program as the supervisor.
3. Open the Configuration Menu and select Default.
4. Click on the radio button for print.
TOPS Pro displays the default printing arrangement and allows you to make adjustments. Use the single-letter abbreviations pictured below and be aware – capitalization matters. Note: Use uppercase "N" (none) in an Area field to get an empty pane.

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35.How do I insert my company logo into the Package Profile?

1. Open the TOPSPRO.INI file from your Windows or WinNT folder.
2. Look for the line that reads "Logo path." 3. Change the path to point to the location of your BMP file (e.g., C:\temp\tops.bmp).

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36.How do I turn on user passwords?

1. Login to TOPS Pro Config.
2. Login as the Supervisor.
3. Open the Supervisor menu and select Global Configuration.
4. Select the User Passwords option when the Configuration dialog box appears.

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37.How do I replace the TOPS logo with my company logo?

Follow these instructions:
1. Open the TOPSPRO.INI file TOPS is using, either in your Windows or WinNT folder, or if you are specifying a different ini file, then open this one.
2. Look for the line that reads "Logo path."
3. Change the path to point to the location of your BMP file (e.g., C:\temp\tops.bmp).

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38.Where can I enter the dimension of the primary pack when I use C.A.S.Y. (create-a-shape-yourself)?

When designing the CASY item, there is a Cell Size that can be defined. This is a way to give the rough size of the item. When TOPS places a CASY item into a design sequence, it will wrap the CASY shape around whatever item you give it, and the size denoted in the design will be the actual size used.

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39.What are the TOPS Pro Command Line Parameters?

The following command line parameters work with TOPSPRO.EXE, CONFIG.EXE and VIEWER.EXE.
-DBPath="C:\APPS\TOPSPRO\DATA": Overrides any entries in the INI file.
-ini="C:\WINDOWS\TOPSPRO.INI": Use the specified INI file instead of the default TOPS.INI in the Windows Directory. Avoid sharing INI files.
-u "User Name": Automatically login under the name "User Name."
-a "Analysis Name": Bring up the specified analysis. Approved analyses are opened first (if there is one).
-print: Auto-print and exit. Used with –a.
-printcs: Auto-print package profile and exit. Used with –a.
-viewcs: Auto-view package profile. Used with -a.

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