manufacturing labeling

A new era for labeling in the manufacturing sector

Ken Moir Industry news Leave a Comment

In an increasingly connected world, where high-quality products must be delivered faster and to more markets, legacy approaches to labeling, with manual processes and disparate printing solutions simply don’t cut it. Labeling must be digitized, standardized and integrated with your manufacturing and logistics systems. Not only will this improve quality and responsiveness, it will also simultaneously reduce costs — and that’s a rare combination of benefits that manufacturers cannot afford to ignore.

When it comes to designing, managing and deploying labels, manufacturers face complex challenges. In most industries, each product’s labels need to be traceable, compliant and transparent – not just within country but also across borders. This leads to huge challenges with the sheer volumes of labels generated, all of which need to be consistent, from your company’s departments to your suppliers, customers and consumers. How can quality, accuracy and productivity be assured when there are so many stakeholders and so many label variations?

It remains common for each factory and distribution center to have its own labeling software alongside a host of different label printers. This can clearly lead to inconsistencies but the costs associated with managing and running such a disparate system can also be exorbitant.

Imagine if a customer requests a change to one of your shipment labels. With a decentralized system, inaccuracies can be common in such a scenario. Such inaccuracies lead to mislabeling and can also result in quality degradation, both of which can undermine your customer satisfaction and your brand, and increase the risk of non-compliance and delivery and shipping delays.

Moreover, having to use highly-paid employees to change your label templates, especially when printer command scripting is required, is both time-consuming and expensive.With multiple labeling processes and systems across your organization, further latency and costs are introduced.

Digitalizing labeling

Digitally transforming your labeling offers a way to centralize and keep control of your labeling processes, regardless of location. It doesn’t matter if the labels are needed for the factory or your distribution center; they can be produced, changed or updated from a browser and accessed, whenever and wherever they are needed. The digital transformation of labeling enables companies to accurately print from a single source of truth for their labeling.

A modernized, centralized labeling system can enhance your agility and quality, reduce costs and promote better supply chain collaboration.

  • Improved agility:

Change requests and new label templates can be created to support new products and new customers without requiring a high level of expertise. A label management solution can digitize and automate processes,ensuring that even business users without advanced IT skills can design labels quickly.

  • Improved quality:

With a centralized solution, labels can be printed to a uniform standard — essential for maintaining compliance and brand consistency. Additionally, customers benefit from consistency in terms of formatting and quality.

Storing only one version of each template centrally ensures consistency and brings the added benefit of only needing to integrate with your MES or ERP solution once for master data – this means lower IT costand significantly reduced likelihood of human error. Added to this, security concerns can be addressed with multiple levels of role-based security.

  • Enhanced collaboration:

Centralized control allows you to be more collaborative with supply chain partners. As labels are easy-to-create and share, you can encourage suppliers to use a standardized format, shared through a cloud-based label management system. 

  • Cost reduction:

One-way centralizing labeling reduces costs is by eliminating the need for manual effort. Enterprises often have thousands of individual label files spread across their facilities, including many duplicates, to serve the same customer. Centralization eliminates duplicate files, saving costs associated with maintaining them, as well as reducing mislabeling and associated recalls which in and of themselves can be costly.

  • Streamlined quality assurance

Modern label management systems have effectively digitized the quality assurance process, removing manual quality control. This means there’s a reduced labor cost, less risk of error and changes can be made and approved more quickly.

Scoping the question

To determine if your organization could benefit from a centralized, digital label management system, it is useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often do we update labels as an organization and how much time is spent on this?
  • Do you need to ask IT to make changes?
  • How long do you have to wait for IT to make changes?
  • How much does IT charge for label change requests?
  • How effective is your quality assurance process?
  • How many people are involved in creating, updating and printing labels?
  • How many software applications do we use to produce these?
  • How often does mislabeling occur and what are the consequences?
  • Could we improve customer satisfaction or respond to compliance requirements more easily with a centralized solution?

While these questions will need to be tailored to your business, they provide a useful starting point when analyzing your current situation. To compete in an increasingly challenging environment, manufacturers must take advantage of new technologies to respond faster as well as reduce costs wherever possible. Improved agility, increased productivity and better quality management are just a few of the gains that manufacturers are experiencing by digitally transforming their labeling. Digitization of labeling can help manufacturers be more competitive and can introduce many benefits beyond what meets the eye at first sight.

Find out more about how your business can benefit from digitally transforming labeling. Visit our vision page.

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