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Siemens standardizes labeling with real-time cloud solution

Ken Moir Cloud computing, Industry news Leave a Comment

From demand variability to supply chain constraints, increased compliance, global competition and heightened customer expectations, manufacturers are increasingly looking to technology to reduce costs and standardize processes.

A key part of operations, the labeling process is often overlooked in the drive towards digitization. Yet, as an essential part of the supply chain process, digitized labeling offers significant potential to address common challenges such as mislabeling and inaccuracies, as well as the high costs associated with the use of disparate and fragmented software and printers.

A cloud solution enables organizations with even the most complex international operations to centralize and control the process more efficiently and cost-effectively, regardless of location. It allows labels to be produced,changed or updated from a web browser and accessed whenever or wherever required.

Equipped with a modernized, centralized, cloud-based labeling system, businesses frequently discover important benefits associated with real-time labeling, including improved security, compliance and traceability in label design, as well as increased agility, quality, and collaboration along the supply chain.

Challenging environment

Responsible for IT systems, infrastructure and architecture, Siemens’ Manufacturing Operations Service Delivery department’s overarching objective is to provide systems and services that perform in the most standardized and efficient way possible.

On-demand label printing in the international operation’s factories was a key area identified by the team as having the potential to benefit from standardization.However, its environment made this objective challenging, with multiple labeling solutions and a wide range of label and office printers at each factory creating a fragmented landscape.

The fact that Siemens needs to produce labels in multiple languages was also a challenge for label printing as existing solutions could not consistently handle Chinese characters; in some instances, designers had to transform them into pictures. Maintaining around 250 such images, as well as a variety of hard-coded layouts, put a heavy burden on the IT department, and in the event of a change request hundreds may have to be altered.

Unifying solution

To address the challenges of its complex environment and achieve the high level of standardization and flexibility it sought, Siemens implemented the NiceLabel label management system to integrate with its PLM, MES and ERP systems, creating a standardized label production and printing set-up for its Motion Control factories.

Deployed on a private Siemens Cloud, a single server hosts the NiceLabel document management system while a small number of others host the NiceLabel integration system.

All labels that connected to the bill of materials (BOM), such as product identification labels, are initially designed using Siemens’ CAD software, NXDesign and stored in Team center, Siemens’ PLM system. NX Design also creates an XML file that is imported into the NiceLabel label designer, with 70% of label design work completed before any design work is started in the NiceLabel designer. All non BOM-related labels are designed using the NiceLabel label designer, with its intuitive interface enabling business users to create and change labels without IT assistance and deploy label templates across factories.

With the introduction of universal label templates that can be printed from any business system, the addition of the NiceLabel solution has meant Siemens now maintains fewer template variations, processes fewer change requests and enjoys improved label consistency and compliance, while integration with other business systems improved productivity.

Speed too has been a major benefit; under the legacy integration, labels could take eight seconds to print – this is now down to just 300 milliseconds. Free from the burden of supporting multiple printers, applying business rules and logic using the label management system’s Automation module has enabled the Service Delivery group to maximize the speed of implementation, while minimizing deployment costs.

Global possibilities

Initially deployed as a pilot, the scalability of the NiceLabel solution saw it incorporated as the key component of a labeling-as-a-service solution androlled out across six countries, with further expansion in the pipeline.

Identified as a digital lighthouse service by Siemens Production and Logistics Excellence group, what began as a solution to solve a local problem has since been re-architected, scaled and packaged as a model service, bringing standardization to label production and printing across Siemens’ vast manufacturing operations,unlocking time and cost-saving business efficiencies and offering significant potential for deployment at a global level.Visit to read the Siemens case study and learn about the “digital future of manufacturing”.

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