A Shifting Manufacturing Landscape – What does it mean for Labeling?

Susan Gosnell Cloud computing, Industry news

Recent global events have brought yet another period of significant change to manufacturing and made way for unprecedented challenges in the industry. Forced shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, and employee layoffs have given way to labor shortages, a lack of raw materials, and ocean port congestion among other things.

Quick responses to consumer demand and global trends are key. Regardless of whether manufacturers need to “reset” in response recent challenges or have to prepare for potential crises in the future, the pressure is on them to operate more efficiently; keep costs down and quality up; and improve their resilience in the face of an unpredictable world.

Let’s zoom in on large-scale trends in manufacturing and examine the impact they are having on labeling, as well as how a cloud-based Enterprise Labeling system can help organizations streamline design, optimize their workflow processes, and effectively manage their labeling requirements for any business condition.

Pick up and go as needed

The manufacturing sector is looking at present challenges and doing its best to future-proof against obstacles down the line. One example is the reversal of a trend that has spanned the past two decades, in which manufacturing was moved overseas to countries like China, which have dominated manufacturing by offering low labor costs and attractive shipping lanes. But due to a combination of recent changes including rising labor costs, geopolitical tension, and notably recent supply chain disruptions, manufacturers are changing course.

Companies have also been finding themselves running multiple production facilities, quality control departments, shipping operations, and other critical departments in various locations. In the face of massive global supply chain issues, however, many are rethinking their global production approaches. In some cases, American companies are moving operations back to the U.S. (“reshoring”) or to countries that are closer to the U.S. (“near-shoring”), in order to contain the effects of supply chain problems.

This means that companies need to be able to set up, start operating, and then leave a site if that becomes necessary. In terms of labeling approaches, this means that manufacturers do best with flexible, agile processes that are integrated with their other applications and can adapt to big moves and adjustments.

Respond to regulatory changes and customer demand

Geopolitical forces also have manufacturers on their toes. Major shifts like Brexit have created new regulatory challenges that manufacturers must fully understand  in order to respond to customer demand. Packaging, regulatory stamping, and the cross-border shipment process are all different now for U.S. companies shipping to or working in the U.K., putting pressure directly on manufacturers to do the navigating.

Organizations that cannot produce the correct labels to ship goods for the target location can only watch idly while opportunities go unseized. The issue is that many businesses still leave labeling largely up to chance by patching together disparate software solutions in hopes they will meet the organizations’ growing labeling needs. But over time, these patchworks bring high maintenance costs, data-errors, and non-compliance.

Take for instance the case of a Texas city that had to change its laws in 2020 to allow toilet paper produced in Mexico (with Spanish language labeling) to be sold in stores. Had it not, the toilet paper would have been stuck in the manufacturer’s fulfilment center. A happy ending in this case, but a company should have the means to respond to consumer demand, well, faster than a city government.

Labeling Best Practices for Manufacturers

The common factor between these trends is a need for flexibility in a labeling solution. Manufacturing firms have to be able to change and adjust on the fly. Without the right technology to facilitate those adjustments, they risk losing money, productivity, efficiency, and market share.

With a cloud-based Enterprise Labeling solution in place, manufacturers can create a labeling ecosystem that extends across all their operations, addresses regulatory nuances, offers visibility and strict control, and streamlines the end-to-end labeling process.  Companies can eliminate the patchwork of on-premises systems that have been built up over time and feel confident responding to current challenges as well as any that the future might bring.

Learn more about key trends in manufacturing and about how some of Loftware‘s customers have used labeling best practices to maintain an efficient, cost-effective flow of goods throughout the supply chain in a fast and frictionless manner. All in our report, right here.

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