The world of food and beverage (F&B) manufacturing is under pressure. Companies have to produce goods faster and cheaper, without compromising on quality. At the same time, they must comply with an increasing amount of international, national and local regulations. To compete in this challenging marketplace, food and beverage manufacturers need to embrace digital transformation. By digitally transforming their manufacturing processes, F&B companies can take advantage of productivity gains, reduce costs, avoid errors and improve their time-to-market.
A key example of how digital transformation can benefit F&B manufacturers can be seen in the improvements possible by digitizing the label production and printing process. We recently hosted a webinar that highlighted the business gains an international dairy manufacturer achieved by digitally transforming their labeling. The lessons learned from this manufacturer clearly illustrate the tremendous business opportunity manufacturers can take advantage of by transforming their labeling.
A fragmented landscape hampers efficiency
Pre-transformation, the dairy manufacturer experienced challenges that many F&B companies might be able to recognize as typical when an organization grows by mergers and acquisitions. The dairy manufacturer had to cope with a fragmented environment with multiple solutions from direct marking and labeling vendors, “Silos were popping up all across the organization,” stated Janez Sodja, Enterprise Business Manager with NiceLabel. “Non-standardized solutions resulted in costly IT support to build, maintain, change or upgrade these solutions. It was a nightmare because everything was custom-made.”
Standalone systems increase risk and prevent agility
As the IT organization was primarily focused on “keeping the light on”, keeping all of these homegrown, standalone applications running, they were unable to focus on strategic IT projects that could have given the manufacturer a competitive advantage. Janez highlighted a key challenge that many manufacturers face when they’re dependent on the IT department to process changes to label templates. “The business’ reliance on IT means any downtime or service degradation, even in connection with a cosmetic incident, would still mean that the labels cannot be printed. This has a significant business impact, mostly because it’s unplanned. Local solutions also mean harder troubleshooting and longer resolution times. Each minute of downtime costs on the bottom line.” The message is clear. Without automation and connecting to the single source of data, manual data entry and standalone systems increase risk for the entire organization.
Digitally transforming to ensure zero downtime
This dairy manufacturer recognized that their current situation wasn’t sustainable. They wanted to have a global labeling system that would be their competitive advantage. As Janez explained, “In the world of food and beverage manufacturing, not producing or not printing labels means that products stay in the factory and don’t appear on the shelves in the retailer. There are other suppliers waiting in the wings to take your place on the shelves, so losing shelf space means lost profit.” Unplanned downtime is simply a risk food and beverage manufacturers can’t afford. To remedy this situation, the dairy manufacturer needed to digitize their labeling. They engaged with NiceLabel to realize their goals of substantially reducing complexity by introducing a standardized solution across the company and implementing a service culture with zero tolerance for downtime. By rolling out a standardized solution, the manufacturer could reallocate third-party IT costs to focus on projects which supported the business needs.
One platform – one standardized approach to labeling
Digital transformation enables food and beverage manufacturers to standardize and automate label production, unifying labeling and marking on one platform, with one ERP and one MES. By using one system, F&Bs can eliminate the need for local IT development and support. One of the key advantages this dairy manufacturer gained by working with NiceLabel’s label management system, was that they were able to unite all of their printers, including label, direct marking and continuous inkjet printers, on one platform.
The key to a more agile manufacturing operation
What are the benefits of this approach? By digitally transforming labeling, F&Bs can minimize revenue loss due to rejected product and label errors. They free up IT resources, increasing agility by reducing the reliance on IT and empowering business users. F&Bs experience less downtime due to utilizing a standardized solution, and they attain a new level of quality assurance. As Janez put it, “You’re able to do more with the system because you trust it. You know it’s connected to a single source of truth, so that means less double checks and manual quality control. The result is a more agile business and ultimately a faster time-to-market.” And in the competitive world of food and beverage, faster time-to-market translates into competitive advantage.