For automotive suppliers and manufacturers, the landscape is one of increasing change, complexity, and competition. To survive in such a challenging and demanding environment, it's necessary for companies to rethink their labeling strategy. Continuing to rely on manual approaches and piecemeal solutions will no longer work. Choosing the correct solution is a critical part to reaping potential rewards.
The first thing to look for in an enterprise labeling solution is the ability to handle large scale global deployments, both in terms of the inherent complexities (plant to plant, country to country requirements) and in terms of sheer product volume. Handling large scale global deployments requires the ability to connect to and integrate with the correct source(s) of data, and the ability to flexibly respond to customer requirements and adapt to regulatory changes. Keeping up with manufacturing volume is very import. It should never be the case that labeling is what's slowing down production.
Specific capabilities to look for include label formatting and content that can be changed dynamically to support myriad different label combinations with a minimum number of label designs. With this capability, a wide range of regional, language, customer, and regulatory requirements can be modified as needed, while enabling the automatic routing of print requests.
An enterprise labeling solution should also enable users to easily configure business rules to redefine labeling to support the new requirements. The ability to manage configurable business rules logic enables customers to readily meet requirements stemming from multiple regulations, languages, images, formats, and printers, and to manage (from one place) variability across multiple industries and regions.
Automating these complex workflow processes removes a significant burden and expense from IT, eliminating the need to maintain custom code or manage a staggering number of label designs. With an enterprise labeling solution, changes and updates required to meet critical compliance requirements should be able to be taken care of in hours or days rather than months.
Essential functionality for an enterprise labeling solution also includes certified integration capabilities to allow companies to automate their labeling process, directly leverage sources of truth for label data, and avoid mislabeling issues which cost businesses time and money. Widely deployed enterprise applications – SAP, Oracle, and others – are considered "a single source of truth." If these systems are leveraged to drive label data and printing, the error-prone practice of manual or redundant data entry is eliminated.
Keeping customers happy with timely labeling changes to meet their requirements supports retention and can definitely lead to both short-term savings and long-term profitable growth.
A final element to keep in mind when evaluating an enterprise labeling solution is that it's not just about the software solution. An enterprise labeling provider must be able to provide 24/7 support, implementation services, and best practices advice. Labeling is a business-critical operation, and turnkey, off-the-shelf solutions may not be robust enough to meet your labeling needs.
What's required is an enterprise labeling solution that's global, standardized, and responsive to change. As the number of automotive suppliers that vehicle manufacturers work with narrows, those that will be on the winning side will be the ones that recognize that labeling is a critical element of the supply process, and choose the right enterprise labeling solution to manage it.