Globalization and digital technologies are changing businesses, especially as companies look to find new ways to amplify growth and expand into new markets. To do this, companies must create efficiencies in their supply chains and be able to keep up with complex and ever-changing supply chain dynamics. So, the big questions are: How has labeling changed with digital transformation and the new global supply chain model and how can labeling solutions meet the needs of today’s enterprise businesses?
Businesses that leverage innovation and embrace change and run their supply chains in a collaborative-fashion are the ones that will succeed in this new landscape. As always, businesses must be able to achieve high levels of agility, consistency, control and transparency to prosper. This is why it’s critical to identify, understand and measure how labeling has a strategic impact on your supply chain and your company’s business growth. To get a pulse on the impact of labeling on today’s supply chain Loftware conducts an annual survey. Here’s what we found
Trend 1: The evolving definition of enterprise labeling
Labeling in today’s fast-paced global economy goes far beyond manufacturing, shipping, and simple barcode labels. Today’s enterprise labeling offers a wide range of capabilities and benefits, providing dynamic data, content, and artwork as well as the flexibility in labeling to meet all types of unique requirements in different industries and across global supply chains. As business demands continue to increase, companies are looking for enterprise labeling to become a central part of addressing new challenges that were addressed by adjacent yet separate solutions in the past. Companies are now seeing value in a holistic view of enterprise labeling as it converges with their requirements for complex workflow management, content management and artwork management.
Image source: Pixabay
Essential workflow & approval processes
As more stakeholders become involved in labeling and the importance of accuracy reaches new heights, workflow has become a vital component of enterprise labeling. Manual or disconnected workflow processes introduce additional cycle times and risk to the processes of reviewing and approving labels, content and artwork. Although our survey shows that as many as 82% of respondents are currently using workflows and approvals to monitor and control label changes, many of these processes are manual or not integrated directly within their enterprise labeling environment. Reducing cycle times on labels from months and weeks to days can represent a huge cost savings and increase agility when new products are introduced or major changes to labels are needed. Automating workflow within enterprise labeling is especially important for regulated industries such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food & beverage, consumer packaged goods, and chemicals, where validation, traceability and compliance are essential.
Critical content management
As the amount of content (data, translations, images, etc.) required for labeling and continues to increase, companies continue to struggle with the question of where that data should reside. Transactional and master data is most often sourced from enterprise resource management (ERP), warehouse managemenbt system (WMS), supply chain management (SCM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) applications but many other elements that are used specifically for labels and packaging do not reside in these systems. However, these elements still need to be managed, reviewed and made available in real time for when labels are being printed. Our survey shows that 50% of respondents are integrating their labeling with some type of content management application. However, many companies are still struggling with content that resides in separate repositories or file systems that are not integrated into their enterprise labeling applications. This can make managing, reviewing and ensuring the accuracy of content difficult and even risky.
Converge enterprise labeling & artwork management
It is becoming clear there are many common requirements between labeling and artwork management and companies are looking for enterprise labeling to address the combined needs. This includes the ability to manage content including images, artwork, warnings, translations and phrases. It also means managing workflow and dynamically printing both labels and packaging artwork. The evolution of color print technologies and the move from pre-printed content via print houses versus on-demand printing is another important consideration. The demand for color labels has 48% of respondents expecting color to be even more prevalent in three years. At the same time, more businesses are looking to print product packaging and marketing materials onsite that have been traditionally outsourced. An integrated, unified approach increases agility and optimizes costs for companies looking to deal with customer, product, regulatory and regional complexities that impact both labeling and artwork management.