Change: The Manufacturing Rule, Rather Than the Exception

Change has always been a reality, but there is a revolution brewing in manufacturing, stemming from the new technologies such as robotics, internet of things (IoT), and 3D printing that are poised to influence rapid changes in many aspects of manufacturing and the global supply chain, especially labeling practices.

A recent Gartner report said:

Recent technology developments like the Internet of Things and 3D printing are redefining digital manufacturing. New emphasis on speed, productivity and sustainability provide strategists opportunities to innovate the role of production in the value chain. This creates new revenue opportunities and changes the competitive landscape. Few companies are prepared to sustain this shift.

New technologies, therefore, are beginning to influence how business is conducted throughout the global supply chain and demand the agility to deal with all the nuances of today's correspondingly complex labeling requirements. Labeling solutions that can flexibly support high levels of manufacturing variability, productivity, and sustainability are a powerful stabilizer against the winds of change. The ability to maintain high performance and flexibility without requiring extensive coding or customization is critical, and Enterprise Labeling Solutions are the intelligent way to accommodate these manu­facturing trends within the “new” supply chain.

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization , writes about the need to understand “dynamic complexity” in crafting plans to meet rapid changes in this way:

Unfortunately, most systems analyses focus on detail complexity, not dynamic complexity. Simulations with thousands of variables and complex arrays of details can actually distract us from seeing patterns and major interrelationships. In fact, sadly, for most people “systems thinking” means “fighting complexity with complexity,” devising increasingly “complex” (we should really say “detailed”) solutions to increasingly “complex” problems. In fact, this is the antithesis of real systems thinking.

With labeling playing such a critical role in the global supply chain, manufacturers need to develop a “systems thinking” approach and implement labeling solutions that can dynamically manage abrupt and unforeseen changes. The price of unpreparedness includes additional labor costs, time losses, customer fines and penalties, and disappearing market share. Patching up labeling gaps with short-term fixes will only create more chaos in the supply chain. In answer to this dilemma, Enterprise labeling solutions are designed with the capability to manage label changes with a “systems think­ing” approach, in which needed changes can proliferate swiftly, in a standardized format, throughout the supply chain.

Manufacturers are not always able to predict the future, but a flexible enterprise labeling solution can accommodate many changes quickly and efficiently, even when those changes are unforeseen. Whether in the face of an environmental crisis, recalls, or other technological innovations that swiftly take hold and challenge the status quo, enterprise labeling solutions have built-in flexibility made to manage change that can help manufacturers protect themselves against the unknown.

Let us know how emerging technologies are affecting your supply chain and how your organization is dealing with those shifts in the comments section below.

Editor's Note:

Greg Graham, manufacturing industry specialist (Southern Region), Loftware, and Justin Ward, manufacturing industry specialist (Northern Region), Loftware, were additional authors on this blog.

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