As global competition for new markets grows, manufacturers are looking for better ways to keep their customers satisfied and “lock in” a closer customer relationship. Changes to labels are often being driven by customer-specific requirements, and labeling requirements are more demanding and variable today than ever. Failing to meet requirements in a timely fashion can result in dissatisfied customers who may turn to competitors. Viewing labeling as a key enabler in customer responsiveness provides increased opportunities to better serve an organization's client base and drive revenue.
Manufacturers today need to manage variability across multiple customer segments and regions to meet the rigors of the customers' global requirements, including variability in languages, images, formats, and printers. Traditionally, developing customer specific labels has required the creation of custom labels with custom logic that needs to be developed and maintained. But in many cases, customers' compliance standards change over time, putting further strain on a business's IT resources needed to react to these changes. Implementing a flexible labeling solution means that as customer needs change, manufacturers can more easily and quickly accommodate those requests with minimal delay and disruption to business processes.
For example, General Motors updates its customer requirements frequently. Their communiqué, titled GM Customer Specifics – ISO/TS 16949, Effective January, 2015, Including GM Specific Instructions for PPAP 4th Ed.(see Section 5), is a 34-page document outlining many requirements, including labeling. This detailed guide of instructions includes “18.104.22.168 Shipping Parts Identification Label Standard, (GM 1724),” other requirements for continuous improvement, and many other stipulations. To work with a large global customer such as GM, Walmart or Target, very specific guidelines for suppliers of manufactured products are often modified and updated as in this GM example, which is a revision from November of 2014, just two months prior. Suppliers may be asked to modify labeling at any time, too, depending on market needs, trends, or in response to other special circumstances impacting the customer.
With an Enterprise Labeling system, business users can also be securely enabled to take ownership of the design process when necessary, which means reducing the need for costly and scarce IT resources. The ability to respond quickly, accurately, and efficiently to customer requests and requirements is decidedly a competitive advantage, and Enterprise Labeling is particularly architected to achieve this aim.
Greg Graham, manufacturing industry specialist (Southern Region), Loftware, and Justin Ward, manufacturing industry specialist (Northern Region), Loftware, were additional authors on this blog.