Accurate, High-Volume Labeling - Warming to the Task: Case Study

Thermal Management Provider Integrates Labeling with Software to Improve Supply Chain Performance

Since 1916, Modine Manufacturing Company has provided thermal management solutions for a wide variety of applications and markets that include automotive, industrial power and HVAC. Headquartered in Racine, Wisconsin, the company’s 11,200 employees work in operations that span the globe.modineimage

Modine prides itself on being a customer-focused company delivering exceptional quality, innovation and value. Key to its success are the three SAP systems that help manage the company’s complex logistics. A North American system supports 1,400 users in the Americas. A second system, hosted in Germany, supports 1,500 users throughout Europe and Asia-Pacific. The third instance, which became part of the Modine family through a recent acquisition, is used by an additional 300 employees.

Labeling is essential to meet customer demand. More specifically, labels are needed to support SAP’s Materials Management and Warehouse Management (goods receipt and warehouse labels); Production Planning (packing and line sequencing labels); and Sales and Distribution (customer shipping) modules. Across Modine’s full SAP landscape, about 1000 barcode labels are required each month. Modine needed to ensure that it could leverage its SAP implementation to streamline and improve its labeling process.

CHALLENGES:

ENSURE LABELING ACCURACY AND CONSISTENCY

In the face of intense global competition, no manufacturing business can afford the costly delays and disruptions due to labeling errors. Modine had long recognized that a centralized approach was necessary to ensure labeling consistency. But a centralized strategy, while necessary, could not on its own guarantee accuracy. When the data in a labeling solution is replicated from other sources, there are risks that errors will be introduced or that the data being used is not the most up-to-date information available. Modine needed a labeling solution that could leverage its trusted source of data: SAP.

SIMPLIFY LABEL CREATION

The intense time-pressures of today’s supply chain mean that label design must be done quickly and efficiently, without requiring complicated coding efforts or support from IT. When Modine deployed SAP, they identified special requirements that must be met for producing barcode labels: it had to be simple for users, with an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that more accurately depicted what was being printed. The previous system required considerable manipulation from the design stage to final output. It lacked a WYSIWYG capability, presenting a tremendous challenge to business end users. As a result of the complexity of the labeling tool, there was a significant burden placed on IT.

SATISFY INCREASING CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS

Modine must meet a wide and growing range of customer- specific label requirements, and Modine customers often make special requests for information to be incorporated on HVAC, refrigeration, and other equipment. Automotive is one of Modine’s principal markets, and more and more automotive industry customers are demanding data from EDI sources, or information that ties to physical shipments, such as keeping the numbers on palettes in sync with the data on labels.

COMPLY WITH INDUSTRY STANDARDS AND REGULATION

Many industries have exacting standards and regulations that much be met, and automotive is a good example of the demands that are placed on labeling. The automotive supply chain is complex: global in scope and demanding in scale. Accurate labeling is necessary for the efficient flow of information, for the transit of parts across international borders, and to provide vendors throughout the supply chain with visibility into the system. There are a number of automotive-related labeling requirements that Modine must meet, including those established by Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG); Verband der Deutschen Automobilindustrie (VDA); and the Organization for Data Exchange by Tele Transmission in Europe (ODETTE).

SOLUTIONS:

Loftware’s Enterprise Labeling Solution – with the SAP Connector for certified integration with SAP – helps Modine meet these and other labeling challenges throughout their supply chain.

INTEGRATE LABELING WITH SOURCES OF TRUTH

Loftware’s enterprise-wide approach allows Modine to integrate labeling with its existing SAP platforms to trigger and execute labels. This eliminates the need to manually replicate data from one system to the next and, more importantly, ensures end-to-end label accuracy. Further, if there are other systems and repositories that provide key data, Loftware can incorporate this data via web services or event-based integration. Modine benefits from standardized, automated labeling that draws from vital data sources, protecting existing investments and ultimately saving time and money, while also avoiding mislabeling issues.

DESIGN WITH BUSINESS IN MIND

By leveraging the powerful, intuitive design capabilities of the Loftware solution, Modine is able to decrease the burden on IT and respond more quickly to changing customer demands. Secure access to an easy-to-use WYSIWYG interface enables less technical, more business-focused users to format labels and support myriad label combinations. Advanced design features allow Modine to support a wide variety of options— graphics, languages, various symbologies—letting them easily meet customer, regional, and regulatory requirements. Key users are easily able to do this on their own, as there’s no need for Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) in SAP. And label printing is triggered directly from SAP, so users aren’t forced to learn a new application or process.

CONTROL THE LABEL CREATION AND UPDATING PROCESS

Loftware provides a full change management process for label design and creation, which mirrors the SAP process. Labels are designed in a test environment, then sent to Quality Assurance, where the appropriate administrators oversee the process through which labels are promoted to production. This enables Modine to dovetail output management into their overall release management processes.

SCALE LABEL PRINTING WITHOUT LOOKING BACK

Loftware supports all major printer vendors, including unique printer features such as temperature settings for the printer head and label retract options. In addition, only Loftware provides native drivers for such a wide range of printer makes and models. This ensures rapid, high-volume printing without bogging down the network. Modine can operate in mixed-printer environments as needed and, if they switch to a new hardware manufacturer, they will be able to seamlessly continue label printing without a “big bang” migration.

RESULTS:

Loftware provides Modine a flexible, scalable labeling solution that greatly simplifies a complex process, while improving supply chain efficiency and label quality Leveraging certified integration within its SAP platform, Modine is able to centrally manage and control labeling to keep up with increasing demands, greatly reducing the number of templates used across its global operation and improving the consistency and professionalism of its labels. And by empowering business users to update labels quickly and easily, Modine lessens the dependency on IT, freeing up technical resources to focus on other high-priority projects.

Because of its success in using Loftware with SAP’s Materials and Warehouse Management, Production Planning, and Sales and Distribution modules, Modine is now exploring integrating Loftware within its MES and laboratory environments as well.

ACCURATE LABELING, ENTERPRISE-WIDE

First and foremost, Loftware enables Modine to leverage SAP as the “system of record”, integrating labeling with existing business processes already relied on by the company. Any changes to the SAP data are automatically captured in the label data ensuring accuracy and consistency.

FULL CONTROL, FULL REDUNDANCY

By managing the labeling process at headquarters, Modine gains greater visibility and control of how plants are using templates to quickly resolve any issues.

IMPROVING CUSTOMER RESPONSIVENESS

In the face of customer requirements, Modine has the labeling solution to respond quickly. One example: in the automotive industry, Modine customers are increasingly demanding that data from EDI sources align with physical shipment information. With Loftware, Modine has an integrated process to keep data in synch, and manage this and other customer requests without significant rework.

“When you’re doing decentralized label printing, you need to have duplicate skill sets in each location. Plus you end up with inconsistencies: labels that don’t look professional and may not comply with requirements. With Loftware, we’ve become more efficient, and we’re producing higher quality labels.” - Eric Richmond, Director of ERP Applications, Modine Manufacturing

COMPLIANCE WITH CONFIDENCE

Today’s manufacturing world is increasingly regulated, with governmental and industry-specific standards continually emerging. Enterprise labeling helps Modine quickly respond to new requirements. And end-to-end, data-driven labeling helps enable the precise tracking and tracing of product across Modine’s global supply chain in the event of a recall or update.

EMPOWERING BUSINESS USERS

The advanced design and composition capabilities of the Loftware solution equip Modine’s key users with an easy- to-use WYSIWYG interface to update templates, add new fields and graphics, and more—without relying on IT or complex ABAP programming to make the change. With Loftware, Modine has found that most labels can be quickly integrated with SAP, taking less than 2 hours to go from reviewing customer requirements to getting the label through Quality Assurance.

About Loftware

Loftware, Inc. is the global market leader in Enterprise Labeling Solutions with more than 5,000 customers in over 100 countries. Offering the industry’s most comprehensive labeling solution, Loftware’s enterprise software integrates SAP®, Oracle® and other enterprise applications to produce mission-critical barcode labels, documents, and RFID Smart tags across the supply chain. 

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