Find Out Why Enterprise Labeling Matters
Labeling plays a critical role in every company’s supply chain and is part of today’s digital transformation. As business environments become more global and complex, companies need to look at labeling differently to keep pace with evolving technologies and to meet the demands of new multi-faceted, dynamic supply chains. Enterprise Labeling plays an important role in the digital transformation by creating new efficiencies both throughout the enterprise and within global supply chains by empowering companies to deal with the nuances of today’s complex labeling requirements and regulations.
Labels convey more and more critical information, such as product details, customer information, regulatory and safety information. As the number and variance of products proliferates, companies face difficulty staying competitive while still using legacy, homegrown, or disparate labeling solutions. An Enterprise Labeling approach can scale, flexibly adapt, and respond quickly to demands from customers and regulators to address the increasing complexity in labeling.
Complying with Evolving Regulations
Evolving standards and regulatory requirements pose many complex challenges for today’s business. Labeling regulations are an increasing concern across a broad set of industries including chemicals, food and beverage, medical device, pharmaceuticals and many others. These requirements, which have costly consequences for noncompliance, compel companies to be precise about labeling information displayed and languages used.
Labels must reflect how products are distributed through increasingly complex supply chains around the globe. The location where a product is made and where a product is shipped further complicates labeling and determines how compliance must be achieved as each country or
region has specific versions of regulatory requirements. For example, health and safety information must be in the language of the country where a product is made and in the language of where it is shipped. Also, depending on the product, there may be requirements for a compliance logo or colored pictograms. Companies risk hefty fines, disrupting business, and may even be kept from entering new markets if they don’t comply.
Enterprise Labeling allows companies to design labels that leverage business rules and dynamic labeling to support variations in formats, barcodes, logos, languages, and content quickly and easily. It can integrate to sources of regulatory data to make sure the needs of each customer is being met throughout each part of a company’s supply chain. This type of centralized label management ensures labeling consistency and that your company is adhering to regulatory guidelines throughout your company’s global supply chain.
Managing Complex Customer Requirements
Customer requirements are also evolving rapidly as the pace of business accelerates. Labeling needs to support countless variations to manage mass label changes easily, while including more and more information on those labels. And, customers want these complex requirements met faster than before.
An Enterprise Labeling approach means automating the labeling process and using business logic to deal with extensive label variations. With this strategy, business users can leverage the labeling solution to address any necessary changes without having to involve IT. Business leaders can deal directly with the customer to meet customer specific requirements in a timely and less intensive way, using fewer technical resources. They can dynamically manage regional, language and any customer specific requirements. Changes and updates can be made in hours rather than months so that deadlines can be met.
Centralization is really important in maximizing the value of this type of data- driven labeling. By centralizing labeling, labeling teams use a common set of label formats across an organization, configured to be dynamically driven by label content and data. This approach drastically reduces the number of label templates, while still accounting for region, language, product, and brand information, etc. – enabling companies to move from hard coding labels to a more flexible paradigm that enables the source data to drive what’s on the label.
Scaling Labeling to Meet Your Business Growth
As global companies continue to expand their presence internationally, they must consider how to efficiently deploy and maintain labeling solutions, so they can scale seamlessly. This is essential to handle the rigors of global infrastructures, allowing users to manage outages and connectivity issues, while maintaining continuous operations using high availability, failover and disaster recovery capabilities.
As companies grow, they frequently inherit labeling software that is unique to a particular location. These packaged or homegrown applications are often siloed from each other and a central headquarters, making managing labeling on a global basis difficult if not impossible. Since these different labeling solutions do not have access to centralized content, standards or data, the result is a lack of uniformity across the organization. Unfortunately, these systems cannot address complex labeling demands and are time intensive to maintain. Although these systems might meet requirements at the local level, managing labeling across a global supply chain becomes very difficult for a company that wants to have centralized control and labeling consistency.
When a business grows, Enterprise Labeling can scale with it. By standardizing and centralizing labeling, you can add locations, increase print volume, distribute new products more effectively, and comply with new regulations quickly. Enterprise Labeling offers labeling consistency, enhances brand integrity, reduces costs and offers a single scalable solution that facilitates expansion to new global locations.
Optimizing Label Design and Approval Process
As businesses continue to scale, new facilities, increased numbers of products, added partners and suppliers all result in an increasing number of business users needing access to labeling. And, as more users become involved, the risks of errors and the importance of accuracy reaches new heights. This makes it especially important to have visibility and control for managing labels.
Enterprise Labeling enables professionals to extend secure access to anyone in an organization or in the supply chain that needs to take part in the labeling process and business users can make changes themselves, without relying on complex IT processes and staff. Label design is best done by the business users who understand the customer and regulatory requirements, without complex review processes and costly IT resources involved.
With Enterprise Labeling you also can realize significant benefits by using automated workflows to manage reviews and approvals, monitor updates, and control label changes. Siloed, manual processes introduce additional cycle times and add risk to the processes of reviewing and approving labels and content. Implementing a configurable workflow framework
allows you to reduce cycle times on labels from months and weeks to days. This significantly reduces costs and increases agility when introducing new products or making major changes to labels.
Managing Labeling Content
As the amount of content (data, translations, images, etc.) and content versions required for labeling continues to increase, companies struggle with the question of where to house all of their content. Transactional and master data is most often sourced from ERP, WMS, SCM and 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 to keep the supply chain moving optimally.
Enterprise Labeling with digital asset management functionality can also simplify the label design processes by providing access to pre-approved images and artwork, including regulatory items such as pictograms. A comprehensive phrase library can also be important for storing countless variations of translations offering a single source for all labeling content around the globe. At the end of the day, whether organization’s content is in an external system or in an Enterprise Labeling system, it is key to ensure that approved content is available for real time labeling. This will help mitigate risk, improve control and compliance, and reduce the overall labeling process complexity.
Extending Labeling Across Your Global Supply Chain
Businesses today are moving more of their IT infrastructures to the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) based deployments. This enables them to focus more on their core businesses, simplify maintenance, improve total cost of ownership and streamline their on-demand provisioning of hardware and software. Along with these benefits, a managed cloud deployment provides flexibility to scale and eliminates the need for extensive disaster recovery plans.
Cloud-based labeling simplifies maintenance and support, reduces cost and IT involvement and expands global use. However, cloud-based labeling must not sacrifice the flexibility, speed and print performance that are both essential to any labeling effort. This demonstrates
the importance of deploying Enterprise Labeling Solutions that are built for cloud deployments, including remote printing capabilities that use native print drivers to optimize printing from the cloud.
With Enterprise Labeling that can be deployed on premise or in the cloud across all locations and regions, accessing centralized data and leveraging business rules, operational efficiency accelerates.
What To Look For In an Enterprise Labeling Solution
At its core, Enterprise Labeling offers a smarter, “enterprise-centric” approach to labeling. It offers the opportunity to:
Master all labeling variations – Changing customer requirements, changing regions, changing regulations and changing products all impact your labeling. These all must be met in a quick and efficient manner. Enterprise Labeling gives the power to master labeling variations by automating and applying user configurable business rules to your labeling processes. Dynamic labeling can maximize support for countless label combinations with minimum effort.
Meet customer requirements quickly - In today’s fast paced supply chain, it’s critical to be able to respond to customer labeling requirements quickly and efficiently on a global scale. Enterprise Labeling enables business users to make label changes quickly and easily, allowing you to always stay in lock step with your customers’ labeling demands.
Enable regulatory compliance - Enterprise Labeling enables compliance by dynamically generating the right labels that include the correct formats, barcodes, logos, languages, industry- specific warnings, and product information.
Integrate labeling with enterprise applications - Integrating labeling with existing business applications allows you to leverage your existing business processes and ‘sources of truth’ for label data. Certified integration facilitates automatic labeling to improve efficiency and accuracy and avoid costly mislabeling. Eliminate data duplication, streamline maintenance needs and improve the bottom line.
Empower users to create and update labels - Enable business users to create and update labels instead of relying on costly IT resources. By using browser-based and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) label design capabilities, organizations can improve the speed and efficiency of the label design process.
Empower users to create custom applications- Create browser-based applications to manage both labeling and non-labeling related business processes. Rather than creating offline or custom applications, design applications with drag and drop ease to make the development and maintenance of applications (often used for on demand printing) dramatically faster and easier.
Support high volume printing globally - As the speed of a firm’s operations increase
it is key to print volumes of labels quickly and efficiently, regardless of printer or geography. Native printer drivers maximize performance, minimize network traffic, and vastly reduce the maintenance associated with Windows drivers.
Scale labeling with ease - As business expands, look for the flexibility to scale labeling to meet new business requirements. Whether it’s more locations, increased print volumes, new products, or complying with evolving regulations, corporate labeling standards must be met. Centralizing labeling helps maintain consistency, while enabling global locations to solve their unique needs.
Lean on labeling experts for success - When it comes to labeling, one size does not fit all. Labeling needs are unique whether it’s your industry, regulations, customers, processes, or business applications, just to name a few. Rely on labeling experts for best practices, industry specific knowledge, tailored service and support reducing the need for costly IT resources. Look for comparable experience designing, developing and implementing the right software solutions with companies in a similar industry to address the right business situations.
Article by Josh Roffman, Loftware VP Product Management
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. Loftware’s design, native print, and built-in business rules functionality drives topline revenue, increases customer satisfaction, and maximizes supply chain efficiency for customers. With over 30 years of industry leadership, Loftware’s Enterprise Labeling Solutions and best practices enable leading companies to meet their customer-specific and regulatory requirements with unprecedented speed and agility.