When your business relies on fast manufacturing and shipping supply chains, there are several potential chokepoints that could slow your processes nearly to a halt. Some of these are obvious – if your machinery breaks down, you won’t be able to produce goods until it’s fixed, for example. Other issues are more subtle and easier to miss. For example, if you aren’t designing and managing your barcode labels effectively, it can be difficult to keep logistics processes moving.
While designing and managing industrial labels isn’t a superficially exciting part of operations, focusing on this element of production can have a massive positive impact on your company. If you’ve gone years without updating your barcode label printing software, you could be suffering slowdowns and efficiency losses, without ever knowing there’s another way to proceed. Poor label design and management practices have the potential to send repercussions through your effectiveness at large.
Challenges Due to Inadequate Barcode Printing Software
What does bad barcode labeling look like? In today’s companies, the problem may simply come down to an outdated legacy system which has been retained for years because it isn’t explicitly broken. The problems that come with such a tool may include a lack of connection with other supply chain systems, as well as the general ineffectiveness of collaboration through email, spreadsheets and other nonspecialized technologies.
When employees are designing and managing industrial barcode labels by sending files back and forth, there is always a pronounced risk that data will become lost or duplicated. Making changes to the wrong copy of a file or losing track of who has already worked on a label can lead to serious mistakes. When employees are working with data that is required for legal compliance reasons, the consequences of such label design slip-ups can include fines and recalls.
Another of the disadvantages associated with legacy software includes a lack of connection with the other data-intensive solutions employed in the supply chain today, such as enterprise resource planning. Companies should be able to access ERP systems as sources of data truth, and this type of operational approach can only really thrive when there is integration between labeling and the data sources.
McKinsey recently noted some of the data-intensive operational methods being employed in the supply chain, with functions such as warehouse management becoming more efficient as all the relevant systems are linked together, sharing data. Labeling can be the linchpin of such a system because the barcode labels produced by these systems provide the connection between digital databases and the physical products being scanned and shipped from one corner of the warehouse to another.
While your organization may not have noticed a single breaking point at which its current barcode printing software became outdated, it’s worth considering the benefits that could come with rethinking and upgrading your operations. Repeated instances of inefficient and ineffective label design and data management processes can add up, weakening your logistics operations.
Advantages of Centralized Labeling Solutions
Implementing new, centralized barcode printing software isn’t just a way to counteract inefficiencies and potential roadblocks in labeling processes. The distinct advantages that come with these tools can make an immediate impression in your facilities, from manufacturing to warehousing and beyond. Due to its close connections to multiple other systems within the supply chain, barcode labeling refreshes can have transformative impact. The following are just a few of the positive changes that can result:
Design and Management Go Global
Centralized software systems accessible from multiple facilities are among the most important solutions for today’s distributed supply chains. You should consider the advantages of choosing this type of industrial label software, especially if your operations are spread around the world. Cloud-based software is at the forefront of this field, and the related IT systems are already making an impact in the supply chain.
According to Accenture, supply chain executives have fallen in love with the cloud-based software model for multiple reasons. They are embracing the collaborative value of having all relevant personnel work within the same digital environments, and enjoying the benefits of network-wide upgrades that don’t have to be implemented directly.
With systems such as supply chain management and ERP moving into the cloud, it’s natural for industrial labeling to follow suit. Every part of a company’s digital supply chain infrastructure should be integrated and widely accessible. Labels can be designed and printed at any location, based on accurate data from the whole network, when your chosen software application enables remote access.
Complex Issues Become Simpler
Dealing with a new legal obligation in one of the territories your country serves can be a simple operation if you have an updated labeling software deployment. On the other hand, ensuring the upgrade is applied consistently, approved by all relevant parties and pushed live might be a serious challenge without a modern, centralized solution.
Creating variations and versions of labels is a major challenge for companies today, with Loftware’s latest industry survey finding that 80% of producers are worried mistakes might slip through systems and onto their finished labels. It’s important to be able to create multiple labels that adequately describe the products of your line.
Whether you’re producing your own goods or working for a third party on a contract basis, implementing quick label updates is an essential part of avoiding slowdowns, recalls and waste. Implementing a new, centralized labeling system gets you closer to this ideal.
Answers and Support Are Easily Accessible
One major reason to move away from a cobbled-together labeling system is your newfound ability to receive service and support from the software provider. When your operations involve manual, outdated processes and a lack of real knowledge and expertise there are a range of problems that occur. You should be able to rely on labeling experts for best practices, advice, and support that can only come from those that design, develop and implement the software you’re using.
Due to the potential value to be gained from working directly with a software provider, it’s clear that you should choose your vendor carefully. International Data Corporation’s report on the state of enterprise labeling recommended choosing labeling partners that have a strong future vision and possess strong references from past implementation projects.
Incentives to Transform Operations Now
Whatever benefits you’re hoping to recoup from transforming your industrial barcode label design and management operations – more accurate labels, less friction in design collaboration, better support for the system, an ability to reach your whole network of facilities – your best bet is to make upgrades.
Staying with a makeshift system that lacks centralized data can only get you so far. Standardizing to eliminate disparate and homegrown systems means moving toward efficiency and integration and away from disconnection and potential human error.