How Your Barcode Labeling Environment Can Help You Do More With Less
Accurate identification of goods is essential to the success of any manufacturing operation. Identification labeling requirements of any manufacturing facility can include pallet labels, carton tags, item labels and vendor compliant shipping labels.
In the current state that manufacturing is in — lower operational headcount and unpredictable production volume, along with a rapidly-changing supply chain — eliminating manual steps is a necessity. By eliminating manual steps in your labeling environment, you can address these issues now and be positioned well for continuing success.
How can your barcode labeling environment help you do more with less?
REMOVING MANUAL STEPS WITH PRINT AUTOMATION
Integration of labeling software and business systems including ERP, WMS, SCM, and others enables streamlined barcode label data population and high-volume label printing to counteract the decreasing operational headcount. If your current labeling process looks like this:
- Open the label design software
- Browse for the correct label
- Select the right printer
- Populate the quantity to print
- Click print
- Pray it’s right
Then your printing process is more manual than it needs to be and print automation could add significant value to your organization. Print automation can be defined as, “a centralized technology that replaces the manual process of triggering a print job within a labeling environment.” Here’s an illustration of how it works:
By integrating your label printing system with your ERP system, such as Oracle and SAP, you can expect to minimize errors, increase print speeds, and maximize the ROI of your existing system. Your business system already holds the variable data such as product information, lot numbers, shipping addresses, packing lists, order numbers, and more. By systematically sending this data to the right label template at the right time, labeling becomes an efficient and cost-effective process.
SCALABILITY SAVES COST AND TIME
Perhaps you need solutions for simple labeling processes to respond to temporary requirements, or you need to scale up quickly to respond to spike in demand. What should your labeling do for you?
Print to an unlimited number of printers. As needs and automation requirements change, and the volume of printers in your labeling environment may increase, make sure your label design software is scalable, so you can add printers as needed and ensure true WYSIWYG labeling with native print drivers.
Print documents and labels from the same application. If you use the same data for your documents (like order receipts, bills of materials, or packing lists) and labels, moving document printing into your label design software makes sense. An advanced label creation and integration software enables label and document printing standardization by allowing multiple database records to be on one file. That means, when new documents or labels come into your database, your software can seamlessly integrate.
LEVERAGE SAMPLES AND ELIMINATE MANUAL STEPS FOR EFFICIENCY
The ability to leverage high-resolution artwork on labels and packaging combined with a secure label approval process will help set you up for labeling success. In addition, use of label samples and bringing on-demand color labeling in-house with a library of art and images while removing the “two-step” process brings efficiency and cost savings.
Look for solutions with easy-to-use label samples that comply with the most recent regulations. In addition, many companies are re-focusing their manufacturing to produce products they don’t have a great deal of experience with, such as distilleries making hand sanitizer or automotive manufacturers turning to ventilator production. In both cases, there are regulatory and compliance attention that needs to be addressed in labeling. Label samples can help speed the time to get these crucial products to the market.
Cutting manual steps out of the process
Labeling software can allow you to add variable data from various devices such as scanners, scales and keyboards to your labels automatically, in addition to triggering a label directly from your business system. These features limit the human interaction with your labels and in turn help minimize human errors. Efficiencies include:
- Increased print speed within your labeling environment
- Reduced label waste.
INCREASE ACCURACY WITH FORMS, ON-DEMAND LABELING
With increased labeling environment accuracy, you will reduce waste, eliminate returns due to mislabeled product, help prevent recalls, and will gain more efficiencies that will save you money and time.
Utilize forms to design your ideal label printing process. Using forms in your label printing process can separate print users from the design interface to ensure data is formatted correctly and no unintended edits are made. Forms can help enforce user roles within your team, distinguishing between the label designer and the person who clicks print. The print user doesn’t even have to open the label design software in order to print labels.
Print labels directly from your business system. Set up your barcode label printing system to monitor a database to populate variable data such as part number, work order and other information and automatically print labels – without any human interaction necessary. Having your barcode label printing process fully automated with your business system means less time spent interacting with your label designer.
Print on-demand, and leverage on-demand color labeling. On-demand labeling allows designers to create a smart label template that incorporates variable data & images. Printing labels on-demand eliminates inventory of pre-printed label stock and associated label waste due to misprints. Look for printers that work seamlessly with native printer drivers, enabling true WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) on-demand color label printing.
Manufacturing is faced with many new challenges — ensuring workers are safe, keeping operations at 100% capacity with potentially fewer people, creating contingency plans that may be changing daily. In an environment that is changing very quickly, consider how labeling solutions can evolve. You may also need to lean more on your partners than you ever have in the past.
TEKLYNX International Enterprise Product Manager Nick Recht specializes in designing enterprise-level labeling software solutions that integrate into existing ERP systems resulting in wide-scale operational and labeling improvements for the companies with which he partners.