In today’s fast-paced global supply chain, it’s critical to be able to respond to customer requirements quickly and efficiently on a global scale. Failing to do so in a timely fashion results in dissatisfied customers and loss of business. Without implementing a labeling approach that enables rapid label change globally, companies are forced to maintain countless permutations of labels. This results in more expense in maintaining labels and a lack of consistency. Enterprise labeling, which offers centralized, dynamic, data-driven labeling, allows companies to limit the number of label permutations and increase supply chain efficiency throughout their global operations.
Following is a series of questions and answers to address how to respond to customer and regulatory label requirements.
Q: Why is it important to change labels dynamically?
Companies today are faced with complexities and variations in labeling that they didn’t need to deal with in the past. Customer requirements and regulatory standards are increasing and evolving at a rapid rate. Not to mention the fact that today’s companies are scaling globally with sites and partners around the world, where labeling is mission critical. This requires companies to address labeling on a global scale so that regional, language and other business requirements can easily be met.
However, when companies are working to support countless labeling variations, they struggle with a staggering amount of label templates or designs, all which must be created and maintained separately. This obviously involves a lot of time and work to make sure that each and every permutation reflects necessary changes when updates are made. So the question is – how do you do this in an efficient manner without costing the company substantial time and money?
Some older methods of supporting changing labeling requirements may work fine enough for small companies with lower volumes and less label complexity, but when you’re dealing with the type of increasing volumes that large, global companies maintain, it’s a different story.
Managing the exponential growth of label templates and formats can create a significant burden on these types of businesses. An enterprise labeling solution that can easily and dynamically manage mass label changes allows companies to respond quickly to new requirements while maintaining labeling consistency across a global supply chainThis type of data-driven labeling also enables these businesses to achieve greater responsiveness in meeting changing labeling requirements and offers a dramatic reduction in overall label maintenance.
Q: Why are standardization and centralization important to achieve the benefits of labeling?Centralization is really important in maximizing the value of
Centralization is really important in maximizing the value of dynamic, data-driven labeling. By centralizing their labeling, companies are able to use a common set of label formats across their organization that are configured to be dynamic with label content being driven directly by the sources of truth for label data. This approach offers the ability to have all the variations required in label output, accounting for the region, language, product, and brand information without using different label templates. It also enables companies to move from hard coding labels to a more flexible paradigm that enables the source data to drive what’s on the label. So the power is really in the simplicity of leveraging a small number of label formats or templates to drive a nearly unlimited variety of labels.
Of course, standardization is also key to achieving these benefits. Many global organizations have hundreds of different locations with different divisions, groups and functions spread across the globe. When companies standardize and focus on a common approach to labeling that can be data driven, they are able to achieve labeling consistency and take advantage of dynamic, data-driven labeling.
Q: How is dynamic, data-driven labeling critical to enabling consistency and simplifying label changes across a global supply chain?
With dynamic, data-driven labeling, companies can make changes to data or images in upstream data sources which enable both large scale changes and labeling consistency at the same time. By driving labeling directly from sources of truth for data, companies are able to make any changes to data or images centrally and leverage their enterprise labeling solution to ensure that those changes can be reflected in all of the appropriate labels at the same time.
This ability ensures that companies with multiple users at different locations have immediate access to labels and label data reflecting any mandated changes. This ability to make large-scale changes with immediacy is essential for companies that can’t afford labeling errors and when brand representation and labeling consistency is a must.
Q: How can this help my global operations in the supply chain?
Rather than resisting label change brought on by regulatory, customer, or business requirements, companies are able to embrace and even offer changes that will help drive efficiency and satisfaction with customers, partners and within the business.
Maintaining an enterprise labeling solution which enables dynamic, data-driven labeling has many benefits. It improves customer responsiveness significantly, reduces maintenance and overhead, and streamlines overall supply chain operations. This allows companies to respond to customer requirements quickly and efficiently on a global scale, providing new opportunities to grow their business.
Q: Are there any specific industries, which would benefit most from this approach to labeling?
Yes. Although this type of labeling is important across all industries, it can provide special value in cases when you’re talking about a large, global organization with many locations and many different labels. Also, it is critical in industries such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical, where companies are dealing with evolving industry regulations and extensive variability in labeling.
This approach also offers clear benefits in many highly-regulated industries where labels are subject to a validation process under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines. The process that companies go through in validating labels with the FDA is onerous and, as a result, minimizing the amount of label changes that are made to the template is critical. Dynamic, data-driven labeling allows these companies to keep their labels static while only making a change in a single place, to the source data. This allows a single point of validation versus having to validate each and every label that uses a particular data element or image.
Although some industries might not fall under the same regulatory oversight, the value of simplifying changes and ensuring consistency can still have a significant positive business impact.
Josh Roffman is vice president of product management at Loftware, a provider of enterprise labeling solutions based in Portsmouth, N.H. He has over 20 years of product management experience with enterprise software companies.