Death by a Thousand Labeling Cuts

by Bob Brown, on February 23, 2017

Labeling is often an afterthought in the manufacturing supply chain. It's necessary for sure, but many decision makers view it as a tactical part of the process that doesn't really "make or break" long-term success or profitability. And yet, if you look closer and take into account those instances where there are delays and mistakes due to faulty labeling, it adds up. Like a thousand paper cuts, bleeding your organization in costly time, effort and expense. 

Consider these common scenarios: A customer wants a recently rebranded logo on its shipping label. A supplier delivers raw materials with the wrong label. Your product is held up in customs in another country because they can't read the label. To solve these specific issues, you may lose several hours or, more likely, several days.

In a recent survey we conducted with about 200 manufacturing professionals, nearly half—47%—indicated they were experiencing costly downtime due to labeling disruptions. The reasons cited for these delays included dealing with customer-specific or custom barcode labels, product-specific labels, and slow label printing speeds, in that order. When you add up all of these isolated labeling challenges occurring across different segments of your supply chain, you’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost productivity, severely impacting your bottom line.

That's why companies need to start thinking about barcode label software as a strategic asset in the supply chain. An enterprise-wide labeling solution, tightly integrated with existing systems, unifies your entire labeling process. By gaining centralized visibility and control, you can better adapt to ever-changing label requirements. Errors are reduced because you’re pulling data from sources of truth, be it SAP, Oracle, your WMS system, etc. Any customer-specific label changes that come in are handled systematically with secure access to a library of templates that can be updated as needed—while greatly reducing the number of templates you need to manage. Built-in, configurable business logic can also be applied to automate formatting changes like color, graphics and language with unprecedented speed, security and accuracy.

And from a performance perspective, if you use a labeling solution that supports native print drivers, you greatly reduce the drain on the network while improving the speed of label printing. When you’re talking about high-output label printing in supply chain supporting thousands of labels a day, this too adds up to tremendous gains in productivity and cost savings.

In fact, with many of our manufacturing customers, they’re seeing a payback with Enterprise Labeling in 12 months or less—and that’s not taking into account some of the harder to measure benefits such as reduced downtime and better labeling accuracy.

What are some of your other pain points or burning questions as it relates to labeling in manufacturing? Check out our recently developed Q&A report. It's a quick, easy read that will open your eyes to some of the other value-added benefits of supply chain labeling software.

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Topics:Supply ChainManufacturingLabeling