Current Issues

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Modernising manufacturing and the supply chain

The impact of cloud on the labelling process

Modernising manufacturing and the supply chain
According to new research from APQC, 74% of respondents predict that digitalisation of the enterprise will have a major impact on supply chain management over the next three years. The research report also identified the top priorities for manufacturing and production as cutting costs, implementing new technologies and capabilities, and standardising processes.

In today’s modern world, manufacturers face a raft of challenges — demand variability, potential supply constraints, increased compliance, greater global competition and increasing customer expectations to name a few. As a result, it isn’t surprising that many are looking for ways to reduce costs and standardise processes — technology can be one way to address this but its more than just digitally enabling your supply processes to order more parts when stocks run low. This is an important part, but have you given the same attention to your barcode labelling systems?

Each industry has their own challenges but if you are involved in manufacturing and supply, each product’s labels must be traceable, compliant and transparent — not just within country, but across borders as well. This leads to huge challenges with the sheer amounts of data generated, all of which needs to be clear and understood by everyone, from all departments (IT, manufacturing, logistics etc.) within your own company, to your suppliers, customers and consumers. How can quality, accuracy and productivity be assured when there are so many stakeholders and so many label variations?

Challenges for labelling systems
For most companies, labelling has not been given much attention in the past unless it caused a problem. As a result, it is common for each factory, distribution centre or other facility to produce its own labels for shipments, inventory control and other processes. Each facility may have its own labelling software along with a host of different label printers. Clearly, this can lead to inconsistencies across your organisation, but the costs associated with such a disparate system can also be higher than you may be aware of.

Imagine if a customer requests a change to one of your shipment labels. With a decentralised system, inaccuracies become more common — in fact, mislabelled products are a leading cause of recalls. Indeed, the Food Industry Counsel states that mislabelled products were a key cause of product recall by the FDA in 2017. But inaccuracies can also have more subtle consequences, such as degradation in quality which undermines your brand, as well as the risk of errors leading to non-compliance and latency issues.

Time is a precious and costly commodity and having to use highly paid employees to change your label templates, especially when printer command scripting is required, is both time consuming and expensive. With multiple labelling processes and systems across your organisation, further latency and costs are introduced.

Digitalising the labelling process
Digitally transforming your labelling offers a way to centralise and keep control of your labelling processes, regardless of location. It doesn’t matter if the labels are needed for the factory or your distribution centre; they can be produced, changed or updated from a browser and accessed by whom and where they are needed.

A modernised, centralised labelling system can enhance your agility and quality, reduce costs and promote better supply chain collaboration within your organisation.
  • Improved agility 
Change requests and new label templates can be created to support new products and new customers without the need for a high level of expertise. A label management solution can digitalise and automate many of the processes, ensuring that users without programming knowledge can use the system and produce labels in a few hours, rather than wait weeks for IT. Whether workers are in the shipping, production, quality assurance, marketing or other departments; they can print labels as needed and be assured that they will print consistently on whichever printer is available at their location.

  • Improved quality 
With a centralised solution, labels are consistent — essential for maintaining compliance and brand consistency — whether they are created by production, marketing or IT. Additionally, customers benefit from consistency in terms of formatting and quality.

Storing only one version of each template centrally ensures proper integration with your MES or ERP as well as reducing chances for human error. Product counterfeiting can be addressed with multiple levels of role-based security, so your users can be restricted to access, and make changes, to only the files that they need.

  • Cost reduction 
One of the most obvious ways that centralising labelling reduces costs, is by eliminating the need for redundant and manual effort. It is not unusual for enterprises to have thousands of individual label files spread across their facilities, including many duplicates to serve the same customer. Centralisation eliminates duplicate files, saving you costs associated with maintaining them, as well as reducing the chances of mislabelling and associated recalls.

Cloud-based label management systems have effectively digitalised the quality assurance process, removing manual quality control. This means there’s a reduced labour cost, less risk of error and changes can be made and approved more quickly.

  • Improved collaboration
Centralised control allows you to be more collaborative with your supply chain partners. Because labels are easy to create and share, you can encourage suppliers to use a standardised label format, which is shared through a cloud-based label management system. Promoting consistency in your supply chain also helps to deter product counterfeiting and diversion.

Questions to ask
To determine if your organisation could benefit from a centralised, digital label management system it is useful to ask yourself the following questions:
  • How often do we update labels as an organisation and what amount of time is spent on this? 
  • Do you need to ask IT to make changes to your labels? 
  • How long do you have to wait for IT to make changes? Days? Weeks? 
  • How much does IT charge you to make label change requests? 
  • How effective is your quality assurance process? 
  • How many people are involved in creating, updating and printing labels? 
  • How many software applications do we use to produce these? 
  • How often does mislabelling occur? 
  • What are the consequences of mislabelling? 
  • Could we improve customer satisfaction or respond to compliance requirements more easily with a centralised solution? 

While these questions will need to be tailored to your own organisation, they provide a useful starting point when analysing your current situation. In order to compete in an increasingly connected world, where high-quality products must be delivered faster and to more markets, legacy approaches to labelling, with manual processes and disparate printing solutions simply don’t cut it. Labelling must be digitised, standardised and integrated with your manufacturing and logistics systems. Not only will this improve quality and responsiveness but reduce costs at the same time — and it’s not often that you have that opportunity.

Alex Saric
Smart Procurement Expert, Ivalua
The business impact of the new PM’s approach

Smart procurement expert Alex Saric warns that businesses trading with the EU need to urgently review supply chain operations ahead of Brexit

Guy Cuthbert
CEO, Atheon Analytics
Bring clarity of purpose to fixing food waste

Identifying the impact that waste has on sales margin and customer perception, and looking at the steps we can take to reduce total waste

David Griffiths
Senior Product Marketing & Strategy Manager, Adjuno
Putting your brand in the hands of AI

Entrusting data and brand values to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could prove to be your hero, not your villain.

Andreas Koenig
CEO, ProGlove
Wearable Technology - bringing data to the user and unlocking worker potential

The rise of the machine is fuelling essential discussions about the future role of workers – not least within logistics

Mike Thornton
Head of Manufacturing , RSM
UK manufacturing downturn mirrors other developed economies

Commenting on the latest results from the Markit/CIPS PMI manufacturing survey

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes Systems UK
Is digitisation the key to preventing cross-border landed costs from disrupting international ecommerce?

How ecommerce organisations can ride the storm of uncertainty to international retail success.

Paul Croft
Director, 3DGBIRE
Taking the Hype out of the Innovation Cycle

From disrupting supply chains to rethinking material use and ending over-engineering, innovation is gaining pace.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Companies lose millions by side-lining procurement teams, research shows

SCALA surveyed a selection of the UK’s best-known businesses and 3PLs

Richard Seel
Managing Director Supply Chain & Logistics, Delaware
Meeting the Challenge of Supply Chain Efficiency – How Manufacturers Can Achieve their Goals

The process of building efficient sustainable supply chains is becoming increasingly difficult, manufacturers must ensure they don’t fall behind.

Olivier Binet
Managing Director International Markets, InPost
How to build sustainability into last mile deliveries

Why streamlined delivery is at the heart of a green supply chain

Ron Volpe
Global Vice President Apps Business Development, Tradeshift
Under-Pressure Retailers Turn to D2C to Level the Playing Field

‘Retail apocalypse’ continues to ravage the high street - 2,700 closed UK Retailers in 2018

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Margin Erosion is turning the spotlight on the Warehouse

Craig explains how the next generation of warehouse operations will not only halt margin erosion but deliver new levels of retail profitability.

Simon Runc
Principal Visual Analyst, Atheon Analytics
Unlocking the Value in Data

The Science of Visualisation

Steve Purvis
Operations Director, Bis Henderson Space
Brexit Uncertainty Highlights Need for Flexible Logistics Strategy

Reassessing the balance of risk to supply chains and the potential horrors of trying to find well-located warehouse space

Alan Gunner
Business Development Director, Adjuno
Starting at the source: achieving a sustainable supply chain

Alan outlines why the key is for organisations to take control and focus on achieving full visibility

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Conquering Connected Commerce

From the omnichannel dream to the retail reality, paving the way for future prosperity

Mark Jolley
EMEA Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Solutions Sales Lead, Zebra Technologies
Augmented Reality is becoming a Retail Reality

4 ways this advanced technology is improving the shopping experience

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
The Cost of Doing Nothing

Retailers that continue to innovate, listen to their customers and invest in technology will reap the rewards;

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
Are You Navigating Global UDI Compliance?

If so, you won't won't want to miss this year’s European UDI Forum, taking place in Brussels, April 24-25

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
How the Resource and Waste Strategy Can Empower Industry

The DEFRA’s Resource and Waste Strategy sets out to reduce waste, get businesses to place sustainability higher up the priority list

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
No more fashion victims - retailers will flock to copy ASOS’ returns clampdown

ASOS’ new crackdown on ‘wardrobing’ will be replicated by most stores, says ParcelHero

Georgia Leybourne
Senior Director International Marketing, Manhattan Associates
Are we embracing the profit potential of the over 50s?

Far more demanding in their retail habits, more likely to invest in big ticket items, much more money to spend vs the younger generation.

Jon Moody
Chief Executive Officer, SSG Insight
The Future of Supply Chain Management

SSG Insight CEO Jon Moody discusses the importance of adopting a digital supply chain in a post Brexit Britain and Industry 4.0

David Luttenberger
Global Packaging Director, Mintel
Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019 and beyond

Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, has today announced four trends impacting the global packaging industry in 2019 and beyond

Andrew Tavener
Head of Marketing, Descartes UK
Compliance Management – it’s time for joined up thinking

How joined-up approach to compliance data transforms the overhead & provides insight that can deliver additional efficiencies throughout the business

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
Primark's move to 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton should be commended

Primark is one of the latest retailers to announce new measures to become more sustainable by launching 100% sustainably sourced cotton jeans.

Marc Corriveau
Account Manager, Loftware
Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products

If you work for a food and beverage company, you may have noticed something about your competitors

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for British businesses

It is likely that the prime minister will now have to request a long extension to article 50 at Thursday's Brussels summit

Will Broome
CEO, Ubamarket
Increasing competition in the digital age will be beneficial for the high street

Increasing competition regulation during the digital age will not only be beneficial for consumers

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Booking a courier? No printer required, says ParcelCompare

It’s a common misconception that a printer is essential when booking a courier pick-up.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for food and drink businesses

Given that the Brexit referendum was only advisory, not in any way binding, there have really always been four potential outcomes open to us

Graham Parker
CEO, Gravity Supply Chain Solutions
Mitigating The Risks Of Trade Wars And Tariffs

As trade wars heat up, businesses need to protect their profit margins from increased tariffs.

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
How Brexit Will Impact Supply Chain Labeling?

The clock is ticking for the United Kingdom and European Union to finalize plans for the UK’s departure from the EU.

Sid Holian
Managing Director, Bis Henderson Consulting
Three critical steps to a hi-tech, agile supply chain

Retailers are facing a new reality and as a consequence supply chains must change.

Manu Tyagi
Associate Partner, Retail and Consumer Goods, Infosys Consulting
M&S and Ocado have signed a £750 million deal to take M&S groceries into the home delivery market

M&S’ deal with Ocado marks the high street retailer’s continued fight for survival, as it enters into the home delivery game.

Olivier Frère
Serialisaton Expert, Zetes
Understanding the Tobacco Products Directive

In a recent report issued by KPMG it was estimated that last year, counterfeit and contraband cigarette consumption was 8.7 % of total use in the EU

Dan Brown
Corporate Sector Director, SWRnewstar
Mind the gap: how the transport sector can meet targets to reduce avoidable waste

UK train companies are forever warning us to ‘Mind the Gap’.

Paul Heiden
Senior Vice President of Product Management, Ultimaker
6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain

Year on year, 3D printing is becoming more capable.

Dave Locke
EMEA Chief Technology Officer, WWT
Merged pharmaceutical firms seek fast-track route to savings

The pharmaceutical industry is preparing for an accelerated pace of consolidation, with the number of mergers up 39 per cent since 2017

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Amazon and Alibaba are creating the biggest revolution in shipping for 60 years

Global e-commerce is leading the biggest shake up in international shipping since containerization

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes
How to make international ecommerce transparent, efficient and cost-effective

Cross-border ecommerce provides organisations with, theoretically, a low-cost opportunity to break into new markets.

Stephan Buhre
Managing Director, Implico
Standardized data communication in the downstream oil and gas sector

Today’s downstream companies do no longer just trade oil and gas.

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Putting the WOW in the checkout experience

Embracing technology is a prerequisite for success in the modern retail environment.

Richard Parfect
Fund Manager, Seneca Investment Managers
The cessation of Airbus A380 production

Richard Parfect, Fund Manager at Seneca Investment Managers, comments on the cessation of A380 production in 2021

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What next for British business?

John Perry comments what next for British business

Chris Jones
EVP Marketing & Services, Descartes
5 Key Logistics Trends and Technology Implications for 2019

2018 can certainly be summarised as a turbulent year in logistics and transportation management

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
What is the Checkout of the Future?

To keep up with consumer expectations, the in-store experience, in particular, the process of checking out, needs to transform.

Jason Chester
Director of Global Channel Programs, InfinityQS
Industry pessimism could delay digital transformation and restrict growth across the manufacturing sector

Latest CBI Survey reveals spending on plant & machinery, training and innovation all expected to be lower in the year ahead

Charlie Pool
CEO, Stowga
Five key trends shaping the supply chain in 2019

2018 was a turbulent year for most industries - logistics and supply chain was no exception.