5th October 2017

Simplifying your Labeling Supply Chain

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As leaders in highly regulated industries embrace Industry 4.0 and best practice labelling and artwork, they must recognize that all stakeholders need to be fully empowered and connected at all times. Here are some of the steps that can be taken to simplify your labeling supply chain, along with some of the operational and financial benefits that this can deliver.

Frequently, global organizations are hampered in their attempts to improve supply chain efficiency. Often, this is due to multiple, localized approaches that have evolved over time to solve individual country needs despite product commonality. Alternatively, it could be the result of M&A activity, with newly acquired operations continuing to run their own discrete systems and processes. In many cases, it’s usually a combination of both.

Although not without risk and potentially being highly disruptive, moving to a more streamlined supply chain needs to be embraced if organizations are to remain competitive and reduce time to market. In their report earlier this year, the World Packaging Organisation emphasised the importance of accurate packaging and labelling and how this can contribute to overall supply chain performance. Furthermore, consolidation of multiple production facilities can only be achieved if the labeling integrity can be guaranteed at a local level. The question is, “How can I achieve this without disrupting existing supply chains?”

One way is to eliminate as much complexity at the local level as possible by transitioning from ‘tribal knowledge’ to formal processes. Rationalizing stock down to a minimal quantity of graphically consistent labels is the first step. You then need to look for a solution with in-built flexibility to accommodate local language and branding variations that link back to master content managed centrally. This will drive down complexity across the print supply chain and reduce the amount of time spent unnecessarily managing duplicate content. Migrating to a new cloud-based platform that simplifies connectivity with local print resources also means that much of this consolidation can be achieved ‘off-line’, without risk of disruption to existing production processes. This also unlocks your supply chain, simplifies late stage printing and enables you to collaborate with multiple partners whilst improving labeling accuracy.

Where adopting this approach, we’ve also seen organizations being able to increase artwork production capacity without increasing numbers of staff. This being due to the vast reduction in the number of label layouts being managed. Having the ability to ensure exact placement of graphics also makes it possible to leverage greater return from investment in print plates through their re-use.

Consolidation of label creation around a global master file also simplifies change management. The almost constant stream of updates driven by country-specific regulatory changes and differing language combinations that global organizations often experience can be managed as ‘business as usual’. This also makes it much easier to demonstrate compliance against approval processes, eliminating the need to trawl back through email and country-specific documentation to find the necessary supporting evidence.

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Author:

  • Bob Tilling

Tags:

artwork management EU Regulation Integration labelling PLM UDI