How Variability Simplifies Barcode Labeling and Mitigates Existing Challenges

Understanding barcode labeling can be as tricky as addressing the technicalities of the same. When it comes to ascertaining the complex business requirements, configurable logic and scalable labeling systems play pivotal roles. Moreover, companies usually need to handle a host of labeling requirements— in order to fulfill regulatory, regional and even customer oriented needs.

It needs to be understood that a typical barcode label fits in massive amounts of critical data sets with the complexities evolving on a daily basis. Before we move further into this post and discuss about the variability involved in the process of barcode labeling, it is only appropriate to enlist the underlining challenges associated with the process.

 

Critical Challenges

Based on a global survey it can be inferred that most enterprises face certain kinds of labeling challenges which in turn hinder their progress.

 

  1. Failing to Meet Customer Requirements

Almost 84 percent of surveyed professionals find it hard to meet customer requirements when it comes to barcode labeling. Associated discrepancies often lead to penalties and fines— further compromising the entrepreneurial sustainability.

 

  1. Downtime Disruptions

Select companies experience downtime issues courtesy a host of labeling disruptions. These hindrances have a significant impact on the manufacturing process which then gets delayed— thereby attracting criticisms.

 

  1. Failing to Comply with Industrial Print Speeds

At least 45 percent of globally active enterprises find it hard to meet print speed requirements. Lack of communication between the native languages and existing printers often lead to the same.

 

  1. Manual Techniques

There are many organizations— 55 percent of the surveyed lot— persisting with the manual labeling process. Inability to incorporate manufacturing automation is something that makes it exceedingly hard for the companies to address variability— the main focus of our discussion.

Be it downgraded print speeds, downtime disruptions or failing to meet customer requirements— labeling automation is something that can easily solve these major industrial challenges besides addressing the issue of variability. Lastly, mislabeling errors can lead to heavy loses i.e. approximately $100 on an hourly basis.

 

The Concept of Variability

Barcode labeling usually shows up with streamlined and scalable requirements. However, companies failing to meet these necessities are often pushed into the oblivion. This is where extensive variability comes into the play as there is nothing called a standard label that fits in— almost everywhere.

That said, enterprise labeling embraces variability by ensuring content upgrades and a host of formatting tweaks. The idea here is to offer something that changes dynamically— based on user requirements. For example, there are many companies working with a discrete product but each one looks to add different labels to the concerned entity. This could mean different set of information, data sets and even images— urging labeling firms to include variability into the scheme of things.

Moreover, addressing variability isn’t a straightforward concept as it requires a host of metrics to be analyzed and taken into account. For certain demographics, labeling variability needs to indicate the country language and whether the product is being shipped— internationally. Apart from that, compliance logo or details have to be mentioned— in some cases. Lastly, there are times when the product itself can easily determine the labeling variability— based on the composition and usage.

Variability is mostly built around industrial automation with companies applying labels and modifications to the existing products. This, in turn, saves a lot of time and effort.

 

Impacts of Variability

Variability, when it comes to labeling, can have diverse effects on a business. In some cases, it can readily increase the existing costs while there are instances when this approach towards barcode labeling slows down the process and comes out with best products in the business.

That said, variability often lends added security to the manufacturers as the labels are then created discreetly and cater to specific customer requirements. This calls for the inclusion of Enterprise labeling solutions which then helps companies automate the barcode labeling process by making the best use of business logic.

If companies are looking to address labeling variability, it is important to take a note of configurable business logic— allowing them to reprogram, customize and strategize ideas— depending on user preferences. This approach towards labeling minimizes the number of entities with pre-structured templates added into the scheme of things. This makes it easier for companies to automate stuffs and add certain levels of variation to each and every label.

Safety Guidelines for a Warehouse Workplace Environment

Customers usually rely heavily on the logistical processes of enterprises for ensuring proper storage and distribution of concerned products. Be it an authorized distribution center or a proper warehouse, safety happens to be the primary concern when it comes to controlling hazards and ensuring the well-being of workers. Warehouse safety, therefore, is one logistical balancing activity which is often overlooked in the wake of industrial growth.

Although safeguarding a warehouse comes with myriad set of benefits, there are times when inadequate resources, insufficient time and lack of opportunities come out as the main reasons why the same gets compromised in the long run. However, results are readily visible when the safety measures are implemented— assisting enterprises with higher productivity and improved employee satisfaction.

Why Warehouse Safety is an Important Logistical Cog?

Disregarding warehouse safety readily kills off the reliability quotient. Companies, often lose out on a loyal customer base if the condition of products— stored and distributed via warehouses— isn’t top-notch. Moreover, strengthening the safety regulations readily minimizes the risk of injuries and workplace disruptions caused due to uncalled mishaps.

Apart from that, warehouse safety also lowers down the equipment downtime— associated with any industrial setup.

How to Go about Warehouse Safety— Enlisting the Safety Guidelines

In the subsequent sections, we shall be talking about the existing safety guidelines— associated with a warehouse or any distribution center. These measures should be diligently followed by workers and employees— for minimizing injuries, product damage and everything that negatively impacts the growth of the logistical interface of an organization.

  1. Using Safety Equipment

When it comes to managing a warehouse, special emphasis must be given to the heavier items in play. It is therefore advisable to work with hydraulic dollies and even forklifts for lifting the same. In addition to that, warehouse staff should use proper eyewear at work. Hard hats should be made mandatory in a similar working environment.

Educating employees about fire exits and installed sprinklers— in case of fire-based emergencies— is advisable. Adding to the list of equipment is therefore important when it comes to strengthening the warehouse safety guidelines. While these attributes take out the obvious issues of injuries, they also instill faith concerning the workplace environment. Enterprises flinching about the increased costs must understand that having warehouse safety covered readily pays off in the long run.

  1. Eliminate Safety Hazards

Potential hazards are common to a warehouse working environment. However, it is important to eliminate most of them via regular safety checks. Elementary precautions include keeping the floor free of liquids, stray cords and items that spill off. Covering pits and floor cracks in also an important aspect towards handling potential threats.

  1. Label Hazardous Zones

Warehouse safety guidelines seem incomplete without the hazardous zones getting a mention. When it comes to a warehouse environment, it is important to label zones for safe walk and other non-professional activities. However, it isn’t advisable to arbitrarily assigned zones as proper signage and authorization are needed.

Black paint, tape and even white stripes can help if the enterprises are vigilant about the safety of workers and concerned employees. Having hazardous areas marked can easily avoid accidents.

  1. Incorporate Safer Techniques while Lifting

Most warehouse inclusions are heavy and need to be transported with care. Therefore, it is important to assess the best options available for lifting goods. Firstly, warehouse superintendents need to ensure the best possible route for the product in picture. Once an obstacle-free pathway is identified, safe lifting strategies must come into the picture.

Some of the best tactics include using push methods instead of pull. Moreover, it is also advisable to lean in the exact direction of the load— while moving the object. Enterprises using forklifts must train drivers and only authorize experienced personnel for lifting.

  1. Provide Refresher Course and Training

Warehouse staff should be updated about the workplace environment and even safe practices at work. Education and training are the important aspects to better adherence and staff members need to be fully aware of the risks involved. Cutting corners— in terms of staff training— often lead to catastrophic consequences. That said, warehouse management must be aware of the repercussions and this is why courses and training should be given precedence.

  1. Promote Warehouse Awareness

Probably the most overlooked aspect of warehouse safety— overall awareness is a pertinent aspect which needs to be promoted— in every possible manner. One way of achieving the same includes healthy communication between the staff members. Moreover, the employees need to be vocal about their requirements and even discrepancies at work. One example would be a simple yet important “coming through” alert which lets coworkers know that something heavy or inflammable is crossing the pathway.

Every person— within the warehouse— needs to learn about the terms and terminologies used by the coworkers.

Warehouse safety is a critical aspect and even plays an important role in customer satisfaction and retention. While most of the mentioned tactics are easy to implement, it must be understood that all of them are interlinked and readily work towards the betterment of the workplace environment.

 

Revamping Supply Chain Setups with Big Data Analytics

Supply chain management requires enterprises to deal with diverse data sets. Be it truckloads of structured data or even unstructured bits of information, supply chains have long been driven by quantifiable indicators and statistics. However, the revolutionized industry urges organizations to inculcate real-time analytics which in turn brings them a step closer to the concept of Big Data.

Adopting Big Data Analytics: An Innovative Start or A Lingering Issue?

Implementing Big Data within a supply chain schema isn’t expected to bear fruits overnight. The application requires an influx of data forces, mass validations and development systems for deriving vital insights regarding situations, products and other metrics involved. This, being a multi-faceted approach, requires customers and professionals to be patient. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Big Data Analytics has arrived but companies are still falling behind when Big Data insights are being looked at.

In simpler words, the modern day application of Big Data analytics— targeting supply chain management— requires a deeper and surely a clearer sense of approach.  It isn’t surprising to see that many companies have been slightly skeptical when it comes to implementing Big Data analytics within the supply chain hierarchy as compared to other working areas like manufacturing and marketing. Although, analytics is innovative to work with, the apprehensions are still hindering seamless adoptions.

Driving Efficiencies Home

There are several factors pertaining to supply chain management which require immediate attention.  Be it the vehicle conditions, machineries associated with a setup or even inventory solutions— there are a host of structured intricacies to deal with.

The presumably successful application of Big Data has been quite significant in driving better sales as many enterprises have already embraced the concept— wholeheartedly.

Let us quickly analyze a few aspects that concern supply chain management and the improvements bestowed upon— courtesy Big Data analytics:

  • Handling Unstructured Data Sets— The likes of transportation logistics, inventory management and even warehouse management hardly offer structured data. Having Big Data analytics at the helm allows companies to use clocked digital cameras for monitoring changes, stock levels and a host of other requirements which are unstructured in nature.
  • Dealing with Forecasting— Flexibilities offered by Big Data analytics work perfectly when it comes to supply chain forecasting. The existing camera data can be paired with diverse algorithms and used for predicting stock management scenarios. This technology is suitable for distribution centers and warehouses where resupplies need to be essentially predicted— sans human interactions.

Pillars of Big Data Analytics

Analytics synonymous to Big Data needs to have two focal points— making it usable and scalable at the same time. Being ‘Predictive’ is the first pillar of Big Data science which tells enterprises about the course of action. Now with the data sets available, the analytics needs to be ‘Prescriptive’ as well— further determining the modus operandi associated with a specific supply chain metric.

Needless to say, every supply chain setup is better off with Big Data analytics in place and it’s time enterprises start identifying the true potential of this technology which has already been hailed by the customers.

Dealing with Unstructured Data

While analytics caters perfectly to structured data sets with defined fields, it is challenging to pair up Big Data insights with unstructured bits of information. One such example would be monitoring shelf space in real time. This is one aspect of supply chain management that doesn’t come with a predefined layout. Shelf space might vary with time and the only way analytics would work is by implementing sensors for detecting logos and brand names— based on visibility.

Unstructured data shall only make sense if collected in an innovative manner. The idea here is to gauge the sales systems for points of resonance.  With the influx of Big Data logic, supply chain managers have started looking at the underrated data elements— including the likes of forecasting, social media and weather. These elements have a massive impact on sales and the inclusion of analytics is expected to leverage them in the best possible manner.

As with every aspect of industrial proceedings, Big Data is slowly but steadily making inroads into the world of supply chain and logistics. Moreover, even enterprises are finding this technology easy to use with the sudden surge in the volume of unstructured data sets— clubbed with the usual levels of traditional data analysis. Big Data usage minimizes human indulgence and readily focuses on the broader time frame in hand.

Overall, it’s all about using data sets smartly and only Big Data analytics can help enterprises achieve the same.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Key Challenges in Manufacturing Labeling

In old days, labeling was simple. The manufacturer just pasted a piece of paper on packaging with the name of the product. It was simple quick and differentiated one product from another, which had the same packaging. However, today a label is a complex piece of product in itself. Branding, styling, technical information, the regulatory requirement etc must all fit on that little piece of paper, consistently. The complexities in labeling process are increasing at such a fast pace that they are baffling the manufacturers. The amount of critical data that needs to be printed even on a simple barcode label is much more than ever before. The supply chain information such as identification, grouping, shipping, tracking information, the product information such as Name, contents, branding, manufacturer information etc, the regulatory information such as production and expiry dates, ingredients, usage instructions, product warnings, all need to be printed often in a multilingual setting. Today due to its complexity the skill and expertise in manufacturing labeling itself can provide a business edge to the process. That’s because the problems in manufacture labeling can have cascading effects down the whole supply chain. Let’s take a look at few challenges faced by manufacturing labeling industry.

Key Challenges faced by the manufacturing industry.

  • Incorrect labeling There is too much information to be printed in too little space. A lot of this information such as lot number, batch numbers, manufacturing and expiry dates are dynamic in nature. Different variants of same products also have slightly different labeling requirements. With so much going on the shop floor, labeling is not the top priority on production floor manager’s mind who has specific job runs to manage. This means labeling is often working with incorrect data. More than 90% of print jobs are interrupted to reprint the labels due to incorrect data from the client. On average more than 5% of labels are rejected due to incorrect information. This in turns holds up the manufacturing line and causes delay down the chain. In some extreme cases where errors are caught late, just before shipping, the losses due to hold up in the supply chain can be huge. A well-defined process for label design approval and for communicating dynamic labeling data (dates, lot number, the number of labels required) can significantly reduce the incorrect label printing, and reduce the losses attributable to it.
  • Complex customer requirements. Businesses depend on multiple customers and each customer has different requirement for labeling. Failure to meet those requirements can result in fines, deductions or charge backs. Sometimes these fines can be more than the order value itself. Managing varied requirements, including the dynamic data from each customer is truly a complicated juggling process. One way to avoid this problem is to use checklists of the requirements for every label printing job run. The checklist will have all the information required to run the labeling job and should be approved by the customer. A second internal review stage should be added to ensure all data is correct and as per customer requirement. Automated systems should be used to capture the labeling requirements and data. These systems can reduce the typos and missing information that can lead to rejection of a complete lot of labels.
  • Multi lingual support. With increasing globalization, products are sold and consumed in many markets at the same time. This means that the labels need to be printed in multiple languages. This requirement presents its own challenges. The first challenge is in deciding the number of languages to be printed. While it may be sufficient to use the most popular languages across the world, some specific markets need to have labels in their own language only. The second challenge is fitting the required information in all the chosen languages on the same label. Repeating information in different language means there is less space for each language which means the font size is reduced. Smaller font size may render text unreadable, beating the purpose of printing the information. The printer must find a fine balance so that all information is printed in smallest of space and yet comfortably readable. The most important challenge is getting the translation correct. The incorrect translation may incur heavy legal liabilities for the seller and in turn for the labeler. Here too a strong well-defined process to work with translations and designs can help. Obtaining customer’s approval for language translation and other design aspects can reduce the labeller’s liability.
  • Disaster recovery plans. Most of the business have disaster recovery plans. However very few consider labeling in their business continuity plans. Labeling is a critical point in the supply The business won’t sell the products without the labels and labels cannot be printed if disaster has stuck the label manufacturing. The supply chain can come to the grinding halt because there is no recovery or continuity plan for labeling.

 

The label is the face of the brand. This the final point where the brand gets the chance to interact with the customer before he accesses the product. This is where the brand gets to make its most impact. Today’s customer is detail oriented. He can identify small differences and inconsistencies. This means brand consistency is crucial is labeling. The labels can be made to meet different regional or regulatory requirements but they must convey the same brand image on every individual unit. After all the product label is the final and most important touch point between the brand and the customer.