Barcode labeling is mission-critical in global supply chains to ensure that the right product gets to the right place at the right time. Supply chain labeling is becoming more complex as customer demands increase and companies are faced with getting products out the door faster and more efficiently. In a recent survey to TEKLYNX end users and partners, five common goals emerged among companies to achieve greater labeling efficiency, accuracy, and compliance.
- Print faster
- Reduce errors
- Do it the same way
- Prepare for future growth
- Make it easy
“No one can be an expert on everything, so it’s important to work with partners and vendors that you can trust. Lean on them to provide guidance on best practices”
Goal #1: Print Faster
Faster print speed is a common goal from small and medium sized organizations to large global enterprises. Some methods to increase print speed involve how labels are designed, but the most effective way to spend less time printing is to streamline label printing processes. More organizations are looking to increase efficiencies and implement automation by leveraging enterprise label management solutions to print faster.
Labeling Best Practices to Print Faster
- Optimize software to printer communication
Leverage a labeling solution that has native embedded printer drivers to ensure true WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) label printing. TEKLYNX has invested in over 3,000 native embedded printer drivers to ensure optimized printer communication. With WYSIWYG label printing, time isn’t wasted because of redesigning and reprinting, you just print and go.
- Utilize forms in your software
Customizable label printing forms give users full control to develop ideal printing processes within their labeling environments. Forms allows for the separation of design users from print users which helps to reduce errors while creating efficiencies. Enforcing data entry rules within print forms ensures that label data is formatted correctly 100% of the time resulting in less time designing labels and faster time to print.
- Print directly from the internet
Some of the most efficient printing processes don’t even involve opening the label design software. When the user doesn’t have to launch a standalone application, time is shaved off the process. A browser-based-printing interface can be leveraged from anywhere in the world and enables efficient supplier-network label printing.
Goal #2: Reduce Errors
Labeling errors can be extremely costly, and even trigger recalls. They are not only detrimental to safety but can also add huge unforeseen costs.
Labeling Best Practices to Reduce Errors
- Create database-driven label templates
Human errors are a common culprit for incorrect labels. Manually entering data, text, or images on labels often lead to mistakes. Leverage data that resides within an existing ERP or other business system to create smart database-driven label templates to eliminate error-prone manual labeling.
- Data validation
By using data validation in a labeling process, users are forced to enter data in a specific format. For example, a date formatted as MM/DD/YYYY or a phone number formatted as (###) ###-####. Additionally, users can set label templates to stop printing if the data cannot be validated, in order to reduce waste and time spent re-printing labels.
- Maintain records of the label design and printing process
Many industries are regulated to enforce labeling workflows and ensure that the same process is followed every time a label is generated. Enforcing a label approval process helps to ensure incorrect labels never enter production and keep detailed records of every label that is printed. Label security and traceability software gives full visibility into label design, storage, and printing to support compliance with industry regulations like FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and FSMA and supports internal process requirements.
Goal #3: Do it the Same Way
Whether it’s an entry-level employee or a department director, there’s likely been pain when each team member has their own way of doing things. It’s hard to communicate, challenging to train, and crucial information can get lost.
Labeling Best Practices to Do It the Same Way
- Define user roles
User roles are straightforward and are the key to the success for standardizing labeling processes. Accountability is distributed by defining who designs, approves, and prints within a labeling environment.
- Set up an electronic approval process
This approval process must be agreed upon and enforced, or else it won’t be effective. A common labeling process is: a product manager designs the first draft of the label. A compliance specialist approves or denies it for regulation compliance. A marketing manager reviews the label for appropriate branding. Then, a production line worker prints the label. Establish a labeling approval process that fits your company’s structure and needs.
- Integrate labeling software with hardware
By integrating hardware with labeling software, it’s easy to automate different steps of the labeling process. Collecting data from a port via a scanner, keyboard, or scale, can trigger the print request, or automatically update business system data. Removing manual steps from the labeling process takes out any inconsistencies in individual label design and printing processes throughout the organization.
Goal #4: Prepare for Future Growth
Every business strives for growth. Adding new product lines, increasing production volume, and expanding to new markets all introduce new challenges to a labeling environment. By planning for the future, TEKLYNX can ensure that when the time comes – you’ll be ready.
Labeling Best Practices to Prepare for Future Growth
- Utilize multi-user-network licensing
A network license is installed on one server, and is pushed out to each computer, taking out the need to install and update each license on each individual workstation. Upgrades and renewals happen on the network too – making it so there’s no need to update each computer individually, eliminating work for IT. It’s important to partner with a labeling software provider whose software can scale with your organization as business processes become more complex and labeling needs increase.
- Print documents and labels from the same application
If companies utilize the same data for documents and labels, moving document printing into the label design software makes sense. Advanced features like GridField in TEKLYNX CODESOFT enables label and document printing standardization by allowing multiple database records to be on one file, saving time by printing from one application.
- Stay up to date across the board
Keeping the operating system, hardware, and software up to date with current technology allows companies to continue functioning effectively. Something to remember is that when an update happens to any hardware or software application in your business’ technology environment, it affects all other ancillary systems too.
Goal #5: I want it to be easy
All the best practices in the world are useless if they’re difficult for users to follow. Ease of use is crucial for any business software solution. Not only does ease of use relieve headaches, it makes training easier and errors less likely.
Labeling Best Practices to Make it Easy
- Centralize label file storage
If the label storage location is unorganized or overflowing with individual label files, there’s a way to make the labeling process easier – simply store all the label files in one centralized location. To accomplish this, companies can choose to utilize a network license. A central repository for label files is another option, which prevents storing label files on separate machines as well as managing to and updating different label files.
- Standardize onto one brand & version of software
It can be frustrating when a team member with an older version of software is trying to open a label file saved in the newer version. By standardizing barcode labeling software within the organization to the same brand and version, this problem can be avoided completely.
- Print directly from your business system
There are a variety of ways to integrate software with a business system, but each integration method provides further ease of use. In addition to making printing easy, ERP and other business system integration minimizes errors while providing the fastest print speeds possible. Print automation software, like TEKLYNX SENTINEL, makes ERP integration easy.
To learn more, visit www.teklynx.com.
About the author:
Jenna Wagner is the Global Marketing and Sales Director at TEKLYNX. She leverages her extensive background of marketing and sales strategy, planning and execution to ensure the world knows the story of TEKLYNX and how we help organizations Barcode Better.
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