Technology for boosting operational efficiency is becoming ever more critical to manufacturers and logistics companies intent on streamlining the supply chain and modernizing warehouse operations.
The ongoing pandemic, rising e-commerce activity, global conflicts and longstanding infrastructure issues are driving businesses to seek ways to save time, reduce costs and improve accuracy. Challenges include:
Innovative Labeling Technologies
Labeling processes for inventory, asset management, receiving, shipping and pricing have typically been labor-intensive, error-ridden, and time-consuming. That’s because conventional computer workstation-based label printing processes often require employees to correctly follow several steps each time they want to print a label.
First, workers need to physically go to a computer, which might not be conveniently located. Next, they have to open the necessary software, search for the required data, manually enter information, and attempt to properly position the information for printing. Finally, they can print the label. This approach offers ample opportunity for human error, especially if the label contains multiple lines of information. If it doesn’t print correctly, look as expected or is inaccurate, it’s back to square one.
Automated on-demand technologies such as scan-to-print and barcode label design allow businesses of all sizes to streamline and modernize warehouse operations.
With a scan-to-print application, employees simply scan the barcode associated with the label, then print the label with variable data included. No workstation, laptop or mobile device is needed. Integrated design solutions allow easy creation and customization of the label templates, further streamlining the process. For example, manufacturers can mark products with date, serial number, model number, barcode, QR code and other data, while warehouses or third-party logistics (3PL) providers can print barcoded labels with data and time goods are received, or post-date with a reorder, due date or expiration date.
Strategies for Improving Labeling Processes
By speeding the creation and printing of accurate barcoded labels, automated systems boost productivity, efficiency and profitability. Following are seven strategies for transforming processes and driving fast return on investment, from inventory management to the receiving dock.
Assess your current labeling flow. Inbound goods need receipt labels, bulk breakdown labels, item labeling and return labels. Is your current label creation process simple and logical? Where are there gaps or extended waiting periods? What causes these slowdowns? For example, are they related to labeling technology, poor printer placement, inefficient processes, or a combination of factors?
Update and simplify label creation. Too often, warehouses continue to rely on labeling software from the last decade or software that’s no longer supported. Newer solutions or the latest version of current software allow you to act more nimbly and efficiently. With the right software and printers, you can boost speed, compliance, accuracy and data security. Design label software with intuitive user interfaces and built-in wizards makes it easy to generate new barcodes or design new labels, and saves time by helping users get it right the first time. The software also frees up costly IT staff so they can focus on performing more value-added tasks.
Streamline label file and printing access. In the face of increasing regulatory compliance standards, faster time to market expectations, and the frequent need to add or change suppliers due to sourcing issues, browser-based label file access and printing for supplier networks makes speed and compliance much faster and easier.
Empower employees. End users can deploy label printers that are fast, reliable, intuitive to use, easy to maintain, and offer true WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) printing. Switching media should be fast and simple, reducing downtime and frustration. And learning to use the system shouldn’t require extensive training.
Choose the right equipment. Invest in printers that are durable, powerful and versatile. The ability to produce a variety of high-resolution labels with barcode scan integrity at high speeds is also key.
Take advantage of centralized licensing. Standardize, consolidate and synchronize licenses to lighten the workload for your IT team.
Partner with professional services teams. Extend your limited human resources with expert help in label creation, label file conversion, installation, training and custom interface development.
Software and Hardware Features
The best barcode label printing system is one that aligns with your specific needs, from both a software and hardware perspective. And it’s critical to ensure that the software and hardware solutions you invest in work together seamlessly.
The right software includes the following features:
Hardware features include:
Continuing supply chain challenges have intensified pressure on manufacturers and 3PLs to streamline and modernize warehouse operations to stay competitive. Investing in innovative, state-of-the-art barcode and label printing systems helps save time, reduce costs and boost accuracy, enabling businesses to more efficiently keep pace with unrelenting customer demand in today’s uniquely challenging environment.
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