Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Barcode Labeling and Do More with Less

(Article courtesy of TEKLYNX)

With what's happening in the world right now, and the many operational changes that manufacturers are facing daily, organizations are seeking ways to do more with less. In the current state that manufacturing is in – lower operational headcount and unpredictable production volume – becoming lean is a necessity.

Barcode labeling is a critical component of the supply chain and is often overlooked when evaluating areas of the business to eliminate waste. By applying lean manufacturing principles to your barcode labeling environment, you create a “lean labeling environment,” which will enable you to gain efficiency, flexibility, scalability, accuracy, and reliability; benefits that will last through the pandemic and carry your company into the recovery period.


Efficiency

Label samples to help users create compliant labels

Time is of the essence to us all, especially now, and creating labels from scratch can be time-consuming and overwhelming for label designers, which is why label samples can be leveraged for a turn-key start. Whether you are labeling hazardous chemicals, medical devices, food products, or automotive parts, leverage label samples to get a head start on labeling compliance and label design.

Trigger printing from a device through PortWatch

Removing manual steps in your printing process is a sure-fire way to gain efficiency in your labeling environment. For labels that need to incorporate a variable weight, leverage barcode label software that has the ability for a connected scale to capture and send the weight to your barcode software and variably populate that on your labels. The same can be done with other connected devices like barcode scanners. The action of scanning a barcode on a work order for example, can trigger the print job of barcode labels and reduce wasteful steps in your printing process.

Print automation eliminates manual processes

Eliminate the need for manual data entry, reduce errors, and simplify your printing process by utilizing print automation. Print automation can be defined as, “a centralized technology that replaces the manual process of triggering a print job within a labeling environment.” With a print automation solution, you can enable printing directly out of your ERP, WMS, or other business systems, including custom applications.

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Flexibility

Licensing options give you the flexibility you need

  • Perpetual & Subscription Licenses

Every business is different, which is why having the choice of the right barcode software license option can help to alleviate complex license management, version updates, and various payment options. When selecting a barcode labeling software provider, partner with a company that offers flexible options like perpetual licenses for a one-time purchase as well as subscription licenses with easy annual renewals.

  • Network Licenses

As companies grow and add label design or print users to their environment, many times additional single-user licenses will be installed, resulting in a large number of licenses to manage with different license types and associated benefits, renewal schedules, and pricing. Multiple single-user licenses also mean restriction with label file sharing across machines. For organizations with more than one labeling software user at a time, consider network licensing that allows for labeling software to be installed on a server and enables easy label file sharing and updates across users.

  • Virtual Machine (VM) Licensing

With the increased shift to remote work, many organizations need to implement labeling software on a virtual machine (VM). Ensure that your labeling software partner has this option, and its software is fully tested in a VM environment so that unnecessary downtime or issues don't occur.

  • Integrate with Multiple Business Systems for stress-free labeling

By integrating your label printing system with your ERP system, such as Oracle and SAP, you can expect to minimize errors, increase print speeds, and maximize your ROI. Your business system already holds the variable data such as product information, lot numbers, shipping addresses, packing lists, order numbers, and more. By systematically sending this data to the right label template at the right time, labeling becomes an efficient and cost-effective process.

Scalability

Print to an unlimited number of printers at no extra cost

You shouldn't have to pay additional fees to use your label design software on each printer. Instead, you can utilize your barcode label design software and print to unlimited printers using a single-user license or multi-user network licensing option. As your company grows, your printer inventory has the possibility of increasing – by utilizing barcode label software that is licensed per user rather than per printer, you minimize the risk of paying for more your software as you grow, and prevent exceeding your budget by having to pay to add additional printers. This sets you and your company up for success by keeping budgeting lean and predictable.

Print documents & labels from the same application for seamless integration

If you use the same data for your documents (like order receipts, bills of materials, or packing lists) and labels, moving document printing into your label design software makes sense logistically. You can use label and document printing standardization by allowing multiple database records to be on one file. That means, when new documents or labels come into your database, your software can seamlessly integrate.

Cloud-hosted label printing ensures label security

In today’s world, organizations are choosing label printing solutions that are hosted in the cloud or that integrate with cloud-hosted platforms, so they don't have to worry about managing and maintaining infrastructure for a local server. You can secure your label printing anywhere in the world, without the hassle of hosting local servers, as well as limiting overhead costs. With the ability to centralize the control of label printing at multiple locations and cutting-edge security, your company can scale up seamlessly now and into the future.

Accuracy

Enforce user roles within your team

Using forms in your label printing process can separate print users from the design interface to ensure data is formatted correctly and no unintended edits are made. Form Designer is a tool that helps enforce user roles within your team, distinguishing between the label designer and the person that clicks print. This reduces manual steps and label waste for you and your company. Form Designer is unique in the sense that the print user doesn't even have to open the label design software in order to print labels.

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Print directly from your business system to limit human interaction

Set up your barcode label printing system to monitor a business system database, populate variable data at print time, and automatically print barcode labels – without any human interaction necessary. Having your barcode label printing process fully automated with your business system means less time spent interacting with your label designer.

Print on-demand labels to eliminate label waste

Designing and printing barcode labels in house and on-demand allows designers to create a smart label template that incorporates variable data & images, so you can design and print labels as you need them. Printing labels on-demand eliminates inventory of pre-printed label stock and associated label waste due to misprints, which can result in total label cost reduction.

Reliability

Native embedded printer drivers for WYSIWYG label printing

In the barcode label printing world, a common headache is printing a label and finding that it wasn’t what you saw on screen. The printer driver is what acts as the handshake between your barcode software and your printer, and if you’re not leveraging a printer driver that is native to the printer manufacturer and model you’re using, odds are you’ll have a headache too, and will have to print those labels over. That’s why it’s important that you leverage native embedded printer drivers to ensure What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) label printing. Native printer drivers also allow you to exploit the resident features of the printer and lets you rely on your software and printer to work seamlessly together and get the job done right.

Customer support is there to help you work better

When it comes to choosing your barcode labeling software, one of the first things you may think about is their customer support. You'll want to save time by using customer support that answers their phones live versus waiting in an automated queue. Or, if there’s a critical labeling issue where help is needed immediately, there’s no panic thinking that no one is there to help you due to a small support staff. By choosing the right customer support for you, you’ll be able to save time and sanity knowing you’re taken care of.

Lean on labeling experts

Knowledge is power, and when it comes to establishing a lean labeling environment, leverage the knowledge of labeling experts who can help you evaluate and consult on ways to reduce waste, cut costs, and save valuable time in your labeling processes.

Whether you need to meet an industry regulation, a company directive, or a customer requirement, lean on labeling experts to design smart and compliant labels for you. Look for a partner that provides individualized and group training sessions based on your application and designed to meet your labeling requirements. Up to date label samples designed in accordance with industry regulations help organizations start printing labels faster and give peace of mind knowing that designing barcode labels from scratch is one less thing to worry about.

No one can be an expert at everything, so it’s important to work with partners that you can rely on and trust. Lean on them to provide training and guidance on best practices.

Evaluating your labeling environment with a lean manufacturing lens and implementing lean labeling strategies and best practices will help shave valuable time off your label design and print process, save IT and maintenance costs, and give you a better return on investment. Learn more about lean labeling with TEKLYNX’ Achieving Lean Labeling Success eBook.

ABOUT TRAVIS WAYNE

teklynx travis wayne

TEKLYNX International Travis Wayne is the Label Design Product Manager at TEKLYNX. Travis applies his 15+ years of IT and health sciences experience to empower businesses to streamline operations and barcode better by applying software and technology. He works to continually improve TEKLYNX' strategic planning, product and project management principles, and cross-functional communications. Today, more than 750,000 companies in over 170 countries trust TEKLYNX integrated barcode and RFID label design products and the people behind its solutions to make barcode labeling operations efficient, accurate, secure and industry compliant. TEKLYNX’ barcode labeling software solutions have become a part of an integrated supply chain solution that make companies work better.