Industry TalkRegular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.
It’s all on the label? How e-labelling can make sure it is!
Product labelling can often be considered an afterthought by companies. But for most it is an essential that must be accurate to the last percentage of content. Traditional approaches to labelling designing stamped, attached or etched labels are often a drain on resources, requiring a lot of head-scratching as to just how much information can fit onto a label let alone what the label should say!
Used in place of traditional labelling processes, e-labelling is quick and efficient alternative process for providing compliance information to authorities and consumers. This electronic method allows the important essential information to be both created and displayed electronically, saving organisations money and time while removing the constraints imposed on operations by traditional labelling systems.
Accessible, cost-effective and secure: the benefits of adopting e-labelling
For consumers, e-labelling provides both highly accessible and more detailed information than a traditional label, while manufacturers benefit from a reduced carbon footprint through reduced waste, a reduction in production costs and more room for design innovation to promote their brand.
But the speed and accuracy of using an e-labelling solution also enables manufacturers to bring products to market sooner, make changes quickly and easily to the labelling if required and to deal with a growing concern – helps prevent counterfeit products from reaching the market.
Implementing an e-labelling process requires preparation
Let’s look at how a business can put in place an e-labelling process which both meets regulatory requirements and fits with organisational practices.
First is familiarisation with the shipping regulations of countries the organisation intends to ship products to. Not all countries will allow a full switch to e-labelling. Understanding these requirements will save businesses both time and money in the early development, implementation and integration stages.
Integration of features such as QR codes and barcodes into product packaging requires artwork and labelling to be consolidated and managed within a single centralised solution – and now the technology is here to support that.
Label management technology provides a solution
All-in-one label management solutions offer businesses an efficient way to adopt an e-labelling policy. These cloud-based systems support seamless integration with existing assets and internal systems, allowing artwork to be generated from fragments and components swiftly while also ensuring regulatory compliance and full traceability for the entire supply chain.
Features such as QR and barcodes can also be quickly added, with enhanced visibility features to make it easy for businesses to see which artworks will be affected by any changes within a matter of seconds.
Take note of e-labelling best practices – are other companies doing it better?
At this stage of implementation, businesses should take note of how other companies are handling their e-labelling processes, with an emphasis on identifying aspects that are relevant to their organisation and where tailored adjustments would have to be made.
Develop policies which are within the scope of best practice and requirements. At this early stage, businesses should only put in place the minimum requirements needed to achieve company goals. The implementation of additional requirements can be implemented as needed.
A pilot run will identify issues ahead of full integration
An optional pilot run stage is highly recommended to iron out kinks prior to a full rollout which involves a small test run on a small selection of products for a set time period. In this phase businesses can analyse each step of the process and adjust as needed while the project is small-scale.
Assuming any kinks have been addressed during the pilot run, organisations can now implement a full-scale integration. They should ensure training is implemented for all staff affected by the new e-labelling processes and understand a learning curve may be present as employees adjust to the new way of shipping and labelling products.
After integration has taken place, it is important for businesses to regularly track and benchmark e-labelling policies, implementing changes as needed. Frequent review of these policies will aid businesses in ensuring they remain effective and at the forefront of industry.
Manage product labelling every step of the way
It is vital that businesses identify which products will fall under the e-labelling policy. Are all products to be included or a small percentage? Businesses should determine which products could be included under the policy in the near future and what criteria will be set for determining if new products will be incorporated moving forward. Any effective e-labelling process must involve technology that is highly configurable and can support product amends and additions at any stage.
Determining what information and how much should be on an e-label is another priority. As a bare minimum, an e-label should include the same information required on a traditional label. Businesses should note that repeating information already found on a product’s packaging will not make an e-label redundant.
But less than three steps for access to information
As a rule, users should be able to access information they require in less than three steps. Clear directions for how to access e-label information should be provided to authorities and consumers.
Businesses should also account for applicable domestic and international labelling requirements, adopting only the requirements that are necessary to meet these stipulations.
Reap the rewards of consolidated and digitised label management
A critical step for businesses working to implement an e-labelling policy is to adopt a comprehensive labelling and artwork solution. Secure and innovative cloud-based labelling and artwork platforms are available which offer businesses extensive usability, scalability, and performance all while ensuring strong security. With the growth in consumer demand for traceability and increasing regulations, these platforms are starting to become essential as they can ensure label compliance on both a national and international scale and in both digital and physical supply chains. An added bonus is that they also help reduce the time products take to reach the market! That’s a win-win for businesses and consumers alike.