2020 has been challenging for dairy, and labeling is partly to blame. While the world has been gripped with a pandemic, US dairy recalls reached the highest since 2018’s end-of-year and critically, one-third of those recalls were a result of mislabeled products with undeclared allergens (Stericycle Expert Solutions).
Labeling should help organizations track supply chains, manage operations and inform consumers. However, as new regulations and recalls have shown, labeling has continued to be a pain point and a barrier impacting speed-to-market for organizations around the world. When labeling becomes a hindrance and not a help, clearly it’s time to move past legacy obstacles and adopt new strategies such as a modern cloud-based approach.
Moving past legacy challenges
For years, many have relied on outdated labeling processes. These methods include locally managing labeling templates instead of centrally storing them, engaging in manual or paper-based quality assurance methods, and making prolonged efforts to hard code label templates.
Far too commonly, these problems result from disparate legacy systems that make the labeling process sprawling and decentralized. For instance, legacy environments may rely on many different labeling applications across various facilities, which can lead to inconsistent formatting, creating the same label many times, and the need to procure more or use different systems and printers.
To help with these issues, centralizing and digitizing labeling in the cloud can make supply chains safer and more efficient. This is especially important for dairy retailers with many locations across the country or the globe.
The benefits of modern labeling
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to streamlining labeling, and organizations should consider their own unique needs and challenges when assessing how to modernize their labeling. But, in my opinion, every organization should consider these key benefits that can greatly enhance their operations:
- Anywhere collaboration capabilities: Remote work has never been more essential. With cloud-based label management systems, onsite presence is not required to change, troubleshoot or design labels because any approved remote user can quickly access a central location to print and alter labels from anywhere.
- Unite direct marking and label devices on a single platform: To accommodate various types and makes of printers, labeling should seamlessly integrate with existing solutions and hardware to enable secure, on-demand printing, no matter the printer manufacturer.
- Integrate marking devices and labeling with MES and ERP: Organizations should implement a standardized integration with the manufacturing execution system (MES) present at every production site. It is also advisable to establish a single source of truth. This enables food manufacturers to ensure correct product info and expiry dates. It also helps them eradicate manual data entry errors and remove the costs from reworking labels or discarding perishable inventory.
- Automate workflows and standardize labeling: Rather than fumbling through various databases, modern systems can provide centrally available premade label templates and a centralized virtual location to track system updates. Many workflow elements can also be automated, including which label to print for certain customers, which language works for a region, and many other factors. Providing one location to track labels and automating workflows reduces human error, improves quality assurance and allows organizations to quickly customize workflows.
- Make labeling simpler: It will unburden IT and save time if a label management system has an easy-to-use interface that enables any authorized user to quickly and remotely update or design labels for any printer or model in minutes, without the need to code or wait for laborious changes to be made.
The time to streamline labeling is now
No one wants to face a recall, especially when it puts consumers in danger. And when one-third of dairy recalls are the result of a bad label, labeling can’t be left as an afterthought. For many, this means modernizing their systems and taking a cloud-based approach to streamline operations today while future-proofing their business for tomorrow.