The term lean manufacturing is not new. It refers to the practice of doing more with less by employing lean thinking. Lean manufacturing involves never-ending efforts to eliminate or reduce muda (Japanese for waste, or any activity that consumes resources without adding value) in design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service processes.
In the past, lean manufacturing initiatives were typically associated with Fortune 100 companies, but in today’s competitive landscape and economic climate, companies of all sizes are looking for ways to create efficiencies and reduce costs. How? By increasing their focus on a streamlined workflow: getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity, while minimizing waste and easily adapting to changes in demand.
If this process seems complicated and overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. While some manufacturers may not be able to implement every available lean manufacturing strategy, they can start with barcode software – a small step for a large impact to the bottom line.
1. Reduce operational overhead costs through improved efficiencies with barcode automation and label designs
a. Lower operational overhead through automation
b. Reduce development time, with an equal decrease in label costs
c. Accelerate product search time through consistent and familiar label markings
Barcode labels support real-time data capture and monitoring of an item’s movement throughout the supply chain. This allows automation of costly manual processes. One customer reduced development time as much as 75%, with an equal decrease in label costs throughout its supply chain, simply by incorporating print automation into its processes.
Barcode label design software
TEKLYNX product identification software offers label design software solutions for enterprise-wide and stand-alone applications. The barcode software packages provide advanced features for diverse label stock.
Color-coded label designs also have reduced product search times. These labels improve users’ abilities to easily identify inventory and find the location of specific items at all times. Color-coding and other process-related design enhancements reduce errors as the product moves through the supply chain. Color, along with text and variable data, enhances the visual aspects of a label template to improve accuracy and streamline workflows.
Internally and externally, color can ensure accurate handling and selection of packaged products by providing specific information without adding excessive text to the label. A colored label also aids in traceability, promotes safety, and increases operational efficiency through consistent and familiar marking.
To incorporate color onto product labels, a color printer must be leveraged, and the software and hardware selections must guarantee what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) printing – from onscreen design to the printed label.
2. Reduce errors resulting in waste and returned product
a. Increase label accuracy through database integration
b. Reduce the number of expensive customer returns
c. Enforce a standardized process by using secure template access
Some companies are shackled by a confusing end-user interface and a lack of integration between labeling software and business systems. If this is the case, numerous errors and excessive time probably have been put in the labeling process. Another TEKLYNX client that implemented labeling automation quickly saw a 50% reduction in labeling errors and an equal decrease in expensive customer returns.
Automating label creation processes with database/ERP integration saves time and reduces the risk of human error and waste. Barcode labeling software solutions allow for the integration of data, no matter the source. This connectivity can be achieved through a comprehensive list of integration options to link to popular enterprise software packages, including Oracle and SAP. Once the systems are integrated, data will automatically be pulled into the corresponding data field on the label design based on the defined logic – for example, the part number searched within the system. Users can also print directly from a business system using print automation labeling technology.
Some barcode labeling software solutions include features that give users the ability to create custom forms for accurate data entry and to enforce standardization. Custom form visual designing tools allow rapidly built front-end data entry and label printing applications. This feature should offer an easy-to-use interface, reducing the time it takes to become familiar with the application while also reducing manual errors. A well-appointed software system will offer valuable features, including label and printer type selection, print preview, page and printer settings, database connections, multiple screen/form application, pre-defined values, and data control.
3. Promote and maintain compliance standards to avoid penalties and a bad reputation
a. Reduce the risk and costs associated with non-compliant labels
b. Create efficiencies and heightened level of security and label traceability from design to print
c. Utilize automation to reduce quantity of label templates and associated overhead costs
In order to protect business from the risks associated with noncompliance, leverage easy-to-use label design and management software solutions that support external regulations and standards such as GS1, Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), and 21 CFR Part 11.
Rather than creating hundreds of different labels for the hundreds of different products, create completely flexible label templates with variable data fields that can be used for the current product line as well as proposed products. Variable data can be imported from a database to appropriate fields within a label template, resulting in less manual input and fewer potential errors. Variable data fields can be used to update generic label information along with the specific label data required by medical industry standards and regulations.
Label templates also make updating labels less cumbersome. Assume a new regulation passes, requiring all products to have a label that contains a color image of the product. If there are hundreds of label files, the amount of time it will take to execute this project could be considerable. If label templates are implemented, adding the image object to the product labels will take far less time and effort. Aside from saving time, templates allow users to stay on top of medical device and healthcare industry regulations and ensure all requirements are met prior to the compliance deadlines.
Small changes to a company’s labeling environment can result in a big impact to the bottom line, allowing benefits of lean manufacturing, regardless of the size of the business.
If lean manufacturing is a focus area for an organization, implementing a barcode labeling software solution is the perfect place to start. The project will not require an excessive amount of unforecasted resources. The right software choice can improve efficiencies, promote compliance, reduce errors and waste, and even eliminate unnecessary headcount.
When selecting a solution, choose label design software that can easily adapt to changing labeling complexity, can adapt to current and new regulations, and can offer a business the service and support needed to implement lean manufacturing initiatives. Many barcode labeling software solution developers offer multiple licensing options (single user vs. network, perpetual vs. subscription, and so on) to fit a company’s environment and budget. Do research, ask questions, and demo solutions to make sure you find the right solution for the organization.
About the author: Nick Recht is the enterprise product manager at TEKLYNX Americas and can be reached at 414.837.4765 or firstname.lastname@example.org.