Labelling survey reveals deep inefficiencies

By Phil Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Photo - Stacey Newman/iStock
Photo - Stacey Newman/iStock

Related tags: Supply chain, Supply chain management, Label

Almost half of all manufacturers have reported production downtime resulting from barcode labelling problems, according to a new survey.

The poll found that 47% of respondents across several industries experienced "significant and costly disruptions"​ to their manufacturing process leading to lost revenue.

The findings are particularly pertinent to the pharma industry which is facing the challenge of complying with increasingly stringent barcoding requirements, including item-level serialisation to meet supply chain security legislation in many markets including Europe​, the US​ and China​.

"Today the amount of critical data that needs to be printed on a barcode label far surpasses what was considered to be sufficient in the past,"​ according to a report on the findings of the survey, which was commissioned by enterprise software company Loftware.

"From identification to grouping, shipping, locating and tracking products that flow up­stream and downstream in the supply chain, there is a great deal of information, often in multiple languages, that needs to be included on a 'simple' label,"​ it notes.

Customer requirements

All told, 84% of respondents said meeting customer specific requirements was the single most challenging aspect of labelling today, with regulatory requirements cited by 41%.

When asked what other requirements organisations found to be the most difficult to meet, almost three quarters listed product specific requirements and around 45% cited label print speed. Once again, for pharma that is particularly significant as serialisation is known to have an impact on both line speed and reject rates.

The need to address print speed is apparent, with almost all respondents reporting that they have to interrupt operations to reprint labels, and half saying this is due to incorrect label data. Additionally, 55% said they are still generating labels through manual processes, making it difficult to address variability in labelling.

Fines and Penalties

Finally, almost a third of participants said they faced fines and penalties associated with mislabelling, while 10% said the problems had prevented them from entering new markets.

"One of the rising challenges for most manufacturing organisations, especially those with complex supply chains, is how to manage barcode labelling on an enterprise level to ensure supply chain accuracy, speed, and cost effectiveness,"​ said Josh Roffman, Loftware's  vice president of product management.

"Mislabelling, inefficient offline labelling processes, a myriad of redundant and unnecessary label designs, and poor integration of multiple labelling data sources add up to wasted labour resources, customer fines, returns, delayed shipments, and ultimately loss of business,"​ he added.

The survey was conducted in approximately 175 professionals from a range of global companies.

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