By Jenna Wagner, Global Marketing Director, TEKLYNX Americas
Sustainability is no longer a fringe trend. According to Harvard Business Review, “virtually all of the world’s largest companies now issue a sustainability report and set goals; more than 2,000 companies have set a science-based carbon target; and about one-third of Europe’s largest public companies have pledged to reach net zero by 2050.” Companies shouldn’t rely on “greenwashing” to attach to the sustainability trend; consumers and investors are demanding real action.
Businesses have countless ways to pursue sustainability, from recycling programs to natural resource stewardship. Sustainable barcode labeling contributes to a business’ sustainability program by reducing resources used for everyday processes.
Reduce resource use with lean labeling
Sustainable barcode labeling and lean labeling go hand-in-hand. Lean labeling helps reduce waste within the label printing system without sacrificing productivity. By practicing lean labeling, companies can cut their barcode labeling process down and focus on what is truly required.
The lean labeling process is a simple, repeatable five-step process to make your barcode labeling system efficient and sustainable.
- Identify waste
- Analyze the root cause
- Solve the root cause
- Measure results
Label print automation to reduce waste
Automating label printing is the most impactful way to reduce waste in your label process. Depending on your current labeling process, there are many ways to automate label printing and reduce wasted resources for greater sustainability.
Ordering pre-printed labels?
Pre-printed labels cause the most physical waste in label printing. Pre-printed labels take time to be fulfilled and usually require a minimum order quantity. Companies that order pre-printed labels are stuck storing rolls of labels taking up valuable facility space. Pre-printed labels are destined for the trash when branding, artwork, or labeling regulations change. Many traditional label papers have plastic-based liners that aren’t recyclable, so it ends up in a landfill.
Solution: On-demand label printing
On-demand label printing eliminates the need to rely on a vendor for pre-printed labels. Instead, your staff uses label design software to create and print your labels. Changes can be made quickly, so production can continue without waiting for new labels to arrive. This is a huge advantage when launching new or updated products, including re-releasing eco-friendly products or using recyclable packaging.
Printing on-demand but entering data manually?
Manual data entry is a labeling error waiting to happen. Whether a typo occurs on a label print run of 10 or 10,000, those labels become physical waste.
Solution: Smart label templates connected to data sources
Eliminate manual data entry from your labeling process by creating smart label templates with variable fields connected to data sources. Some examples include:
- Database Connections: Connect fields on your label to columns in your business database to populate accurate, real-time data
- Date and time stamps: Automatically populate the current date and time, eliminating inconsistent date formats across labels.
- Data validation: Use data validation to ensure label data is properly entered. Set character limits, require only numbers, and more.
Spending too much time opening and printing labels?
Even with smart label templates, your staff may still be searching for label files in the label design application. For a high-volume company, these extra minutes add up to days of wasted time.
Solution: Label print automation
Label print automation software runs in the background and is connected to your existing business system (ERP, WMS, etc.). The print automation software waits for a trigger from your business system, which can be a new database record or an exported file. The print automation software reads the request and prints the labels correctly without human interaction.
Label design process to prevent labeling errors
Labeling errors cause wasted label stock, packaging, and wasted time and energy. To prevent labeling errors, tighten the control around label template creation and approval. A paperless label approval process reduces the risk of labeling errors, saving time and resources, and leading to more sustainable operations.
Steps to implement a paperless label approval process
- Determine who approves labels. The process might be different for a completely new label versus an existing label that’s been updated.
- Define the order of approval steps. Does the product team need to verify the data before marketing approves the design? Should quality control be the final step?
- Give authorized users appropriate access by setting permissions and passwords. Assign design permissions to as few users as possible to avoid unintended edits to label templates.
- Implement paperless label approval software to centralize label storage and manage the approval process.
Centralized label management
Sustainability and efficiency go together. Here are four ways a centralized label management system makes your barcode labeling environment more efficient.
- Consolidate and standardize labeling software to eliminate individual local software installations at each location and workstation.
- Utilize print automation and paperless label approval software to reduce the risk of labeling errors.
- Host your software in the cloud to eliminate the need for on-site hardware.
- Reduce on-site servers to decrease your electricity and the company’s carbon footprint.
Implement sustainable barcode labeling
Sustainability can no longer be an afterthought for companies in today’s market. Start by taking small steps towards sustainable barcode labeling that will impact your company’s sustainability initiatives and be sure to include barcode labeling in your sustainability plans and budgets.
Learn more at teklynx.com.