In the intricate network of modern supply chain management, accuracy, compliance, and quality control are foundational pillars. During our supply chain projects implementation at Propel Apps for clients such as Amazon, we have observed a seismic shift in how organizations approach these elements, with label printing being at the forefront of this transformation. The latest trends in supply chain label printing point towards a more agile, responsive, and efficient process. In this blog, we will explore some of the key developments shaping this vital area.
Key for Accuracy, Compliance, and Quality Control
Labels are more than just identifiers; they are the linchpins of accuracy and compliance in the supply chain. They carry crucial information that ensures products are stored correctly, handled properly, and shipped to the right destination. In industries such as pharmaceuticals, health care, aerospace, and food and beverage, where compliance with regulations is non-negotiable, labels provide traceability and a means to enforce quality control. The data embedded in these labels, whether it’s a simple barcode or a complex QR code, must be precise to avoid costly errors and regulatory infractions.
Mobile Device to Mobile Printer: Cutting the Cord with WMS Workbench
One of the most notable trends is the direct communication between mobile devices and mobile printers. Traditionally, printing a label might have required a command from a Warehouse Management System (WMS) workbench or an interaction with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system like SAP S/4 HANA EWM or Oracle EBS WMS. But now, the emerging preference is for a solution that doesn’t rely on these systems. Workers on the warehouse floor are looking for immediacy and simplicity—they want to scan an item with a mobile device and print the corresponding label on the spot, without any delays or middle steps.
Not Dependent on ERP Systems: A Decentralized Approach
Decentralization is key in the evolution of label printing. While ERP systems are central to the orchestration of supply chain activities, there is a growing trend towards processes that operate independently. This move towards decentralized label printing means that operations are less disrupted by ERP system upgrades or downtimes. It also allows for a more distributed approach to printing, which can increase redundancy and resilience in the supply chain.
Printing QR Code Labels: The Rise of Data-Dense Formats
QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in label printing due to their ability to store vast amounts of data. Unlike traditional barcodes, QR codes can encapsulate detailed product information, serial numbers, and even URLs to product manuals or compliance certificates. They are easily scannable by a range of devices, including smartphones, which makes them accessible to all stakeholders in the supply chain.
Decentralized Label Printing: The New Normal
The decentralization of label printing has profound implications for supply chain operations. It means that label printing capacity can be distributed throughout the supply chain, from manufacturing sites to distribution centers to end-point retail locations. This trend is facilitated by cloud-based label management systems, which allow templates and print jobs to be managed centrally while execution happens locally. Such systems ensure consistency and compliance across all labels, regardless of where they are printed.
The Role of Technology Providers
Industry leaders like Propel Apps, SAP, Oracle and Zebra are pivotal in driving these trends. They offer sophisticated label printing solutions that cater to the need for mobility, decentralization, and ERP independence. These solutions empower workers with user-friendly interfaces and support the use of QR codes and other advanced data carriers.
As we look to the future, we can expect these trends to continue, driven by the ever-increasing demand for efficiency and the relentless pace of technological innovation. The role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in label printing will likely grow, offering even more intelligent and interconnected solutions.
In conclusion, the trends in supply chain label printing are moving towards greater autonomy, mobility, and data richness. The ability to print labels directly from mobile devices without reliance on central ERP systems is a game-changer, offering the flexibility and responsiveness that modern supply chains require. As organizations strive to maintain accuracy, compliance, and quality control in their operations, embracing these trends will not be an option—it will be a necessity for staying competitive in the complex tapestry of global supply chains. Propel Apps is here to help with all of your supply chain operation needs. Get in touch today!