The electronics industry today is characterized by an ever-sprawling set of global supply chains, causing an increase in disparate labeling systems spread across the enterprise with an ever increasing volume of duplicated label and redundant master data. This begs the question: how effective is labeling in the electronics industry today? Can labeling be more optimized for large corporations with thousands of printers around the world?
The challenges facing organizations dealing with global supply chains include the need to accomplish the following:
- Increase supply chain transparency for speedy product development
- Centralize and consolidate label printing from one location to thousands of remote printers worldwide
- Integrate labeling with business applications
- Reduce the number of label templates with automation
- Rapidly change labels as customer, geographical and regulatory requirements evolve
- Build “configure to order” solutions in high volumes
- Attain higher yields through fewer defects in labels
- Defend against higher costs by safeguarding against counterfeiting
- Reduce manufacturing costs and sustain or improve margins
That’s more easily said than done. Why? Because among other things, and most obviously, the success of a collaborative and coordinated global supply chain depends upon operating reliably across borders, over distances, in many languages—and all must be in sync with different time zones in compliance with a variety of different local, regional, and national regulatory requirements.
This discussion is targeted toward electronics industry supply chain and logistics professionals tasked with optimizing their company’s partnerships to get more done, in more places, in less time, for the achievement of greater profitability and market share. It speaks to the many components that contribute to partnership optimization and solutions at hand through product labeling and data standards that can lead to supply chain transparency. The basic concept is simple: if all stakeholders in the supply chain can speak the same language, figuratively speaking, then raw materials and finished products can come and go faster, more reliably, with less waste, and with fewer errors. All this can occur at lower costs for higher margin outcomes, increased customer responsiveness, and strong competitive advantage.
As Usual, There’s No Such Thing as “Business as Usual” in the Electronics Industry
Because the electronics industry continues to innovate, the task of meeting the new objective of supply chain transparency and integration is not merely a matter of engaging in the same, business-as-usual approach to raw materials sourcing, manufacturing, assembly, and shipment processes for a simplistic adaptation to a new supply chain model. For example, the adaptation has to happen in parallel with new trends in unit-level traceability by involving increasingly smaller components that defy conventional labeling processes. Adaptation has to occur while demands increase for faster line changeovers, faster component and assembly verification, and inspection. It all has to happen at a time when many electronics manufacturers are looking to emerging countries with fertile opportunities for low cost manufacturing potential through new or acquired facilities.
Against this backdrop, data and product marketing standards initiatives in the electronic industry cannot expect to gain traction until ongoing trends and developments can be supported. Better-known issues with a long history of adding complexity to the industry need to be solved. In other words, the electronics industry doesn’t just need something different, or something new, unless the solution takes away the burden of current processes and simultaneously delivers the opportunity to leverage the industry to the next level.
Stay tuned for Part II of Enterprise Labeling: An Imperative for the Electronics Industry - Common Practice with Wasteful Limitations. To find out more about how enterprise labeling solutions can improve business performance, view the recently released report on Key Business Drivers for labeling in your global supply chain.
Joe Longo is an electronics industry specialist with Loftware and has been working with Loftware enterprise customers in the electronics industry for over seven years.