Colin Le Gresley, Managing Director, Aztec Labels: With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the warehousing and logistics sector has been under considerable pressure to perform as consumers became locked down and the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry moved quickly to focus online. Combine this with the likely impact of BREXIT and operators are under considerable pressure to maintain operational efficiency.
As the e-commerce sector accelerated – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella quoting that: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months” on a recent quarterly earnings call – the need for brands and retailers to harness the power of supply chain data to underpin productivity, traceability and ultimately, consumer satisfaction, is never more apparent.
Having effective data to drive efficiency, accuracy and traceability means utilising efficient labelling systems. In particular, the GS1 Logistics Label ensures units of goods can be traced throughout the supply chain, however complex, from manufacturer to consumer. If brands are to maintain their customer satisfaction ratings, while managing new levels of supply chain complexity without escalating costs, then effective labelling becomes a lynchpin to the entire ecosystem.
Whether retail, automotive, manufacturing, healthcare or pharmaceuticals supply chains, labels for logistics are typically used for designating packaging units and the content of the label is usually printed at the packaging site i.e., the label can be pre-printed or blank. What is key is that close attention is paid to the selection of substrates for the overprinting of variable data – barcodes, QR codes, logistics data, addresses, product content etc – as the data can either be overprinted by thermal transfer, laser or inkjet printing technologies and materials are not always compatible. Ensuring the scratch and rub resistance of the label once printed, to enable it to withstand the rigours of the typical supply chain, minimises the risk of missing data and errors driving losses later in the supply chain process.
The combination of substrates and adhesives must also be considered with respect to the climatic conditions anticipated in the supply chain – at the packing and storage locations, as well as shipping conditions. Again, the label is required to maintain its visual information and robust performance.
As always, logistics labels are expected to be as cost-efficient as possible, which is why it’s important to always consider the above factors in optimising the quality and cost ratio. Importantly, with the increasing focus on sustainability, many brands are today seeking out new renewable or recyclable materials, as well as developments in linerless labels to eradicate the need for millions of metres of backing materials heading to landfill each year. While innovation is always required, there may be additional technical and cost burdens when seeking to drive such changes.
Finally, the role of the labels provider should not be underestimated in driving game-changing efficiency for warehousing and logistics operators. Having a labels supply partner that can provide the 24/7 customer service support, backed with a strong technical understanding of the needs of the business, can truly make the difference to costs, productivity and efficiency. Operators require consistent label quality, delivered on time, in full, every time.
Choosing the right partner, like Aztec Labels, ensures the right type and quality of labels for the right applications are selected, ultimately driving the data needs, traceability and accuracy demanded in today’s fast paced and complex global supply chains.