“BarTender has unified our label production. Its interface is easy to understand, and it has greatly improved our editing capabilities. As we work more with BarTender, we will be able to dramatically reduce the number of label formats that we manage. All processes will be automated — we look forward to this ideal state.”
- Ms. Aya Ikeda, Lush Japan
The cosmetic manufacturer Lush uses pure and natural materials to produce handmade fragrance products. The company is widely known by consumers for its activism in environmental and social issues, such as opposition to animal experimentation common in the cosmetics industry.
Lush Japan is based in Kanagawa Prefecture. The products manufactured there are sold in Japan and other parts of Asia.
The company recently introduced BarTender® to their production lines. All processes will be gradually integrated into their new environment, laying the foundation for future automation. Currently, about 40% of all product labels are printed through BarTender while the company transitions from their legacy systems.
Challenge: Non-integrated labeling software led to inefficient operations and complexity
Since its founding in the UK in 1994, Lush has insisted on using only the freshest ingredients to produce handmade fragrance products. The company’s strict adherence to eco-friendly and cruelty-free practices has won it wide support and recognition among consumers and it has since grown into a major global cosmetics brand. Currently, Lush has 84 branch stores in Japan (as of July 2019) and most of the products sold are produced in its Aikawa-machi factory in Kanagawa Prefecture.
In order to cope with the demand of the peak Christmas season, the products are made during the summer. Tens of thousands of products are shipped daily from the Kanagawa factory. The difficulties of managing product labeling created problems.
“For our products, in addition to the product name, ingredients and other relevant information printed on the product label, we must also print out a “Central Kitchen” label, which includes the name of the responsible craftsman on the production line and other relevant information,” said Ms. Aya Ikeda, who is responsible for the operations management of the Lush label department. “In recent years, as the number of countries the products are exported to has increased, the label format has also expanded. For example, currently there are labeling formats in Japanese, English, Thai and Korean among others, totaling more than 130 different formats. Managing our label files had become complex.”
The production line responsible for printing labels is equipped with a total of twelve printers, from two manufacturers. Due to the different operating methods of the software applications from these two brands, the procedures for generating labels was extremely complicated. Optimized process integration and standardization were urgent issues, impacting the business and requiring swift resolution. Mr. Ahmed Onic, supervisor of IT business applications at the Shinagawa Branch Office, shared his experience with the issue.
“In addition to integrating processes, the production team would like IT solutions for other issues they face, like the fact that label printers must be they’d like the flexibility to use office computers to print out the labels. Another problem is that manual processes are required to connect and synch with the item master file in our ERP system to retrieve required information and process the data before it can be made into labels.”
Solution: BarTender integrates Lush's labeling operations
Lush was experienced with BarTender — Lush's UK locations had introduced BarTender into their labeling operations over five years’ prior. The Lush corporate team contacted Seagull Scientific, who recommended Lush work with SANKYO Intec Co., Ltd., a BarTender partner in Japan with extensive experience in BarTender implementations.In order to cope with the demand of the peak Christmas season, the products are made during the summer. Tens of thousands of products are shipped daily from the Kanagawa factory. The difficulties of managing product labeling created problems.
"The most important difference is the use of Drivers by Seagull™, which support multiple printers. They help effectively integrate the operation processes of our labeling software. In addition, SANKYO also proposed automating a link between labeling and the item master file, which eliminates the need for manual processes like exporting CSV files. This is main reason why our company introduced BarTender,” said Ms. Ikeda
In the spring of 2018, Lush made the final decision to introduce BarTender into its business operations. The first step was to develop a new labeling production process and format and implement it across various production facilities in a phased approach, starting from March 2019.
Benefits: BarTender's easy and intuitive operation contributes to enhanced productivity
The newly developed label output process uses BarTender's Drivers by Seagull™ to integrate drivers from different printer brands into a common shared environment. This means that regardless of the printer used by the onsite workers, the same consistent operation method can be used to print out the label.
"At present, about 40% of the labels we print are using BarTender. Compared to the original labeling software, the interface of BarTender is simpler and more intuitive — the flexibility of editing operations is much higher than in the past. After our operators are more familiar with BarTender's functions, the number of label formats we manage can be greatly reduced. On the production line, as long as BarTender is installed in the PC, the label can be corrected or printed out from any location in consistent format, which is a major change for us, and has improved production efficiency,” added Ms. Ikeda.
Such changes in the environment also have a positive effect on the IT workload. Mr. Ahmed believes that, “The integration of labeling software can have a positive effect on technical support. In the past, when hardware failed, we had to consult with different printer manufacturers, but this is no longer needed. In fact, as long as we communicate with our research and development partner SANKYO, we can resolve most problems encountered."
Automating label output requires a flexible production plan
A future goal of Lush Japan is to establish a consistent process that can fully connect the item master file, BarTender software and the production line computer.
"We successfully integrated our labeling software with BarTender and with the strong R&D and technical support of SANKYO, we have resolved fundamental issues such as the linking of item master files. Next, as we continue with some fine-tuning for label editing, the automation of all processes is no longer an unreachable dream. This is also our ultimate goal,” said Ms. Ikeda Lush has discontinued the use of multiple labeling output software since 2019 and fully switched to BarTender. Next, they’ll implement a phased-in labeling automation process. To achieve this goal, they’ll establish a flexible production plan that does not require a lot of staff training time and can also meet market demand. The company holds high expectations of benefits resulting from its investment in BarTender.
Lush has attracted many consumers with its corporate philosophy and values and has grown steadily over the years. It has also become an excellent role model for the industry. In the future, BarTender will continue to strongly support Lush in the creation of ever-greater business value in its operations.