Within today’s vast network of supply chains, organizations rely heavily on the accuracy and efficiency of barcoding and labeling software. This valuable software helps organizations effectively design and print labels while meeting industry and regulatory standards and guidelines.
The right labeling and barcoding software can help reduce errors, streamline processes, provide better supply chain visibility and meet consumer demands, all of which can lead to cost savings for organizations.
There are several labeling software solutions, but how do you know which barcode and label software for enterprise business is right for you? In this article, you’ll learn about the top seven aspects to look for in a comprehensive labeling solution that meets the needs of your unique business and industry.
1. Design features
The demand for complex and variable designs increases as organizations scale and grow into new markets, leading to a need for dynamic label design. Proper design ensures that color, data, structure, positioning, language and more are accurately represented on each barcode or label, no matter where in the world it’s printed.
Unfortunately, barcoding errors can occur, particularly in data structure elements. For example, the unique device identification systems set forth by the US FDA, European Commission, China FDA and other regulatory bodies call for a data structure properly formatted to a specific syntax. Failure to follow these guidelines with proper design could affect patient safety and proper use.
Considering compliance and consumer safety, organizations need to rely on barcoding software that allows for the creation and instant implementation of label designs.
BarTender’s® Intelligent Templates™ offer the most comprehensive design solutions for producing a high volume of flexible label designs without creating hundreds of documents for each. They enable the print operator to select things like graphics, format and data fields, giving unique agility for companies serving multiple markets with various guidelines and standards.
Here are a few specific design techniques offered by BarTender software to ensure efficient, accurate label design:
- Conditional printing to specify when objects, layers or entire templates are printed.
- Custom scripting in response to certain document-level events, which can alter any object's appearance by changing its color, font, position, size or border.
- Automatic sizing for text, barcode and picture objects to make the objects fit a designated space on a template.
- Suppression to automatically hide text on a template based on specified conditions set by the user.
- Numerous options for fonts, text formatting and transformation, shapes and lines, symbols and graphics.
2. Compliance support
When it comes to regulatory compliance, labeling is crucial to providing safe, effective, accurate information that meets the standards set forth by specific governing bodies in industries such as:
- Medical device manufacturing
- Food & beverage
When you’re researching different labeling software, compliance is one of the most important factors to consider because of the challenges and complexities it creates for labeling.
With this in mind, it may be helpful to look for labeling solutions that offer various levels of support based on the needs of your organization. For instance, consider the following capabilities that help with compliance:
- Secure document access and printing from web browsers that prevent cyber threats.
- Accurate management of traceability and serialization to support compliance with industry regulations like 21 CFR Part 11, UDI, MDR and more.
- Templates that contain business rules to enable compliance.
More specifically, BarTender’s features are designed to meet evolving regulatory demands, no matter where your business and supply chain operate, which industries or how much your business scales. You can feel confident that your BarTender labeling software will meet compliance demands, even when changes need to occur quickly and regularly.
3. Compatibility and integration
When managing a global supply chain that contains numerous device types, operating systems, networks and users, it’s essential to maintain labeling software that can seamlessly integrate with existing systems. These may include warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource planning systems (ERPs) like Oracle, SAP and Microsoft Dynamics. Without proper integration and compatibility, costly errors may occur as a result of inaccuracies and inefficiencies.
Flexible labeling and barcoding software integration supports interoperability that enables systems to easily exchange information. It also creates a foundation for business processes that supports the wellbeing and growth of your organization and the entire supply chain.
Methods to consider when looking at different labeling software options are:
- Building triggers using HTTP web service (REST or SOAP), file drop, database monitoring, e-mail, TCP or UDP network port, serial port and MSMQ.
- Ability to select from different data formats including: JSON, XML, SOAP, CSV and other text file formats.
- Enable label printing, database queries, network communications and more with different action types
- .NET SDK for custom-built applications or web-based front ends
- Integration with printers around the world
With integrated labeling software, you can standardize labeling across different systems to reduce operational expenses and define labeling based on your unique needs.
For many enterprise organizations, there is opportunity to scale and grow, which means your labeling and barcoding software needs to be capable of growth, too. Whether it’s expanding into new markets, merging with other companies or introducing new products, scalability needs to be a concern when choosing labeling software.
The following labeling software features can help organizations scale their labeling process:
- Centralized management of data.
- Automation for accurate label creation and printing.
- Templates with intelligent features that populate accurate information and structure.
- Simple point-and-click interface to aid print operators.
- Workflow designer that simplifies label creation and ensures team accountability.
- Incremented serial numbers at a single printer or printers across your network.
5. Ease of use and implementation
Features of labeling software are important, but it’s also key that they are easily implemented. Transitioning to new software can present challenges like integrating with existing systems and training.
When researching labeling solutions, look for things that will help with implementation and use:
- Interoperability with existing systems like WMS and ERP.
- Well-managed deployment process by a team with experience in your industry and specific business needs.
- Comprehensive technical support including live phone and chat features.
- Integration with legacy systems.
- Ample resources such as articles, training videos, product help, white papers and online communities to offer instruction and assistance.
Operating across a global supply chain with hundreds of devices, numerous users and networks is a huge undertaking, particularly as it relates to security. Cyberthreats are common and attackers can try to enter vulnerable networks that aren’t secured by proper authentication, audit trail capture or encryption. This can lead to costly security threats or breaches that may affect your entire supply chain.
When looking for labeling software, check that it maintains comprehensive security, such as the following features:
- Role-based permissions.
- Document and printing passwords required to design or print.
- Status monitoring that reports information back to Windows about printer errors and jobs status.
- Email notification to automatically alert IT managers and team members of labeling problems.
- Electronic signatures for audit trail accountability and regulatory compliance.
- Document encryption for secure use across networks.
There are many options when it comes to labeling software with various features that may be appropriate for your business. But it’s also important to consider the cost in relation to your organization’s needs and goals.
Be sure to research the options each software offers. Many labeling software solutions will provide options to serve different size businesses and those with specific needs like compliance or centralization.
They may also offer upgraded features, but you'll want to check the cost for those upgrades and if they’re for new editions or specific features, and what they include. Understanding your options, and the features within those options, will help you assess which product is best for your organization.
Additionally, be sure to check the licensing options available from your software provider, including printer licensing. Consider the number of licenses, purchasing options and ability to expand those licenses to ensure you have the proper labeling solutions as you grow.
BarTender offers four options including Starter Edition, Professional Edition, Automation Edition and Enterprise Edition:
- Starter Edition is ideal for small businesses and departments that need a quick labeling solution to support variable data from databases like Excel or CSV files.
- Professional Edition is barcode and label software for small businesses and departments that includes RFID encoding and enables easy linkage to content.
- Automation Edition is ideal for businesses that need to automate their labeling efficiency, agility and accuracy in a complex labeling environment.
- Enterprise Edition is ideal for large organizations that operate globally and must meet the demands of regulated industries with complex supply chains.