The Future of Labeling with Coding and Marking

Marking and coding shares accurate information about the origin of materials and ingredients in products, and is a necessity for serialization and traceability.

Marking and Coding Technology Ushers in a New Era of Labeling

By Josh Roffman, Senior Vice President Marketing and Product Management, Loftware

The last few years have illustrated that manufacturers need to be agile to navigate today’s dynamic market, which is being shaped by supply chain challenges, regulatory changes, and increasing consumer demands. Today, orders need to be accurate, personalized, and customized to specific needs, as well as processed and delivered faster than ever.

To keep pace with these trends, global manufacturers are increasingly recognizing the importance of moving away from their disparate labeling applications and adopting

a centralized and cloud-based solution. This enables them to drive all their print devices from an all-in-one digital platform, with coverage ranging from marking and coding production devices to supply chain thermal printers. By interfacing with a range of printing technologies, such a labeling solution provides manufacturers with greater agility and the ability to scale. In addition, manufacturers do not have to spend time swapping out their production lines or replicating data – saving both time and resources.

A pivotal time for the industry

Given today’s volatile markets, companies of all sizes are looking to expand their digital transformation programs in order to optimize costs and gain a competitive advantage as they look ahead to 2023 and beyond. As part of this, manufacturers are seeking an all-in-one digital ecosystem that can bring products to market quickly, efficiently, and more competitively. Within this context, marking and coding is emerging as a crucial technology for modern businesses.

According to our company’s annual research, 78% of businesses believe that requirements for marking and coding technology will increase over the next three years, while 96% see an advantage of using a single platform to support thermal transfer as well as direct marking and coding.

Benefits of marking and coding

Marking and coding devices – which provide the ability to print on almost any surface by using lasers and sprays – are deployed across a range of sectors, including food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods. Everyday examples include barcodes, serialization codes, and expiration or ‘best by’ dates. Ultimately, the purpose of marking and coding is to keep everyone in the supply chain informed about the product by providing details on its source, legitimacy, and freshness. There are several benefits that come with this.

First, marking and coding helps manufacturers meet traceability requirements – a capability that is crucial in cases when products need to be recalled and during times of supply chain disruption. When a complaint arises over an individual product, manufacturers can quickly retrace the steps of the product to identify shipments and lots that may also need to be recalled. As companies face growing pressure from governments, consumers, and stakeholders to share accurate information about the origin of materials and ingredients in products, the traceability afforded by marking and coding has become even more of a necessity.

Secondly, marking and coding can be used to prove the authenticity of a product, which is particularly relevant across the medical device, pharmaceuticals, and luxury goods sectors. Retailers, customers, and anybody else in the supply chain can easily trace the product back to its place of manufacture to ensure that it is authentic and safe for use, sale, or transportation thanks to marking and coding.

Combatting counterfeit items is critical for brands as they seek to prove the authenticity of their products. In 2021, Amazon alone identified, seized, and appropriately disposed of over 3 million counterfeit products targeted for sale to consumers. Counterfeits are a risk to e-commerce players, manufacturers, and consumers alike, and the global anti-counterfeiting packaging market is expected to grow by 45% between 2018 and 2026.

Thirdly, and perhaps most recognisably, marking and coding provides information on the freshness and expiration date of a product. This is clear in the food and beverage sector, where “best before” and “use by” dates are used by consumers to know whether a product is safe to eat. In this capacity, marking and coding assists customers in getting the most out of their shopping basket and aids with decreasing food waste.

Embrace technology to future-proof your business

Once operated as “closed-loop systems” with disconnected, purpose-built software for different devices, marking and coding devices were primarily manual and had limited automation controlling the workflow. As a result, operators had to manually enter information, which made the system prone to errors.

However, the labelling software space is undergoing an exciting transformation as manually operated, disconnected printers get connected, integrated, and controlled by intelligent systems. Now companies can utilise a standardised and centralised platform for all their labelling requirements, which offers integration capabilities to manage output for all their devices from thermal and colour laser printing to marking and coding devices, visual inspection systems, serialisation solutions, and more. By adopting such a solution as part of a cloud-first strategy, businesses will gain printing flexibility, accuracy, and efficiency to improve their bottom line and support global growth.

About the Author

Josh Roffman is the Senior Vice President Marketing and Product Management at Loftware.

He specializes in the impact of supply chain trends on enterprise labelling and directs Loftware’s product strategy. Learn more at www.loftware.com.

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