Arjun Khanna, Kallik CTO, on the manufacturing supply chain

Arjun Khanna, CTO of IT service Kallik, explores how end-to-end integrated digitisation keeps the manufacturing supply chain flowing

Up to 90% of manufacturers struggle with integration challenges, meaning that when disruption and changes occur, as has been the norm in recent years, they struggle to react effectively or quickly, which can cause a ripple effect through the heart of the supply chain. 

For Arjun Khanna, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at Kallik, end-to-end digital integration must be a priority in digital transformation efforts – right down to critical artwork and labelling on every product and package for important, highly regulated industry sectors. 

Carefully integrating core solutions can help businesses resolve the extensive operational challenges and counter the vulnerability caused by siloed data and disparate systems. These can be triggered by operational challenges such as acquiring business branches in new geographies, regulatory changes, or even rolling out new factory floor processes. Any of these could require a significant response to avoid major disruption, and disconnected systems leave businesses poorly placed to respond. 

 

Disparate data leaves legacy systems vulnerable

Despite such threats to business continuity, many firms continue to operate a patchwork of core systems with either little to no integration with each other. They are often developed piecemeal with in-house fixes or manual workarounds. While this may help maintain the status quo of day-to-day operations, it is highly vulnerable to disruption and far from agile compared to more digitally mature competitors.

Thankfully, the latest wave of digital transformation has placed an increased focus on cloud-based solutions and customisable implementations for core platforms such as ERP systems. However, other, more legacy systems or manual processes are equally critical to operational success – yet often neglected in the grand scheme of ‘digital transformation’ projects. This lack of integration is especially noticeable among businesses operating in highly regulated industries such as pharma, medical devices, or chemicals, despite these being prime candidates for short-notice impactful disruption. 

Make sure artwork, labelling and packaging are not a point of weakness in digital transformation

The disconnect is particularly noticeable in siloed product assets, such as labels, artwork, and symbols. This essential part of the business process often is subject to minimal version control or global insight, and where integration with print requests and data flows from the ERP system, for example, are yet to be embraced on a significant scale. 

But these label and artwork management systems play an increasingly critical role in ensuring product consistency, consumer safety and regulatory compliance. As a result, having these operations and assets siloed is becoming non-negotiable. Integration with other platforms such as regulatory systems is a must. 

The impacts of getting it wrong can be huge

Take a label for a simple medical device intended for the EU market. This must pass through extensive review and approval processes to ensure medical, marketing, and regulatory information – including various symbols and markings – are all present, correct and consistent. To be sold broadly throughout the EU, this device label would in theory need to be translated into 24 different languages.

This upstream process is therefore very delicate and susceptible to disruption or human error. If an incorrect version of a regulatory symbol is used, or some medical information is changed in one language then not updated across all other language versions, this could introduce a major error – potentially even threatening the health of the end-user and triggering a costly product recall.

If the systems involved in this workflow are not fully integrated into other critical business systems, processes and databases, the risk of recalls can rise significantly. 

Find a digital artwork and labelling management system that drives integration 

Consolidation and integration are key when it comes to rationalising and standardising systems and processes as part of a company’s digital maturity project. That means finding proven, feature-rich solutions that can be deployed across all necessary departments and locations worldwide, with full integration capability to ensure seamless operation with other core systems. 

Label and artwork management platforms are no exception. Indeed, these must be able to integrate with other critical software as standard – from Regulatory Information Management (RIM) systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. 

Consider integration in the cloud… 

Business leaders would also be well-advised to opt for a cloud-based solution that can be readily deployed and accessed in any location by any department, adding a new level of scalability. 

As businesses connect and integrate critical IT infrastructure, the benefits of truly unified operations and visibility become apparent. 

For example, if a specific product asset or symbol must be replaced or updated at short notice, users can tap into the ‘Where Used’ functionality within a fully integrated management solution to identify every instance of the existing asset actively being used worldwide – and effortlessly make a bulk update in turn. No manual searching of data silos, no piecemeal updates across multiple teams – this is all easily accessible and actionable in a ‘single source of truth’.

…and realise the all-encompassing end-to-end benefits 

This unlocks powerful end-to-end audit and version control capabilities – allowing any users with relevant permissions to make changes and flag comments in a clear, actionable format. By integrating a solution with further powerful features, such as automated artwork generation, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of human error in asset creation, updating and positioning.

For artwork and label management solutions, a cloud-based end-to-end platform such as Veraciti™ from Kallik is an ideal candidate focus for any integration-minded business – providing a standard set of APIs out the box as a tried-and-tested ‘blueprint’ to follow during implementation.

From a security perspective, shifting to a single artwork and label management platform also brings fresh benefits – with a single sign-on and corporate login enhancing system security, user management and data protection.

Digitally agile competitors already have the upper hand, don’t fall further behind

The digital transformation race is on! To keep pace with opposition, assess your legacy IT stack and determine whether software can either be replaced with next-gen alternatives or tightly integrated. Only then can the necessary agility be implemented for businesses to adjust to new geographies, products, and supply chain shocks – and ensure label and artwork errors are reduced, to maintain end-user safety in highly regulated industries.

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