Loftware on sustainability & supply chain disruptions

Josh Roffman, Loftware Senior Vice President of Global Product Management, explores building a sustainable, cost-effective & time-efficient production line

Hi Josh, please introduce yourself and your role.

“I am SVP of Marketing and Product Management at Loftware, where I am responsible for defining the company’s product strategy and overseeing all marketing functions, including leading Loftware’s thought leadership efforts. I have over 30 years of marketing and product management experience in enterprise software. Outside of work, I enjoy travelling, spending time in Acadia National Park, and am a dedicated Boston Red Sox fan.”

What is Loftware?

“Loftware is the world’s largest cloud-based Enterprise Labelling and Artwork Management provider, offering an end-to-end labelling solution platform for companies of all sizes. 

“We have an impressive global presence – with offices spanning the US, UK, Germany, Slovenia, China, and Singapore. In a nutshell, we are focused on solving labelling challenges across a wide variety of industries. We help our clients improve accuracy, traceability, and compliance while improving the quality, speed, and efficiency of their labelling - ultimately enabling supply chain agility and business operations, which is essential given the current market and operating environment.”

Tell us about your role as SVP Marketing and Product Management?

“In my role, I inform and educate the broader audience around industry challenges and solutions. I work closely with our customers to understand their specific needs and help define our product roadmap to address customer requests. For example, I helped to plan and execute the launch of Loftware Spectrum, the industry's only all-in-one Enterprise Labelling solution to be delivered completely via a browser-based interface. I also work to contribute to the company’s overall growth and was directly involved in leading integration teams following the combination of Loftware and NiceLabel and the acquisition of PRISYM ID.”

How are you helping companies to build a more sustainable, cost-effective and time-efficient production line?

“It’s a challenging business backdrop and all companies around the world are focused on cost-effective and time-efficient production lines. As a result, cloud adoption should be at the heart of every labelling strategy – and it’s something businesses often overlook. A cloud-based labelling solution allows users from any geography to instantly access accurate, compliant, and up-to-date labelling content, without the need to design new templates, copy existing ones, or create them manually. This is essential in driving quality assurance, cost savings, and more efficient label management.

“When it comes to sustainability, by offering a centralised labelling solution that provides instant access to label templates throughout a business or across multiple sites, Loftware helps companies to improve consistency and accuracy, while also reducing the likelihood of mislabelling. As a result, there are far fewer instances where products need to be withdrawn, recalled from the market, and scrapped as waste. This in turn reduces a company’s environmental footprint, empowering them to meet their sustainability goals.”

Are you concerned about the recession and budget crunches?

“At Loftware, we are constantly looking to remove cost barriers and we empower businesses of all sizes and scopes to apply world-class enterprise systems across their labelling operations. We have worked to ensure that organisations can leverage the power of unified, cloud-based solutions without needing to employ a large IT team or have a limitless budget at their disposal. The cloud also eliminates the need for upfront investments. Simply put, you only pay for what you use and when you use it. Additionally, the cloud reduces staff costs and overall manpower hours, while also addressing expenses involved in scaling and updating hardware and software.”

How have you responded to the increased consumer scrutiny around sustainability?

“Sustainability and environmental considerations are strongly impacting the market, with consumers pushing brands to improve their efforts in these areas. We have responded to this increased scrutiny by emphasising the ways in which adopting and deploying a cloud-based labelling solution can boost sustainability credentials.

“Countless organisations still rely on legacy approaches to manage labelling, such as manual approval processes and decentralised systems. However, accurate labelling is vital in making supply chains more sustainable – minimising incorrectly labelled products that need to be shipped and returned or scrapped as waste. For decades organisations have struggled to find the perfect labelling solution for business partners including suppliers, contract manufacturers and third-party logistics providers. If these partners aren't complying with a company's labelling standards, this can result in an expensive and lengthy manual relabelling process. However, the accuracy of a modern labelling solution ensures that businesses and their partners across the supply chain can access and apply the right labels every time.

“Furthermore, since they do not require onsite servers that use large amounts of electricity, cloud-based solutions have a smaller environmental footprint.”

Why is there a need for greater supply chain transparency in both the EU and the US?

“Traceability has been frequently driven by regulations, especially in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and food and beverage industries where validation and compliance are critical. 

“When we assess the top risks associated with an inability to track products through today’s global supply chain, lost products and inventory is one of the leading concerns, followed by supply chain disruption, the inability to effectively manage recalls, and the need to combat counterfeit items. 

“Expectations around traceability have increased significantly as technologies offer more opportunity for visibility. For instance, the “Amazon Effect” has led consumers to expect full visibility to see when and how their products ship and to trace the delivery of these products with real-time information from the manufacturer right to their doorstep. Every time a product changes hands, the transaction can be documented, creating a permanent and traceable history throughout the supply chain. 

“This traceability is not only helpful to the consumer but also for manufacturers who might need to recall products quickly. A record of stored information supports the accurate and efficient recall of unsafe or non-compliant products, thereby mitigating risks to consumers and brand reputation.

“Combatting counterfeit items is also critical for brands as they seek to prove the authenticity of their products. In 2021, Amazon alone identified, seized, and appropriately disposed of over 3m 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.

Tell us about the cost-saving opportunities of automating labelling solutions - and the risks of mislabelling.

“The topic of mislabelling is a serious one for many companies. Mislabelling a product not only costs an organisation in terms of lost production time and potential fines, but it can also have other worrying consequences, especially when it comes to food allergens, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. 

“For instance, our research found that 76% of IT directors in manufacturing reported that more than 10% of their organisation’s goods are labelled incorrectly every year, while more than a quarter in total (26%) said more than 25% are mislabelled on an annual basis. Respondents also revealed their organisations incurred an average cost of approximately US$65,000 from incorrect labelling in one year, with 61% of the sample saying their organisation incurred losses amounting to more than US$50,000 from mislabelling during the same timeframe. 

“Migrating to the cloud gives businesses access to data-driven dynamic labelling that helps to eliminate errors by drawing from a single source of truth to ensure consistency and accuracy across the global enterprise. Not only are label templates stored centrally, role-based access means that the process to define who creates, accesses, and amends label designs within a company is rigorously controlled. It also helps to identify which printers are in use and who is accessing them. Both of these functions enable businesses to eliminate labelling errors and/or unauthorised label changes.”

Why is it important to collect and disclose data surrounding the total environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle?

“Mandatory compliance standards promoting environmental traceability within supply chains are expected to come into effect in both Europe and the US over the next few years. For example, because of the EU’s push for a more circular economy, Europe is ushering in the Digital Product Passport (DPP), a scannable passport designed to help both manufacturers and consumers become more sustainable by providing end-to-end traceability. 

“This will involve various companies uploading data about a product’s design, sourcing of raw materials, production, transportation, and recyclability to one central location. As a result, the total environmental impact of a product’s lifecycle is far more visible to the consumer making purchasing decisions. In terms of scope, the DPP will soon apply to virtually all non-food items across the EU. In the US, we have also seen the emergence of similar initiatives pushing for greater supply chain transparency. In order to be prepared for these mandatory compliance standards, it is important that stakeholders throughout the supply chain collect data in a centralised and efficient manner.”

What are the benefits of improved supply chain transparency and timestamps during periods of ongoing supply chain disruption?

“Today’s global supply chain requires new levels of visibility as companies add new partners, expand into new regions, and attempt to meet ever-evolving regulatory demands. Enabling transparency throughout the supply chain has become a necessity to ensure quality, safeguard products, protect patients and consumers, streamline location of inventory, and guarantee on-time delivery to market. 

“Labelling is the vehicle which carries relevant data, such as specific product information which may include expiry dates, serial numbers, certificates of origin, and lot/batch information to provide the essential link between digital and physical. Ultimately, labelling is an enabler of traceability, which provides a full audit trail of a product from its parts/materials/ ingredients to its manufacturing and distribution to the end user or customer.”

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