Advanced Print on Demand labeling is helping manufacturers enhance their brand,enter new markets, streamline operations, and lower total cost.
While adhesive labels are typically the last thing manufacturers consider when bringing a product to market, too often in the ever-changing marketplace traditional pre-printed labels have proven inflexible, cumbersome, and costly.
And as savvy manufacturers understand, they cannot simply stick any old label on their products: not when the label is their brand to the consumer; not when the label conveys vital safety information; not when the label must withstand packaging, processing, and often years of use in the field, where it must stay prominent, legible, and vibrant during the product’s useful life.
Now Print on Demand (POD) labeling is fulfilling its promise as it helps manufacturers enhance their brand, enter new markets, streamline operations, and lower total cost. Far from ordinary labels, these advanced labels can exceed the legibility, durability, and visual impact of typical labels with significant bottom-line results for manufacturers.
“We turned to the POD labels for their crisp, clear graphics, rapid turnaround, and reduced inventory cost,” says Greg Vanhazenbrouck, General Manager of Winter Sausage, a family-owned, premium deli meats company, based in Eastpointe, MI, who relies on American Label & Tag, a Canton, MI-based manufacturer of custom labels, tags, decals and nameplates that offers POD labeling. “Even with rising commodity costs, POD labeling has held down our cost per label and lowered our total cost due to improved efficiencies.”
Fast, Lean, and Flexible
Though widely adopted in recent years within the book publishing industry, POD has only recently established a foothold with label printers as the technology has been adapted for label printing, and more shops make the capital investment in the equipment.
POD label presses are full-color digital print systems that offer greater flexibility than conventional presses in job setup and changeover times. For manufacturers in a growing number of industries, POD printing of labels reduces lead times, improves supply chain management, allows shorter runs and minimal stock holding, and satisfies the requirements of variable data and other last minute changes.
Today the quality of POD labeling can actually surpass that of traditionally printed labels.
“We take great pride in our taste-tested German family recipes, but our pre-printed package labels didn’t reflect the care we put into our product,” says Vanhazenbrouck. “As the graphics wore and legibility suffered in the field, the packages looked older and less desirable.”
American Label & Tag helped Winter Sausage test for label image quality, durability, and color matched the browns and grays of the company’s fresh and smoked meats. Using POD labels, the label company prototyped a variety of different color schemes to quickly and inexpensively find the best color combination.
“Not only do the new labels give us the crisp, brand image we wanted to achieve, but also they’re holding up in the field,” says Vanhazenbrouck. “Their lasting eye appeal is bound to help sales.”
The flexibility of label design has also encouraged Winter Sausage to develop new products, and to re-package existing product in new sizes or styles to meet consumer demand, according to Vanhazenbrouck.
“Since the POD labels have sped up package design, we’re able to launch new products about 25 percent faster,” adds Vanhazenbrouck. “It’s helping us develop new business. For instance, to get a new foot-long sausage on the shelf of an important chain retailer, we had to meet their deadline, complete with labeling and packaging. POD helped us do this and now the product is selling well.”
When a label change is necessary due to a change in ingredients, suppliers, or regulation, for instance, POD labeling can speed the process, avoiding slowed production or missed sales commitments.
“When we had to change label data, pre-printed labels typically held us up for a week or more while we waited for them to print and ship,” says Vanhazenbrouck. “Now we expedite label changes with POD labeling. This keeps production on track and helps secure retail shelf space.”
Because the POD labels can be ordered with a typical lead-time of a week or less, they have significantly reduced Winter Sausage’s required label inventory.
“Now we carry half the label inventory and order small quantities as needed,” says Vanhazenbrouck. “Since our inventory handling is more efficient, we’re saving about $70,000 a year in reduced labor. The ongoing savings frees up capital and helps our cash flow. Anybody with labeling who doesn’t want their money tied up in inventory should consider POD.”
Some pro-active manufacturers are finding that POD labeling can squeeze more efficiency out of their existing operations, and improve customer relationships.
“To streamline operations, one of our manufacturing plants turned to digital Print On Demand of labels,” says Tom Reister, a sales manager for the major appliance business of Haier America, a New York City-based leader in home appliances, HDTV, and air conditioning that’s part of the Haier Group.
“American Label & Tag introduced us to POD labeling, and it’s taken one of the headaches out of the production cycle,” adds Reister. “Where lead times for pre-printed labels ran a month or more, POD has reduced label lead times to a week or less. It’s helped with production flow, reduced label inventories, and allowed us to respond faster to customers’ needs, especially on rush jobs or when there’s last minute changes.”
Opening New Markets
Quick label turnaround can sometimes help to boost sales and open new markets, as it has for Phoenix Dental, a Fenton, MI-based dental product manufacturer with the motto “Better Dentistry Through Chemistry.” When Phoenix Dental, Inc. sought to expand sales of Super Seal, its potassium oxalate chemistry product that prevents tooth sensitivity, quick label turnaround was crucial.
“Our Japanese market required product immediately, and in order to ship it that same day we needed lot labels completed,” says Sherry Moffitt, Phoenix Dental’s Chief Development Manager. “Traditional label printing would have caused an unacceptable delay of at least 1 to 2 weeks, and the quality could have been compromised if rushed.”
“American Label & Tag printed the labels digitally on demand and hand-delivered them to us that afternoon with fine quality,” explains Moffitt. “We were able to ship the same day and kept our promise to our key Japanese customers. Now the market is growing nicely.”
POD can also help shorten the time between spotting a market need and getting a new product to market.
“When we spot a market need, American Label & Tag can create within a week a labeled, packaged prototype for us that we can put into prospective customers’ hands,” adds Moffitt. “It has definitely helped us close some deals and will play a necessary part in the launching of several new products.”
Some pro-active manufacturers are using POD labeling to meet important seasonal deadlines.
“To include a new line of chocolate covered confections in the Christmas catalog, we had to expedite label completion,” says Brian Jefferson, Chairman of Sanders Candy, a Clinton Township, MI-based maker of fine chocolate, candy, and dessert toppings since 1875, and a division of Morley Brands, LLC. “With digital POD, American Label & Tag completed the labels for our line within two weeks for catalog inclusion.”
The quick turnaround and short production runs possible with label POD also helps Sanders Candy take advantage of niche market opportunities it would otherwise miss.
“We use POD to re-label product when we want to do a blowout sale or limited time offer for local or national retailers,” says Jefferson. “American Label & Tag helps make this possible with custom short runs of 1,000 to 3,000 labels with turnaround in a few days.”
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. American Label & Tag, Inc. is a quality manufacturer of custom labels, tags, decals, and nameplates. For more info, visit www.americanlabel.com; call 800-641-8247; Fax 734-454-7606; or write to American Label and Tag at P.O. Box 85488 Westland, MI 48185-0488.