Laura Johnson, Loftware

5 Labeling Trends Affecting MedTech

By Laura Johnson
Laura Johnson, Loftware

How the shifting supply chain landscape and regulatory requirements will impact your business.

Trend 4: Labeling Extends Upstream and Downstream

Companies that don’t attempt to connect business partners across the global supply chain are missing opportunities to meet new customer demands, grow into new markets, and increase competitive advantage. More than two-thirds of those surveyed (67%) see value in having suppliers print labels using a shared solution to ensure proper labeling. This is because labeling plays an important part in generating value from the supply chain network to improve efficiency and meet customer demands. When businesses extend labeling to partners and suppliers, they are able to avoid downstream processing errors and eliminate the need for relabeling. It also removes the risk associated with shipping preprinted labels and allows companies to realize savings from cost of returns, improve brand consistency, and ensure label accuracy.

Extending labeling both upstream and downstream has a host of benefits. For many global companies there is too much risk and cost involved in relying on suppliers to label goods correctly. When companies allow partners to access shared label­ing capabilities, they ensure that those partners print the right label with the right content in the right format. This also allows adherence to corporate and brand standards and safeguards label accuracy. Also, relabeling is a major source of inefficiency and cost. Companies waste millions of dollars each year relabeling goods that are received but lack the necessary label information and formatting required. This is another reason why companies today are extending labeling to their suppliers to ensure that they adhere to existing labeling standards to avoid relabeling costs and guarantee compliance. Also, global manufacturers are increasingly faced with the challenge of integrating their aftermarket parts and services business with their supply chain infrastructure. Companies are now providing partners and customers with controlled access to labeling solutions as a means to enable labeling downstream so that those items will be labeled accurately and efficiently. It also proves significant in identifying and tracing parts and products.

Trend 5: Labeling Success Is More Than Just Software

Businesses today are relying on seasoned labeling professionals for best practices, implementation consulting, training and knowledge transfer to help ensure success.

They understand that working with these experts can help minimize or eliminate production stoppages, optimize supply chain operations, improve customer satisfaction and ultimately increase business. These professionals are able to help them deal with the many unique labeling requirements to address dynamics of different industries, products, geographies, regulations and business models. More than 92% of respondents using professional services found great value in those services. With this focus, expectations have increased for labeling professionals to understand and provide guidance on evolving industry standards and regulations, business processes, and regional nuances, along with expert around-the-clock support to enable continuous operations.

Companies with worldwide operations that include manufacturing and distribution facilities across the globe must ensure continuous flow of goods through the supply chain. This is why many companies are enlisting solution providers to properly set up environments to maximize reliability and provide 24/7/365 support for mission-critical labeling operations. These global companies are requiring labeling partners that provide the knowledge, support and troubleshooting capabilities needed to maximize reliability and uptime. Also, as regulations and emerging stan­dards continue to impact the medical device industry, labeling is a specific area where constant change is neces­sary to comply with evolving requirements such as UDI. Additionally, as global companies continue to expand their presence, they must consider how to efficiently deploy and maintain labeling solutions so they can continue to scale. They must be able to handle the rigors of global infrastructures, manage outages and connectivity issues, while providing high availability, failover, and disaster recovery capabilities. A best practices approach calls for the software provider, who is by design most familiar with their solutions, to assist in installing and configuring the labeling environment, while offering any necessary training and support.


  1. Pettey, C. (2016). “Innovate Under Every Condition: The Bimodal Supply Chain,” Retrieved from
  2. Gartner IT Glossary. Retrieved from

The annual survey referenced in this article was conducted by Loftware to get a pulse on the impact of labeling on today’s supply chain. The firm polled more than 800 supply chain and IT professionals from organizations across all major industries in 32 different countries to gather insights on what they saw as the major trends in Enterprise Labeling for 2017.

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Laura Johnson, Loftware