Your labelling operations are crucial to your business. Labelling items properly helps to ensure not only that they get to the correct recipient, but also that they’re compliant with any relevant regulations (for instance, those around hazardous chemicals or allergen information on food) – which leaves you at much lower risk of financial penalties or other punishments.

It’s up to you, then, to ensure that your labelling operations are fully modernised and as efficient as possible. Inefficient or otherwise unreliable labelling can cause major problems, including the non-compliance penalties we’ve just discussed, as well as reputational damage – which could potentially be serious and long-lasting.

SAP ERP software can help you modernise your labelling operations in various ways, enhancing efficiency, accuracy and compliance, among other things. In this blog, we’ll look at how to integrate SAP into your labelling operations and list some of the potential benefits of SAP’s new-generation S4/HANA Cloud ERP system.

What is SAP and S4/HANA?

SAP is enterprise, resource and planning (ERP) software. It is a comprehensive suite of business software which can be used to integrate various processes, including finance, human resources, manufacturing, sales and distribution.

In essence, SAP provides businesses with a single, centralised system through which they can manage a wide range of functions. It is widely used by businesses of various sizes operating in all sorts of different sectors. However, SAP ECC is being phased out with support ended at the end of 2027, with maintenance extensions for the ERP also scheduled to end in 2030.

This is why most SAP users are currently being urged to migrate to its S4/HANA Cloud service, which is the next generation of SAP ERP system and offers a range of improvements over its predecessors. SAP’s S4/HANA Cloud effectively lays the groundwork for digital transformation, including scalability, cost optimisation and agility.

Why you need to modernise your labelling – now

For SAP users who use SAPscript, SmartForms or Adobe Forms for managing labelling and barcode generation, the shift of labelling operations to the cloud provides a great opportunity to benefit from the latest, cutting-edge technology – one that could have far-reaching effects for your business.

In fact, integrating your labelling with SAP and S4/HANA enables you to transform your digital supply chain, benefiting your entire business as a whole. There are numerous reasons why this is important, and here we’ll look at just a few of them:

Easy label modifications

Cloud-based labelling makes it far simpler to make changes to labels. Its user-friendly interface makes label adjustments much more intuitive, sparing you the hassle of navigating complex templates – saving you time and also reducing the risk of making errors.

Template consolidation

Inevitably, businesses tend to accumulate lots of label templates over time. Having a plethora of old templates, however, can cause unnecessary confusion and inefficiency. With cloud-based labelling, it’s easy to consolidate old templates, which helps to ensure better consistency and makes labels easier to manage.

Free up employees to take on other tasks

Because the cloud makes label updates so much easier, it can improve productivity. This is because members of your team won’t be spending so much time bogged down in updating labels, freeing them up to take on other tasks.

Reduce the risk of non-compliance

In some industries, such as the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries, businesses are subject to stringent labelling compliance regulations. A cloud-based labelling solution automates quality control checks, which helps to prevent errors and therefore reduces the risk of penalties for non-compliance.

Boost efficiency

As we’ve noted, modernising your labelling processes by embracing the cloud can improve productivity. This contributes to overall operational efficiencies, in the form of streamlined workflows, reduced errors and increased print output – making your supply chain more responsive and agile.

Addressing common labelling problems

Whether you’re ready to move to S4/HANA now or it’s part of your plans for the future, integrating your labelling operations with the new system helps you to make your business more resilient, sustainable and transparent.

Crucially, S4/HANA helps businesses reduce costs and errors while improving agility and operational efficiencies. Here are some more reasons why you should consider updating your SAP ERP by switching to S4/HANA:

  • Legacy approaches that weren’t originally designed for labelling may require a time-consuming label update process.
  • Updates may consume scarce IT and technical resources which may be needed elsewhere, thereby hindering the wider business.
  • Outdated and inconsistent labelling methods can be difficult to scale and maintain, and may not be suitable for high-volume printing.
  • Legacy labelling solutions may not provide native support for many printer manufacturers and models.
  • If your existing ERP solution does not support dynamic labelling and facilitate rapid changes, you could find yourself managing excessive label templates, which can consume additional time and effort.

Boosting sustainability with cloud labelling

Sustainability is one of the biggest challenges currently facing businesses. SAP has also sought to help businesses improve environmental sustainability and make the shift towards a circular economy, by offering a range of eco-friendly solutions for its clients.

Labelling has impacts across every aspect of a business, so moving it to the cloud has positive implications throughout the wider business, from manufacturing and distribution to sales and customer service. Cloud-based labelling provides enhanced visibility and transparency within your warehouse and across the supply chain as a whole, helping firms build strong sustainability strategies.

Cloud-based labelling tools also help to reduce your carbon footprint by cutting inventory and ensure that all products are delivered to the right places when they’re needed, which can eliminate a lot of unnecessary waste. Cloud labelling is, therefore, likely to become increasingly important as the global supply chain continues to evolve and new sustainability regulations are introduced.

Coupling the benefits of SAP 4/HANA cloud based labels with the latest generation of linerless print capabilities, including Zebra’s desktop and mobile printers and Cobalt’s linerless print and apply systems offers even greater opportunities for sustainable enhancements.

Optimising label design with Loftware

Loftware offers solutions designed to easily integrate barcode labelling and RFID with SAP ECC, S4/HANA and any other SAP landscape. This empowers businesses of all sizes to create, manage and print mission-critical labels while offering best-of-breed software to optimise label design and updating.

Whatever your current setup, Loftware has a SAP-certified labelling solution that’s suitable for you. What’s more, when you’re ready to migrate to S4/HANA, Loftware will continue to provide seamless labelling while helping you cut costs, improve agility, reduce errors and boost print output.

At Cobalt, we have the expertise to help you find the perfect SAP-certified Loftware labelling solution and integrate it into your labelling operations, whether for desktop label printing or fully automated print and apply. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.