Distribution Centers (DC’s) face their own unique set of challenges compared to other industries. Specific processes and materials are pre-established so each picking/shipping line is fast, efficient and making money at a specific rate. Centers large and small rely on these methods to ensure that each line is running; as when one goes down, they lose money. Sometimes fulfillment centers get so consumed with their specific workflow, that they do not research other distribution solutions that can make them even better. Labels are the largest variable in the equasion.
Labels dictate everything on a line. Without the right printers, workers and sometimes applicators, a label has the power to shut down production very quickly. Many DC’s, mainly small to medium sized, utilize laser printers and labels to effectively keep things up and running; however, a big misconception is because they are smaller, thermal and direct thermals are not cost effective enough for them to switch. That is simply not the case anymore.
Thermal and Direct Thermal Labels are helping DC’s achieve many things they never thought possible. First, there are now labels on the market that combine a packing slip and shipping label; eliminating both the need for a “packing slip enclosed” pouch, as well as decreasing costly mismatching errors. Because these label allow you to peel both the shipping and packing slip label, they are great for keeping a customers identity safe after you throw the carton away. Two great products for these options are Duplex Shipping Labels and Fold Under Labels. And a nice perk is if a DC cannot afford to invest in direct thermal printers, there are still laser versions of the same product.
Cost is a major inhibitor with some fulfillment centers when transitioning over to thermal or direct thermal applications. Many businesses forget to calculate per year how much they spend on toner, laser printer maintenance, materials, and employee labor involved when using these applications. Although there is cost involved when you switch labels, mainly for new printers, normally once a company figures all variables, they end up being more efficient, which speeds up product for a better output. Even if you choose a thermal application and have to order printer ribbons, a business will still see increased efficiency and more money.
Regardless of what option a DC chooses when it comes to their warehouse labels, there are many on the market to choose from. Taking the time to calculate all costs involved in current, and future, processes will be the best way to decide if a move over to thermal and direct thermal labels is a good one.