Printed labels are used extensively in manufacturing for a variety of purposes, for example:

  • WIP and Finished goods labeling – pallets, boxes, cartons, individual products.
  • Product identification
  • Product information
  • Safety and hazard warnings

Finished goods and WIP labels are usually printed with bar codes and text information. Labels are typically designed to be large enough to be easily read (e.g. for the fork lift truck driver) and with easily accessible bar codes for manual or automatic scanning. Finished Goods labels may have additional requirements specified by particular customers. Also typically, the barcodes are serialised to uniquely identify products and batch numbers to support traceability.

There are many packages on the market that allow labels to be designed and printed, incorporating all the information required, including barcodes. However, the operational printing and issuing of labels can be a problem. For example in many cases labels are pre-printed and issued to the shop floor along with the Production Orders. This requires that labels are prepared in advance – which takes time and resources and is prone to error.

The problem gets worse when other operational problems happen for example where Production Orders are stopped early; or rescheduled; or moved to another line; in which case the labels may have to be re-printed. These are just some of the problems with pre-printing labels, and of course they can easily get damaged or lost.

Inevitably not every label printed is used; this creates a blind spot and weakness in traceability. The only way to verify what has been produced is to scan the labels, but typically this is done later in the warehouse, creating a gap between what happens in production and what arrives in the warehouse later. If subsequently a label can’t be found does it mean that the goods were never made or were they lost?

In other situations, operators go to stand-alone printing stations to print labels requiring them to make selections e.g. choose the right label and record traceability information, which is again time-consuming and error prone.


The Label Printing module of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition is able to print labels automatically at the point of production, on demand. Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition knows the Production Order being executed; it knows the specific label design required (could be different for different customers); it also knows all the traceability information typically printed like the line, the shift, the time of production; and it can generate the unique serial number for the goods. All this information it can be easily put onto the label – with no need for anyone to do anything. In summary:

  • automatically selects the correct design – e.g. different labels for different customers
  • automatically generates serial numbers
  • automatically prints multiple labels (in some applications each package may require more than one label, and they may be of different designs)
  • send labels to the correct printer (by the line) and send labels to alternative printers in case of a problem
  • reprint labels that have been damaged
  • print other labels for example product information or safety notices
  • integrate with ERP systems to upload WIP and finished goods

When Used with Other Modules

When the Label Printing module is used in conjunction with other modules of Shopfloor-OnlineTM Lifescience Edition more opportunities open up. For example:

  • Link with ERP systems (e.g. SAP, Oracle) – to automatically confirm production. This can improve the speed and accuracy of production confirmation. In back-flushing applications it means that you have stock decremented earlier, giving planners a better handle on material availability.
  • Feed the OEE module with live production counts based on inventory created, to give live production reporting, efficiency and OEE information.
  • Use with the inventory modules to support live inventory management.


  • Improved traceability – the system knows all of the traceability information at the time of printing and prints it accurately on the label. Additionally, you know what has been produced from the moment it has been labelled. You have complete visibility of goods from production through to the warehouse
  • Reduced effort – it eliminates the work of pre-printing labels
  • Fewer mistakes – the system knows everything it needs to and always prints the correct label, with the right information, every time.
  • Less waste – because the printing is on demand, every ticket printed is used.
  • Real-time visibility – as each label is printed on demand, you have a real-time picture of production. It is possible to track production rates and from there OEE reports