For Cincinnati-based energy-efficient lighting specialist LSI Industries Inc., the LED (light-emitting diode) revolution has brought both challenges and opportunities. On the plus side, it's been good for LSI's LED-based fixtures business, kicking demand into high gear. On the downside, it has introduced some complications to the back end of the operation.
One area that was feeling the strain was product labeling. As LSI's lighting division continued to expand its product offerings and customer base, the company found it increasingly challenging to manage the vast and growing number of safety labels required for its electrical products. Essentially, the division needed a way to make the process more efficient. So a couple years back, it launched a search for a solution that would streamline the task.
As for what it wanted in a new system, LSI had a pretty clear idea of its requirements. For instance, it wanted the capacity to print labels from multiple locations as well as to proactively manage—and comply with—ongoing and emerging product safety requirements. But most of all, LSI was seeking a way to simplify the labor-intensive process of maintaining and updating its label files.
"Over the years, we had developed thousands of labels that required a serious commitment in time and effort to maintain," said Tom Cantrell, LSI's manager of product and manufacturing support, in prepared remarks. "We were looking to reduce the time spent maintaining these files."
LSI found the solution it sought in two software packages from Teklynx International, a Whitefish Bay, Wis.-based bar-code and radio-frequency identification (RFID) labeling software developer. The first, Codesoft, is a bar-code label design system that can be integrated with the customer's enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Linking its label design software with its ERP would allow LSI to eliminate static label files—along with the associated ongoing maintenance of those files—and replace them with database-driven templates.
The second, Sentinel, is a label printing automation solution that enables users to centrally print on hundreds of printers at the same time. With the new software, LSI would be able to print labels at multiple facilities, with plenty of capacity to accommodate future growth.
Using the new software packages, LSI says it has:
For his part, Cantrell says the new solution has made label management far more efficient. "Say I need to change the word 'luminaire' to 'fixture,'" he said. "Now I can change it in one place instead of going through all those files. And we can incorporate any of the outlying facilities in addition to the corporate office, so it gives me a wealth of opportunity to standardize processes and share our knowledge base."