For manufacturers, supply disruptions related to the polycrisis have made the idea of ‘business as usual’ obsolete, as companies struggle with delays in production and shipping, inventory management challenges, quality control issues, rising costs, penalties, and customer dissatisfaction.

Although the ongoing instability in our global supply chains is expected to persist in the foreseeable future, there are measures that businesses can implement to adjust, and those that do so may gain a competitive edge, as pointed out by Lee Metters, Group Business Development Director at Domino Printing Sciences.


Amidst the current challenges faced by supply chains, one solution stands out: flexibility. Disrupted supply chains and shortages of raw materials may require manufacturers to make sudden adjustments to production orders. In such a volatile environment, flexibility is crucial.

It’s often easier for manufacturers to alter products, such as incorporating variations in ingredients, rather than changing packaging, which is typically outsourced and involves long lead times. Typically, changes to product packaging design occur at packaging sites rather than production facilities. However, the market is evolving, presenting an opportunity to integrate coding, marking, and digital printing technology within manufacturing facilities. This digital convergence allows for late-stage customization of product packaging, granting manufacturers and brands greater control and agility than ever before.

Advanced digital printing technologies, offering high resolution, are now being adapted for use on production lines, enabling manufacturers to introduce more customized packaging within their facilities. This capability provides a means for companies to swiftly respond to changing circumstances, including last-minute alterations to production runs due to material shortages. In-line and near-line product packaging printing can empower manufacturers to adjust product labels in response to material availability, without depending on last-minute deliveries from external packaging providers.

Additionally, brands employing late-stage customization may experience reduced changeover times, particularly when transitioning between batches of products sharing the same ingredients but targeted towards different end markets, necessitating varying packaging—such as regional language variations. Although the time saved between runs may seem minimal, it could accumulate throughout the day, allowing for additional production runs within a single shift.

Looking ahead, brands equipped for late-stage customization of product packaging may find themselves better equipped to adapt to changes in labeling regulations and ingredient availability, explore new markets and language variations, and develop promotional packaging for short-term campaigns—without incurring excessive waste or costs associated with minimum order requirements.


Another critical measure in addressing supply chain challenges is the traceability and visibility of products as they traverse through supply chains. Especially during periods of high demand or when confronted with stock shortages and delays, enhanced visibility can aid manufacturers in accurately predicting lead times, managing stock requirements, and meeting customer expectations.

Incorporating variable product data, such as batch and product information, embedded within scannable 2D codes, is one method of enhancing visibility within supply chains. With late-stage customization, this can be implemented within the factory without the need for alterations to product packaging at packaging converters.

Scannable 2D codes facilitate data sharing across the supply chain, enabling brands and supply chain partners to track products both upstream and downstream, and provide real-time status updates. This increased flow of data offers valuable insights into inefficiencies and areas susceptible to waste or leakage, allowing brands to optimize their operations, enhance resilience, and mitigate risks.

In addition to addressing the existing supply chain challenges, incorporating 2D codes into product packaging can yield significant commercial advantages for brands. These benefits range from enhancing consumer engagement to reducing waste and safeguarding against counterfeiting.


Disrupted supply chains often lead to significant challenges on production lines, such as the need for last-minute adjustments to production runs and overtime requirements to fulfill commitments upon the arrival of shipments. Manufacturers still reliant on traditional, manual production processes may struggle to effectively respond to these challenges and maintain productivity.

The intricacies of modern manufacturing demand high levels of control and agility, achievable only through the establishment of trusted, repeatable processes that enhance efficiency and mitigate the risk of costly errors. Embracing automation in coding and marking represents one avenue for manufacturers to enhance control and agility.

Through automated coding solutions, manufacturers can streamline systems to handle routine, error-prone tasks, thereby enhancing efficiency and enabling the reallocation of factory resources to critical areas, ensuring the seamless progression of products through production and out of the factory.

In addition to reducing the risk of coding errors and associated downtime, coding automation offers manufacturers a seamless communication channel and opportunities for enhanced visibility and data sharing. This business intelligence proves invaluable when managing fluctuating production schedules. Understanding the daily coded item count can aid in maintaining appropriate inventory levels, encompassing packaging materials, labels, inks, and makeup supply—everything essential for the smooth operation of production lines.

Companies investing in automated coding solutions today will be better prepared to navigate future challenges. In the long run, automation can lower operating costs, eradicate errors, and bolster resilience and productivity.


Given the multifaceted and pervasive impact of the polycrisis, it’s improbable that supply chain challenges will be swiftly resolved. Nevertheless, manufacturers can begin to navigate this turbulent landscape by adopting solutions that enhance flexibility, visibility, and control, such as late-stage customization and coding automation. Those who embrace these strategies will undoubtedly unlock opportunities for business growth and success.

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