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Integrating Labeling with SAP – Challenges and Questions

I recently co-presented a successful webinar on Integrating Labeling with SAP for Label Content Integrity and Control (if you’re interested in seeing the webinar you can access the video HERE).

During the webinar we had a couple of live polls, one of which was about the challenges the audience experience in achieving their labeling requirements, particularly in the context of a production manufacturing environment. The results show that:

  • Ensuring compliance is maintained at all times was a challenge for 59% of the audience;
  • 63% of respondents are impacted by the lack of a consistent approach for printing labels across multiple production lines;
  • Being unable to implement real time integration from the labeling system with SAP and PLM systems, was a challenge for 52% of the attendees;
  • The most selected challenge was the lack of a single, centralized label management system, with 70% being affected by this.

While the clear ‘winner’ was the lack of a centralized label and label data management system, there were several other aspects that challenged a significant number of respondents. This poll reinforced what we come across in our dealings with organizations in the Life Sciences industry when discussing their labeling needs and requirements. What’s apparent too, both from the profile of attendees at the webinar and in our day to day contact with customers, is that:

  1. These challenges afflict organizations of any size;
  2. Running a highly efficient manufacturing operation does not necessarily mean that everything is OK once you lift the hood! I guess there’s no great surprise here and there is no implication in terms of lack of compliance or validation, but it does reinforce that label data management can sometimes be treated as a ‘bolt on’ to the core business application strategy. Judging from the response, the webinar provided some food for thought in how to address this and how to embed labeling as an integral part of the production process.

Integration benefits:

Benefits Infographic - Integrating Labeling with SAP  – Challenges and Questions

Naturally, we had a Q&A session and got through a number of the questions that were raised. There were also some interesting questions that we did not have time to answer and, while we have followed up directly with the individuals concerned, many of them are of wider interest so I have shared these below:  

  1. Can label printing be completed by the labels being exported as a .pdf file, which can then be printed by a manufacturing site that does not use SAP?

    Yes. A ‘printer’ can be set up to save the output as a pdf file located in the local file system. In addition, pdf previews can be created during the label approval process and label design process. Non-production labels, whether hard copy or pdf, are, by default, water-marked as ‘test labels’. Some customers then export these files into, for example, their PLM for storing in the master data record (MDR) for the product.

  2. Is [the integration approach described in the webinar] compatible with Windchill PLM?

    Yes. PTC Windchill offers a number of APIs, including RESTful web services. These can be called from the PRISYM 360 integration layer.

  3. Do you have an estimate of SAP/PLM resources or man-hours for implementation? 

    Specific implementation effort will vary between implementations at different customer locations and in a typical PRISYM implementation, details of effort required are determined during project planning meetings based on the User Requirements Specification.

  4. What level of software validation is performed for implementation?

    Exhaustive validation is typically performed on customer implementations as it often touches the cross-functional processes impacting manufacturing (GxP). This will, of course, vary from customer to customer depending on their validation requirements and procedures.

  5. We are using SAP as the ERP system and Windchill for PLM. In SAP we have master data and label data, in Windchill we view and record the labels. Is there a system integration capability from PRISYM 360 into Windchill, so that we can create a change order in Windchill, design the label in PRISYM 360 and pull the labeling data out of SAP?

    Yes. PTC Windchill offers a number of APIs. These can be called from the PRISYM 360 integration layer. What is described in the question is similar to the scenario that was outlined in the webinar, except in that case the PLM was Agile and the data was divided up slightly differently.

Hopefully, some of these insights will be useful to you but, of course, please let us know if you have any other related questions.

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Chris Lentz - Integrating Labeling with SAP  – Challenges and Questions

About the author

Chris Lentz, VP of SAP Business Development, PRISYM ID

Chris, who has worked closely with SAP product management and development for companies where SAP is a strategic partner, is managing PRISYM ID’s status as an SAP Partner Edge Build Partner and drove the certification for PRISYM ID integration with the SAP landscape.

Chris is working with leading systems integrators in the Life Sciences and other sectors to develop fruitful partnerships for both SAP customers and the integrators that are critical for a successful SAP implementation.

Chris has more than 25 years' experience in enterprise software solutions and holds an MSc in Computing for Commerce and Industry.