"++ Cold Storage - 3rd Party Fresh Food"
COLD STORAGE Traceability, Productivity and Compliance Labeling Requirements (such as GS-1) are driving the fresh food industry to use barcode technology—at the dock-side, in the field, at the production line and in storage. Receiving CHALLENGE Being in the fresh food business means getting short shelf-life Inventory Management products to market as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Wholesalers and retailers are becoming more demanding Case & Pallet Labeling and the processors, in order to comply with new require- Lot Traceability ments, are using bar code technology in increasing numbers. SOLUTION Shipment Verification Alaskan fish processors have been using SIMBA software for Automated Bill of Lading & over 25 years. It was designed in the late 1980’s with the Manifests purpose of reporting daily production to management and sales. Since then, the system has expanded to include print- ing compliance labels, tracking inventory, shipment verifica- tion, and complete lot traceability for food safety. FLEXIBILITY The fresh food industry encompasses everything from fish to produce to meat and poultry to berries and citrus fruits. Each product has its own unique challenges for production, han- dling and food safety. The following is a discussion of avail- able and scalable solutions for cold storage companies when handling fresh food products. FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com Cold Storage companies are most often request. No processing or commin- managing products owned by their cus- gling is required. Traceability is more tomers. This “temporary custody” of fresh simple—keep track of the drums by lot product includes the requirement for con- until shipped and report to the manufac- firming item/quantity/location, for lot trace- turer. ability, for maintaining freshness, and for SOLUTION shipment verification. The software solution for Scenario 1 may include: Barcode Labeling: Upon receipt, the facility may print a barcode label that ties to the pertinent details in an inventory management database or on an excel spreadsheet. The database details could include grower, lot number, prod- uct code, date received, storage location. Inventory Control: If the drum is within the facility, a simple scan of the barcode label and entry (or scan) of the new loca- SCENARIO 1: Receive/Store/Ship tion code updates the inventory software In this example the Cold Storage company database. is an inventory location for the product Palletizing: Some product traceability owned by their customer and performs no and inventory management software so- value-added functions. lutions provide for accumulating units The facility may be the first point of owner- (drums, cartons, etc.) onto a pallet and ship of the product for their customer. For tracking all units with one “pallet label”. example, a berry jam manufacturer pur- Shipping & Shipment Verification: Once chases cooked berries from a number of the owner of the goods requests a ship- local growers. The drums of berries are ment, that transaction may be captured shipped directly to the 3rd party cold stor- in the software and, in more advanced age facilities who hold the product in a systems, the Manifest and Bill of Lading temperature-controlled environment until may be automatically produced. they are needed for a production run. The manufacturer has required the cold storage facility to report upon receipt of the drums - which grower sent the berries, what is the product code and quantity? - and to ship specific drums to them upon FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com USING BARCODE FOR SCENARIO 1 commingle lots or perform any process- SOLUTIONS ing may chose a fairly straight-forward Inventory Management Software. A cou- Print Barcode Labels/Store on Database: ple of features to look for: This solution is the simplest and includes 3 pieces. • The ability to store an item in multiple locations. Not all inventory manage- • Barcode Label Printer: Prices can ment software allows for this, and a range from a low of $500 up to $4,000 problem can occur if there isn’t enough space in a specific location for the quantity on hand. • The ability to track lots. Again, this is not always available and will be criti- cal for any cold storage company with traceability requirements. Inventory management software has a wide range in price also. It can be pur- depending on the number of labels chased from as low as $2,000 to highs of printed in a time period. Most require- $500,000 or more for those that have ments can be addressed for about advanced warehouse management fea- $1400. tures. • Label Design Software: A single-user When choosing mobile barcode devices version that will allow printing from an think about your environment. excel spreadsheet or database will run about $450. The least expensive mobile pda’s are the • Stand-alone or networked PC: The PC most fragile. Ware- doesn’t have to be very powerful. It house locations are just needs to have a USB port for the notoriously hard on printer and minimal memory/storage. equipment, so you will want a hardware This solution is the least expensive, the solution that has a high IP rating. (IP65 easiest to install and the easiest to use. It is sealed from dust and sprayed water; does not address the need to record in- ask about the “drop test” and get one ventory locations, palletize or verify ship- that can withstand multiple 6’ drops to ment information. It does provide lot trace- concrete). ability as long as a lot number is captured If the mobile devices will be used in in the database. freezers it’s best to get ones that are Moving to the more advanced solutions, a “non-condensing”. This means they Cold Storage facility that is not required to won’t fog up when being used. FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com SCENARIO 2: COMMINGLING OR is recalled, so are Lots A&C in their en- PROCESSING AND STORING BY tirety. This can get expensive. LOCATION AND DATE A better method is by using a carton tracking scheme. The software accumu- Commingling is when product from differ- lates carton data, defining which cartons ent lots (perhaps even different species) contain which Lots. Then when Lot B is are mixed together in a new carton. This contaminated, only can happen when the Cold Storage facility cartons B, A/B and is asked to complete an order fulfillment B/C are recalled. function for their customer. Processing This tracking happens when the facility actually alters method (re-boxing the product (cuts into fillets, adds ingredi- lots by carton) ents, etc.) To maintain lot control and would also pertain traceability, the software used must have to any recalled in- re-boxing or commingling functionality. gredients in proc- You will find this only in software specially essed foods. designed for fresh food. For a Cold Storage company, the risk of TRACK BY LOT OR BY CARTON? a cooler or freezer malfunction must also There are two methods of maintaining be considered. If that happens, the car- traceability: (1) track the lots as they move tons in that location at the date of the through the supply chain; (2) track lots malfunction should be tracked and de- within cartons as the cartons move stroyed. Again, unless the lots are through the supply chain. tracked within each carton, the risk of having to recall the entire lot rather than If a simple lot tracking method is used, as the affected cartons is a real possibility. lots are commingled, all the included lots are considered contaminated in the case THE IMPORTANCE OF SHIPMENT of a recall. For example: VERIFICATION Lot B is Commingled with a portion of Lots Every company has had shipment dis- A&C (see diagram). Because there is no putes. Ideally it would be possible to re- way in a straight-forward lot tracking tain proof of what was contained in a scheme to differentiate which portions of specific shipment. Using a method of Lots A&C have been commingled, if Lot B shipment verification (sometimes called “van loading”) solves this problem. As cartons are accumulated onto pallets and loaded onto vans, each is accounted for using a barcode scanning application. Each carton number is assigned to a van and included on the manifest. FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com USING BARCODE FOR SCENARIO 2 .Other key features to look for: SOLUTIONS • Ease of use—make sure the system A system that address the Lot tracking re- can accumulate attributes, print bar- quirements of Scenario 2 will include all of code labels and track cartons & lots the features of the inventory management without too many key strokes system in Scenario 1 plus the following. • Speed & Flexibility—collecting that much information can take time if the data collection scheme isn’t efficient. • Track by Carton—we’ve already dis- cussed how tracking lots within car- tons will save money. • Shipment Verification—record ship- ments by carton and van number to satisfy any disputes. CONCLUSION Printing the Carton Label: A carton label The use of barcode in Cold Storage envi- may be as simple as a serialized number, ronments can be key to a well-run and as specific as a GS-1 label, and as com- profitable business. Solutions range plex as a Costco-compliant label. from simple to very complex, and from Whichever is the case, find an inventory inexpensive to over $1 million. It is im- management system that allows for the portant that you list the key elements that most complex label you can envision. will be required for your system to both satisfy your customers and provide you Boxing, Re-boxing and Commingling: with access to the information that you The requirements for Commingling and Re need to run your business at the highest -boxing are unique to products that have level of efficiency, accuracy and profit- the potential of recontamination or recall ability. (fresh foods, drugs). It’s important to find Learn more at: a software solution that accounts for these http :// www. a- b ar c ode . c om /s of twar e/f oo d- situations by tracking expiration dates and traceability/ lot numbers—and that has a tracking scheme that mitigates losses in the case Call 800-342-3999 ext. 240 of a recall. The ability to track products by various attributes (size, grade, owner, etc.) is also unique and important in the fresh food industry