++ Cold storage 3rd party fresh food


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++ Cold storage 3rd party fresh food

  1. 1. Traceability, Productivity and ComplianceLabeling Requirements (such as GS-1) are drivingthe fresh food industry to use barcode technology—atthe dock-side, in the field, at the production line and instorage.Being in the fresh food business means getting short shelf-lifeproducts to market as quickly and cost effectively as possible.Wholesalers and retailers are becoming more demandingand the processors, in order to comply with new require-ments, are using bar code technology in increasing numbers.Alaskan fish processors have been using SIMBA software forover 25 years. It was designed in the late 1980’s with thepurpose of reporting daily production to management andsales. Since then, the system has expanded to include print-ing compliance labels, tracking inventory, shipment verifica-tion, and complete lot traceability for food safety.The fresh food industry encompasses everything from fish toproduce to meat and poultry to berries and citrus fruits. Eachproduct 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 whenhandling fresh food products.CHALLENGESOLUTIONFLEXIBILITYCOLD STORAGEReceivingInventory ManagementCase & Pallet LabelingLot TraceabilityShipment VerificationAutomated Bill of Lading &Manifests
  2. 2. Cold Storage companies are most oftenmanaging products owned by their cus-tomers. This “temporary custody” of freshproduct includes the requirement for con-firming item/quantity/location, for lot trace-ability, for maintaining freshness, and forshipment verification.SCENARIO 1: Receive/Store/ShipIn this example the Cold Storage companyis an inventory location for the productowned by their customer and performs novalue-added functions.The facility may be the first point of owner-ship of the product for their customer. Forexample, a berry jam manufacturer pur-chases cooked berries from a number oflocal growers. The drums of berries areshipped directly to the 3rd party cold stor-age facilities who hold the product in atemperature-controlled environment untilthey are needed for a production run.The manufacturer has required the coldstorage facility to report upon receipt of thedrums - which grower sent the berries,what is the product code and quantity? -and to ship specific drums to them uponrequest. No processing or commin-gling is required. Traceability is moresimple—keep track of the drums by lotuntil shipped and report to the manufac-turer.SOLUTIONThe software solution for Scenario 1 mayinclude:Barcode Labeling: Upon receipt, thefacility may print a barcode label that tiesto the pertinent details in an inventorymanagement database or on an excelspreadsheet. The database detailscould include grower, lot number, prod-uct code, date received, storage location.Inventory Control: If the drum is withinthe facility, a simple scan of the barcodelabel and entry (or scan) of the new loca-tion code updates the inventory softwaredatabase.Palletizing: Some product traceabilityand inventory management software so-lutions provide for accumulating units(drums, cartons, etc.) onto a pallet andtracking all units with one “pallet label”.Shipping & Shipment Verification: Oncethe owner of the goods requests a ship-ment, that transaction may be capturedin the software and, in more advancedsystems, the Manifest and Bill of Ladingmay be automatically produced.FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  3. 3. USING BARCODE FOR SCENARIO 1SOLUTIONSPrint Barcode Labels/Store on Database:This solution is the simplest and includes 3pieces.• Barcode Label Printer: Prices canrange from a low of $500 up to $4,000depending on the number of labelsprinted in a time period. Most require-ments can be addressed for about$1400.• Label Design Software: A single-userversion that will allow printing from anexcel spreadsheet or database will runabout $450.• Stand-alone or networked PC: The PCdoesn’t have to be very powerful. Itjust needs to have a USB port for theprinter and minimal memory/storage.This solution is the least expensive, theeasiest to install and the easiest to use. Itdoes not address the need to record in-ventory locations, palletize or verify ship-ment information. It does provide lot trace-ability as long as a lot number is capturedin the database.Moving to the more advanced solutions, aCold Storage facility that is not required tocommingle lots or perform any process-ing may chose a fairly straight-forwardInventory Management Software. A cou-ple of features to look for:• The ability to store an item in multiplelocations. Not all inventory manage-ment software allows for this, and aproblem can occur if there isn’tenough space in a specific locationfor the quantity on hand.• The ability to track lots. Again, this isnot always available and will be criti-cal for any cold storage company withtraceability requirements.Inventory management software has awide range in price also. It can be pur-chased from as low as $2,000 to highs of$500,000 or more for those that haveadvanced warehouse management fea-tures.When choosing mobile barcode devicesthink about your environment.The least expensivemobile pda’s are themost fragile. Ware-house locations arenotoriously hard onequipment, so you will want a hardwaresolution that has a high IP rating. (IP65is sealed from dust and sprayed water;ask about the “drop test” and get onethat can withstand multiple 6’ drops toconcrete).If the mobile devices will be used infreezers it’s best to get ones that are“non-condensing”. This means theywon’t fog up when being used.FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  4. 4. SCENARIO 2: COMMINGLING ORPROCESSING AND STORING BYLOCATION AND DATECommingling is when product from differ-ent lots (perhaps even different species)are mixed together in a new carton. Thiscan happen when the Cold Storage facilityis asked to complete an order fulfillmentfunction for their customer. Processinghappens when the facility actually altersthe product (cuts into fillets, adds ingredi-ents, etc.) To maintain lot control andtraceability, the software used must havere-boxing or commingling functionality.You will find this only in software speciallydesigned for fresh food.TRACK BY LOT OR BY CARTON?There are two methods of maintainingtraceability: (1) track the lots as they movethrough the supply chain; (2) track lotswithin cartons as the cartons movethrough the supply chain.If a simple lot tracking method is used, aslots are commingled, all the included lotsare considered contaminated in the caseof a recall. For example:Lot B is Commingled with a portion of LotsA&C (see diagram). Because there is noway in a straight-forward lot trackingscheme to differentiate which portions ofLots A&C have been commingled, if Lot Bis recalled, so are Lots A&C in their en-tirety. This can get expensive.A better method is by using a cartontracking scheme. The software accumu-lates carton data, defining which cartonscontain which Lots. Then when Lot B iscontaminated, onlycartons B, A/B andB/C are recalled.This trackingmethod (re-boxinglots by carton)would also pertainto any recalled in-gredients in proc-essed foods.For a Cold Storage company, the risk ofa cooler or freezer malfunction must alsobe considered. If that happens, the car-tons in that location at the date of themalfunction should be tracked and de-stroyed. Again, unless the lots aretracked within each carton, the risk ofhaving to recall the entire lot rather thanthe affected cartons is a real possibility.THE IMPORTANCE OF SHIPMENTVERIFICATIONEvery company has had shipment dis-putes. Ideally it would be possible to re-tain proof of what was contained in aspecific shipment. Using a method ofshipment verification (sometimes called“van loading”) solves this problem.As cartons are accumulated onto palletsand loaded onto vans, each is accountedfor using a barcode scanning application.Each carton number is assigned to a vanand included on the manifest.FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  5. 5. USING BARCODE FOR SCENARIO 2SOLUTIONSA system that address the Lot tracking re-quirements of Scenario 2 will include all ofthe features of the inventory managementsystem in Scenario 1 plus the following.Printing the Carton Label: A carton labelmay be as simple as a serialized number,as specific as a GS-1 label, and as com-plex as a Costco-compliant label.Whichever is the case, find an inventorymanagement system that allows for themost complex label you can envision.Boxing, Re-boxing and Commingling:The requirements for Commingling and Re-boxing are unique to products that havethe potential of recontamination or recall(fresh foods, drugs). It’s important to finda software solution that accounts for thesesituations by tracking expiration dates andlot numbers—and that has a trackingscheme that mitigates losses in the caseof a recall. The ability to track products byvarious attributes (size, grade, owner, etc.)is also unique and important in the freshfood industry.Other key features to look for:• Ease of use—make sure the systemcan accumulate attributes, print bar-code labels and track cartons & lotswithout too many key strokes• Speed & Flexibility—collecting thatmuch information can take time if thedata 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 tosatisfy any disputes.CONCLUSIONThe use of barcode in Cold Storage envi-ronments can be key to a well-run andprofitable business. Solutions rangefrom simple to very complex, and frominexpensive to over $1 million. It is im-portant that you list the key elements thatwill be required for your system to bothsatisfy your customers and provide youwith access to the information that youneed to run your business at the highestlevel of efficiency, accuracy and profit-ability.Learn more at:http://www.a-barcode.com/software/food-traceability/Call 800-342-3999 ext. 240FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com