USING BARCODE FOR SEAFOOD PROCESSING Traceability, Productivity and Compliance Labeling Requirements are driving the seafood industry to use barcode technology—at the dockside, on the production line and in storage & shipping.Production Reporting CHALLENGE Being in the seafood business means getting short shelf-lifeInventory Management products to market as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Wholesalers and retailers are becoming more demandingCase & Pallet Labeling and the processors, in order to comply with new require- ments, are using bar code technology in increasing numbers.Lot Traceability SOLUTIONShipment Verification Alaskan fish processors have been using SIMBA software forAutomated Bill of Lading & over 25 years. It was designed in the late 1980’s with theManifests 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 seafood processors and wholesalers.
SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comA discussion of seafood processors as a Products are pre-defined and variablewhole encompasses several different proc- descriptors can be selected with just theesses: rapid, variable processing (salmon, touch of a button. A corresponding bar-halibut, etc.); batches of same product coded label is printed within seconds,(such as shrimp); large fish processing and the production process is uninter-(example is tuna). Each has different re- rupted. This label may be used to trackquirements and issues to deal with the location of the totes or cartons withinthroughout the process. the processing facility and accumulate shipment data.RAPID PROCESSING OF VARIABLEPRODUCT: PROCESSING OF QUANTITIES OF LIKE PRODUCT:Processors in Alaska, (as well as other ar-eas in the world) often deal with varieties Bulk processing of seafood such asof species and grades within the same shellfish is a bit less complex than highlyproduction run. If they are to label each variable production runs, but no less criti-tote or carton with unique product data it cal in the need to sort, grade and packmust be done quickly so the fish can get quickly.from the dock into the cooler or freezer shellfish and other bulk seafood may bewith minimal production delay. The speed sorted and graded at dockside. Sinceof this process makes it more difficult for a it’s best to affix the barcode label asmanual system to keep up—pen and pa- soon as possible in the tracking process,per are by nature slower and less accurate there are a couple of choices in this in-than a computerized system. However, stance.most computer systems are cumbersomewhen a large volume of variable data mustbe entered. Workstation atOne solution to this problem is touch- dockside withscreen technology. barcode printer Mobile scanning terminal and mobile printer.
SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comOnce the seafood is sorted and labeled, it at least 80% faster than manual data en-can be transported to the processing plant. try. Another frequent reason to use bar-There they may be re-graded and proc- code is to comply with customer re-essed. To maintain lot traceability, a re- quests. A comprehensive label printingboxing or commingling feature in the soft- system will include features that allow forware should be used. printing all the data required onto the la- bel, and for printing in foreign languages,PROCESSING OF LARGE PRODUCT: such as Japanese and Russian.Large seafood such as tuna are also han- In order to print a complex label such asdled at dockside, where the fish is either the Costco label (below), the printer mustoff-loaded from the processor’s own boats, have enough resident memory and aor is purchased from the fishermen. fairly high print speed.Tracking and labeling the fish at the dockmay be accomplished similarly to the bulkseafood using a workstation or mobile so-lution. Alternately, if some of the process-ing occurs at the dock (such as beheadingand gutting) more complex tracking and re-boxing can be handled using a tablet de-signed for harsh conditions and a mobileprinter. COMMINGLING OR PROCESS- ING AND STORING BY LOCA- TION AND DATE Commingling is when product from differ- ent lots (perhaps even different species)Once the product is transported to the are mixed together in a new carton. Thisprocessing plant, again, the re-boxing can happen when the production facilityfunction will maintain traceability. is asked to complete an order fulfillment function for their customer. ProcessingBARCODE LABELING: happens when the facility actually altersThere is more than one reason to use bar- the product (cuts into fillets, adds ingredi-code in the seafood labeling process. ents, etc.) and will necessitate use of aFirst, it provides a unique identifier and al- re-box feature. To maintain lot controllows for fast and accurate tracking from and traceability, the software used mustdock or receiving through the processing have commingling or re-boxing function-plant, into storage and onto the van for ality. You will find this in software spe-shipping. Barcode is 99.99% accurate and cially designed for fresh food.
SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comTRACK BY LOT OR BY CARTON? retain proof of what was contained in a specific shipment. Using a method ofThere are two methods of maintaining shipment verification (sometimes calledtraceability: (1) track the lots as they move “van loading”) solves this problem.through the supply chain; (2) track lotswithin cartons as the cartons move As cartons are accumulated onto palletsthrough the supply chain. and loaded onto vans, each is accounted for using a barcode scanning application.If a simple lot tracking method is used, as Each carton number is assigned to a vanlots are commingled, all the included lots and included on the manifest, which isare considered contaminated in the case automatically produced. When a cus-of 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. tomer claims there are cartons missing, it is now possible to prove what was loaded.A better method is by using a carton track- SUMMARYing scheme. The software accumulatescarton data, defining which cartons contain The use of barcode in a fish processingwhich Lots. Then when Lot B is contami- environment can be key to a well-runnated, only cartons B, A/B and B/C are re- and profitable business. Solutions rangecalled. This tracking method (re-boxing from simple to very complex, and fromlots by carton) would also pertain to any inexpensive to over $1 million. It is im-recalled ingredients in processed foods. portant that you list the key elements that will be required for your system to bothTHE IMPORTANCE OF SHIPMENT satisfy your customers and provide youVERIFICATION with access to the information that you need to run your business at the highestEvery company has had shipment dis- level of efficiency, accuracy and profit-putes. Ideally it would be possible to ability.
SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comThese features include:• Carton-based re-boxing—Ability to track lots by carton within the re-box or commingling process. It will save you time and money.• Mobile label printing—Ability to pro- duce labels at dockside as well as in the processing plant if you do any sort- ing or grading right off the boat.• Rapid label printing—If you process multiple species, you will need the ca- pability to print complex and variable labels quickly. Include on the list your compliance labeling needs (foreign lan- guages, etc.)• Ease of use—make sure the system can accumulate attributes, print bar- code labels and track cartons & lots without too many key strokes• Speed & Flexibility—collecting that much information can take time if the data collection scheme isn’t efficient.• Shipment Verification—record ship- ments by carton and van number to satisfy any disputes.*Flow charts of the various scenarios discussed areavailable upon request.Learn more at:http://www.a-barcode.com/software/food-traceability/Call 800-342-3999 ext. 240