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++ Seafood processors production.inventory

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++ Seafood processors production.inventory

  1. 1. Traceability, Productivity and ComplianceLabeling Requirements are driving the seafoodindustry to use barcode technology—at the dockside,on the production line and in storage & shipping.Being in the seafood 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 seafood processors andwholesalers.CHALLENGESOLUTIONFLEXIBILITYUSING BARCODE FORSEAFOOD PROCESSINGProduction ReportingInventory ManagementCase & Pallet LabelingLot TraceabilityShipment VerificationAutomated Bill of Lading &Manifests
  2. 2. A discussion of seafood processors as awhole encompasses several different proc-esses: rapid, variable processing (salmon,halibut, etc.); batches of same product(such as shrimp); large fish processing(example is tuna). Each has different re-quirements and issues to deal withthroughout the process.RAPID PROCESSING OF VARIABLEPRODUCT:Processors in Alaska, (as well as other ar-eas in the world) often deal with varietiesof species and grades within the sameproduction run. If they are to label eachtote or carton with unique product data itmust be done quickly so the fish can getfrom the dock into the cooler or freezerwith minimal production delay. The speedof this process makes it more difficult for amanual system to keep up—pen and pa-per are by nature slower and less accuratethan a computerized system. However,most computer systems are cumbersomewhen a large volume of variable data mustbe entered.One solution to this problem is touch-screen technology.Products are pre-defined and variabledescriptors can be selected with just thetouch of a button. A corresponding bar-coded label is printed within seconds,and the production process is uninter-rupted. This label may be used to trackthe location of the totes or cartons withinthe processing facility and accumulateshipment data.PROCESSING OF QUANTITIES OFLIKE PRODUCT:Bulk processing of seafood such asshellfish is a bit less complex than highlyvariable production runs, but no less criti-cal in the need to sort, grade and packquickly.shellfish and other bulk seafood may besorted and graded at dockside. Sinceit’s best to affix the barcode label assoon as possible in the tracking process,there are a couple of choices in this in-stance.Workstation atdockside withbarcode printerMobile scanning terminaland mobile printer.SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  3. 3. Once the seafood is sorted and labeled, itcan be transported to the processing plant.There they may be re-graded and proc-essed. To maintain lot traceability, a re-boxing or commingling feature in the soft-ware should be used.PROCESSING OF LARGE PRODUCT:Large seafood such as tuna are also han-dled at dockside, where the fish is eitheroff-loaded from the processor’s own boats,or is purchased from the fishermen.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.Once the product is transported to theprocessing plant, again, the re-boxingfunction will maintain traceability.BARCODE LABELING:There is more than one reason to use bar-code in the seafood labeling process.First, it provides a unique identifier and al-lows for fast and accurate tracking fromdock or receiving through the processingplant, into storage and onto the van forshipping. Barcode is 99.99% accurate andat least 80% faster than manual data en-try. Another frequent reason to use bar-code is to comply with customer re-quests. A comprehensive label printingsystem will include features that allow forprinting all the data required onto the la-bel, and for printing in foreign languages,such as Japanese and Russian.In order to print a complex label such asthe Costco label (below), the printer musthave enough resident memory and afairly high print speed.COMMINGLING OR PROCESS-ING AND STORING BY LOCA-TION AND DATECommingling is when product from differ-ent lots (perhaps even different species)are mixed together in a new carton. Thiscan happen when the production facilityis asked to complete an order fulfillmentfunction for their customer. Processinghappens when the facility actually altersthe product (cuts into fillets, adds ingredi-ents, etc.) and will necessitate use of are-box feature. To maintain lot controland traceability, the software used musthave commingling or re-boxing function-ality. You will find this in software spe-cially designed for fresh food.SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  4. 4. 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 carton track-ing scheme. The software accumulatescarton data, defining which cartons containwhich Lots. Then when Lot B is contami-nated, only cartons B, A/B and B/C are re-called. This tracking method (re-boxinglots by carton) would also pertain to anyrecalled ingredients in processed foods.THE IMPORTANCE OF SHIPMENTVERIFICATIONEvery company has had shipment dis-putes. Ideally it would be possible toretain 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, which isautomatically produced. When a cus-tomer claims there are cartons missing, itis now possible to prove what wasloaded.SUMMARYThe use of barcode in a fish processingenvironment can be key to a well-runand profitable 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.SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com
  5. 5. These features include:• Carton-based re-boxing—Ability totrack lots by carton within the re-box orcommingling process. It will save youtime and money.• Mobile label printing—Ability to pro-duce labels at dockside as well as inthe processing plant if you do any sort-ing or grading right off the boat.• Rapid label printing—If you processmultiple species, you will need the ca-pability to print complex and variablelabels quickly. Include on the list yourcompliance labeling needs (foreign lan-guages, etc.)• 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.• Shipment Verification—record ship-ments by carton and van number tosatisfy 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. 240SEAFOOD PROCESSING, STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.com

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