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-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-Lot Traceability ments, are using bar code technology in increasing numbers. 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 cold storage companies when handling fresh food products.
FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comCold Storage companies are most often request. No processing or commin-managing products owned by their cus- gling is required. Traceability is moretomers. This “temporary custody” of fresh simple—keep track of the drums by lotproduct 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 SOLUTIONshipment 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 softwareIn this example the Cold Storage company database.is an inventory location for the product Palletizing: Some product traceabilityowned by their customer and performs no and inventory management software so-value-added functions. lutions provide for accumulating unitsThe facility may be the first point of owner- (drums, cartons, etc.) onto a pallet andship of the product for their customer. For tracking all units with one “pallet label”.example, a berry jam manufacturer pur- Shipping & Shipment Verification: Oncechases 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 capturedshipped directly to the 3rd party cold stor- in the software and, in more advancedage facilities who hold the product in a systems, the Manifest and Bill of Ladingtemperature-controlled environment until may be automatically produced.they 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 upon
FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comUSING 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 3pieces. • 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 hardwareThis solution is the least expensive, the solution that has a high IP rating. (IP65easiest 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 oneventory locations, palletize or verify ship- that can withstand multiple 6’ drops toment information. It does provide lot trace- concrete).ability as long as a lot number is captured If the mobile devices will be used inin the database. freezers it’s best to get ones that areMoving to the more advanced solutions, a “non-condensing”. This means theyCold Storage facility that is not required to won’t fog up when being used.
FRESH FOOD STORAGE & TRACEABILITY—DYNAMIC SYSTEMS INC. www.a-barcode.comSCENARIO 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 cartonsent lots (perhaps even different species) contain which Lots. Then when Lot B isare mixed together in a new carton. This contaminated, onlycan happen when the Cold Storage facility cartons B, A/B andis asked to complete an order fulfillment B/C are recalled.function for their customer. Processing This trackinghappens when the facility actually alters method (re-boxingthe product (cuts into fillets, adds ingredi- lots by carton)ents, etc.) To maintain lot control and would also pertaintraceability, 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 ofTRACK BY LOT OR BY CARTON? a cooler or freezer malfunction must alsoThere 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 thethrough the supply chain; (2) track lots malfunction should be tracked and de-within cartons as the cartons move stroyed. Again, unless the lots arethrough the supply chain. tracked within each carton, the risk of having to recall the entire lot rather thanIf a simple lot tracking method is used, as the affected cartons is a real possibility.lots are commingled, all the included lotsare considered contaminated in the case THE IMPORTANCE OF SHIPMENTof a recall. For example: VERIFICATIONLot 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 ascheme to differentiate which portions of specific shipment. Using a method ofLots 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.comUSING BARCODE FOR SCENARIO 2 .Other key features to look for:SOLUTIONS • Ease of use—make sure the systemA 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 & lotsthe features of the inventory management without too many key strokessystem 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. CONCLUSIONPrinting 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 andas specific as a GS-1 label, and as com- profitable business. Solutions rangeplex as a Costco-compliant label. from simple to very complex, and fromWhichever 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 thatmost complex label you can envision. will be required for your system to both satisfy your customers and provide youBoxing, Re-boxing and Commingling: with access to the information that youThe 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 trackingscheme that mitigates losses in the case Call 800-342-3999 ext. 240of a recall. The ability to track products byvarious attributes (size, grade, owner, etc.)is also unique and important in the freshfood industry