Printers get product out the door without getting in the way

Easy-to-use system unifies printing approach among 24 cooperative blueberry farms.

By ·

Founded in 1941, the Carolina Blueberry Association is the oldest farmer-owned cooperative in North Carolina. Based in Garland, N.C., the co-op’s 24 growers bring fresh and frozen blueberries to stores across North America. In an effort to comply with the 2008 Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), the company deployed new printer systems to increase throughput and label reliability.

Before the new system, farms had been taping paper labels on pallets and, in some cases, handwriting lot numbers in spiral notebooks. When evaluating alternatives, the association wanted to select one system that could accommodate the range of size and packing operations across its member base. After installing a unified PTI-compliant software system, the solution was coupled with low-maintenance industrial printers (Zebra, zebra.com).

From mid-May to mid-July each year, association members pack and distribute around 600,000 flats of blueberries. Farmers are understandably concerned about anything that might slow down the packing line. “We needed modern traceability measures, but it had to be something easy for farmers to learn,” says Rod Bangert, general manager. “They work 16- to 20-hour days for eight weeks, so they were concerned about messing up their production cycles. Many of our growers were nervous with anything computer-related, but the new program did not cause us to slow down one bit.”

The new printers allow growers to flexibly change labeling based on the size of the product they are packaging, typically from 6 ounces up to 2 pounds. Some run a single line while others run several. With the complete solution, association members create a visible value chain of their product that benefits growers and retailers. Along with complying with the PTI, farms now have a digital record of their physical operations, helping them track production and shipments.

“Some of the growers are using the system to monitor production in specific fields or by variety,” Bangert said. “With an accurate record, they can limit their exposure in the event of a recall and remove the affected products from the supply chain.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Your Guide to Voice for the Warehouse
Is voice a good fit for my operation? How would voice work in my warehouse? With the help of the Vitech Guide to Voice, you can find all the answers to your voice questions in one place.
Download Today!
From the October 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
An early adopter, Rochester Drug Cooperative is using robotic piece-picking technology to complement picking of slow-moving items. System report for Rochester Drug Cooperative, Robotic picking and inventory management, Innovative distribution center robotics solutions , IAM Robotics case study
Injecting agility into WMS implementation
The Big Picture: Business as Unusual
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...
Manufacturing Day: 2,716 events from Hawaii to Alaska to Puerto Rico
Events to be scheduled throughout the month, so the remaining 249,185 manufacturing firms in the...

System Report: Pouch sorter powers Stage’s fulfillment needs
How a hometown department store chain transformed its e-fulfillment processes with pouch sortation...
Cubing and Weighing Equipment: Measure Up
The use of cubing and weighing equipment is growing beyond dimensional weight applications.