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Taking the manual out of data collection

Automated bar coding the secret ingredient for inventory accuracy and production tracking.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
October 22, 2011

Manual data collection can bog down inventory management or production processes, and can introduce inaccuracies and inefficiencies throughout a company’s operations. Red Gold, one of the nation’s largest full-line tomato product manufacturers, has raised its inventory accuracy to 99% and improved production tracking by replacing its manual system with a bar code-based data collection solution.

The Indiana-based company was using a wholly manual, paper-based process to track inventory and finished goods production. As cans of tomato products were loaded into cases and palletized, machine operators, lift truck operators and palletizer operators would have to write down multiple pieces of information to record production.

Manufacturing and shipping operators also had to record a variable-length case code that was stenciled onto each shipping tray or case. These codes, eight to 14-characters long, including both alphabetic and numeric characters, were unstructured and not always printed in the same place on the trays or cases. Red Gold’s primary distribution center may have 50,000 to 60,000 pallets in storage on any given day, and between 100 to 200 trucks moving through the facility each day.

The new system was deployed in phases between 2002 and 2007 at three facilities. While most orders are for full pallets of product, the new system allows operators to build mixed pallets within the system and generate new pallet labels that reflect these case moves.

Staff members appreciate the new system, which has cut labor costs at multiple points throughout the process. By standardizing company case codes and automatically tracking each case electronically, the system has also improved compliance with customer and government traceability requirements.

Integrated Barcoding Systems

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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.

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