Printers get product out the door without getting in the way

Easy-to-use system unifies printing approach among 24 cooperative blueberry farms.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
May 01, 2013 - MMH Editorial

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

image
Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


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!

Recent Entries

Instead of ignoring a forklift fleet and its associated costs, asking the right questions can lead to substantial savings.

This white paper outlines five ways to increase profits with automation. By implementing automated storage and retrieval equipment-such as horizontal carousels, vertical carousels and vertical lift modules, multiple areas of a manufacturing or distribution facility will benefit from savings in inventory accessibility, floor space, time, improved ergonomics and better accuracy.

Zebra gains instant access to complimentary technologies. But first, it needs to integrate a former partner that is 2-1/2 times its size.

Distribution requirements are changing. Few distribution managers would quibble with that statement. The increase in the demand for mixed cases, mixed cartons, aisle ready pallets and, most importantly, the increase in the volume of e-commerce orders is driving new levels of investment in automation.

MDT works with Mitsubishi Electric to ensure technical competence in providing change management support for Mitsubishi Electric Automation products.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA