Traceability Software Helps Onion Packer Improve Productivity
After installing and using several other systems that claimed to provide complete traceability and product labeling, Rusty McLain, packaging operations manager for McLain Farms, Lyons, Ga., came to Dynamic Systems with a wish list. Dynamic Systems, Inc., a Redmond, Wash.-based software developer specializing in traceability systems, was challenged to help the sweet onion grower increase production speed and traceability.
Enter the SIMBA (specialized inventory management with barcode accuracy), a system that solves the problem of how to produce and track complete product and pallet labeling for fresh food on the packing floor. Designed to provide PTI-compliant labels and report packing information from the production line while tracing the product from “field to customer,” there are hree modules—SIMBA Mobile, SIMBA Lite and SIMBA Enterprise—that allow customers to start with a simple labeling system, and as the business grows and needs change, move up to the next system.
SIMBA tracks, labels and ships an unlimited number of products and records their specific characteristics (type, size, grade, weight, etc). The system automatically generates bills of lading and verifies shipments, thus eliminating charge-backs. SIMBA also allows the user to track and organize products by pallet, lot and case level, including repeated commingling and re-boxing. Inventory can be tracked by location, tracking moves from warehouse to warehouse, re-packing and commingling products at any point in the process without losing lot traceability.
The system was configured for McLain to use three label printers from one touch-screen on the packing floor. From that screen, they can print the bin label, the case label or the pallet label. A simple touch of the screen determines the contents of the label and how many to print. SIMBA quickly collects production information—lot numbers, product attributes, weight and quantity of cartons packed—and provides inventory and traceability reports.
The label information is then stored in the SIMBA inventory database, which provides data for inventory management, traceability and shipping. The cartons may be accumulated onto a pallet and tracked with a single pallet identifier.
Another feature allows McLain to have the three label printers and one touchscreen on a mobile rolling cart that’s housed on the packing floor and can be moved to whichever production line is active.
At the time of shipping, SIMBA’s van loading feature tracks each carton or pallet onto a specific van. A bill of lading is then produced automatically. This feature not only saves time in the shipping process, but it also eliminates disputes with the customer regarding what was actually shipped.
Key results include increased production speed, the ability to get real-time, accurate production reports, fulfill traceability requirements, provide accurate real-time inventory, print professional-looking carton and pallet labels and expedited van loading.
“I've used different systems in the past, and managing inventory and traceability has never been as easy as with SIMBA,” says McLain.