Food Traceability is important in food manufacturing because it helps the global food industry track products through the supply chain. This allows food manufacturer’s to recall contaminated or mislabeled product quickly and effectively. The traceability requirement in the U.S. and Canada is for companies in the supply chain to be able to track where incoming product came from and where it was shipped. Tech enabled traceability allows companies to reduce their recall windows and improve their plant visibility.
Food traceability can either be done manually with pen & paper, spreadsheets, or automatically through a technology enabled process.
Technology enabled traceability is done by adopting a robust, advanced traceability system into their production facility. These systems typically include plant-floor devices (i.e scales, and labeling systems) that gather and record production data into a centralized database. These systems help food manufacturers remove human error when collecting food traceability data. Effective tech enabled traceability systems can also significantly reduce response times when a foodborne disease outbreak or recall occur. This is done by providing rapid access to relevant and reliable information that helps determine the source and location of the associated products
Traceability can also be achieved through a manual pen and paper based system. Manual pen and paper systems meet government requirements, but can be prone to human error. Manual systems can also lengthen the amount of time it takes to recall affected products. In a manual traceability system all data that’s recorded, from receiving to shipping, is hand written, logged into a master list, and then held in a spreadsheet format in case of a recall.
In food manufacturing a GS1 barcode is the global standard for labeling food products. The information in a GS1 barcode will depend on the type of barcode that is being used. Some of these include: GS1-128, and UPC-A.
A GS1-128 barcode is typically used for wholesale case and pallet labeling. These barcodes typically contain more information than a UPC-A barcode. The GS1-128 barcode includes a GTIN, product weigh, production date, and a product serial number.
A UPC-A barcode is a simpler barcode, that is typically used on retail labels. These barcodes typically only contain a company prefix, and an item reference number.
For more information on food barcodes, check out our blog here
There are many different types of food manufacturing software available. Choosing the right software depends on what a food processor is trying to accomplish. There a three main types of software applications that many food processors commonly use. These include: manufacturing execution systems (MES), warehouse management systems (WMS) and plant-floor weighing & labeling software solutions.
Manufacturing execution systems (MES) are used in food production facilities to manage the entire production process. These systems are typically front office systems that allows users to create product files, manage production schedules, and track production data.
Warehouse management systems (WMS) are used in food production facilities to manage inventory. This includes receiving operations, raw ingredient inventory, finished good inventory, sales orders, and shipping operations.
Plant-floor weighing and labeling software is used in food production facilities to capture and track the weight of various items from hanging carcasses, to finished goods cases. These systems typically use a serialized barcoding method to label products for traceability.
There are several steps for a processor to obtain a UPC code for their food products.
The first, and most important, step in obtaining a UPC barcode for your product is to apply for membership and license a UPC (GS1) Company prefix from GS1. Bar Code Graphics is the authority for barcoding and UPC implementation. GS1 is the global standards organization for product identification.
Step two, once you have licensed your GS1 company prefix, you can assign unique product numbers to each of your items.
Step three, once you have built your UPC identifier from your Company Prefix & Product Number, you have to determine how you are going to get the UPC barcode on your product.
There are many different types of software that are used all across the food industry. Different software applications specialize in different plant functions. Most software programs are divided into two categories: front office applications, and plant-floor applications.
Front office applications can include ERP and accounting systems, MES and WMS systems, and CRM and human resources systems.
Plant floor applications can include weighing and labeling software, HACCP and QA software, data collection applications, and mobile applications that run on mobile computers and tablets.
In food manufacturing, there are two common ways a WMS is used. A WMS system can be used as a standalone system or can be integrated into a larger ERP system. It should be noted that the functions and features of each are largely the same; it’s the package and style of delivery that differs. Standalone systems are used for their WMS features alone such as inventory management and warehouse operations. ERP systems are a centralized solution that help with resource planning, accounting, customer relationship management, and human resources.
There are many WMS applications available to food manufacturers today. Deciding on which WMS is right for your process will come down to defining your company’s goals.
For example, if you are looking for a centralized system that allows you to manage functions such as CRM, product creation, and costing, then an ERP system is the right solution.
If a company’s goal is to save some time and cost, and their inventory management system doesn’t need to extend into other areas of the business, then a standalone WMS system would be beneficial. Full ERP systems can be costly and timely to fully implement and use. Smaller processors may benefit more by using a WMS system, which has warehouse and inventory management functions on a smaller scale.
Production scheduling is done to make the manufacturing process flow with maximum efficiency. By using a production scheduling system, a food manufacturer’s front office can control what is produced on the plant-floor. This decision can be based around relevant data, such as inventory levels and current sales orders. This is beneficial in the food manufacturing process, because it provides production controls that prevent over producing or under producing products.
The term ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. These systems provide management in areas such as forecasting, planning, inventory, logistics and production. Common ERP modules include accounting, manufacturing executions systems (MES), warehouse management systems (WMS), and customer relationship management (CRM).
A robust ERP system is meant to consolidate all of your data into a single system which provides a birds-eye view of a company’s entire operation. ERP systems’s are designed to be a single centralized hub that is able to control all business functions.
A processing ERP in the food processing industry is helpful to maintain the recipe of products, food safety, consumer issues, and certificate of analysis, food packaging regulations, and cost of inventory.
Typical MES systems will allow food manufacturers to setup controls for their manufacturing process. These controls can be setup and configured in the front office, and pushed down to the plant-floor. Many of these controls guide operators through a recipe, or QA process. This allows the front office to control the manufacturing process at a more granular level.
An MES provides value to the supply chain, by controlling and giving visibility into the manufacturing process of a production facility. The results of an MES are traceability of raw ingredients to finished goods. An MES can also help ensure quality throughout the manufacturing process. This in turn helps distributors, and suppliers maintain a high level of confidence in the manufacturing process of finished goods.
A MES assessment Is an overall evaluation of an organizations ability to evaluate the need for implementing a MES system into their manufacturing process. The manufacturer should assess the MES landscape at all in-scope plants.
Such a global assessment can be accomplished by collecting information on the business, manufacturing operations and technology through surveys, questionnaires, meetings, and a review of current documentation
ERP systems are all encompassing software solutions that include an MES. Since ERP systems have such a large footprint, they can be difficult to implement and costly. This drives some food manufacturers to look for standalone MES systems. Since ERP systems also cover a wide variety of other modules, this can reduce the quality of an ERP’s MES solution. Some food manufacturers prefer a specialized robust standalone MES system.
MES is needed for food processors to improve the productivity and efficiency of the manufacturing process while reducing the total time and cost of production. MES systems also are important for process control, as they help an operator navigate a QA or recipe process. An MES can also integrate with a processor’s ERP system to give full insight and visibility into production and operational management.
Starting MES starts with doing an internal evaluation of your organizations manufacturing operation and current processes. Identifying where key areas need improvement, and then finding a MES solution that address those key areas
There are various types of scales that a food manufacturer would use for various applications across the food manufacturing process. A few common types of scales include floor scales, bench scales, check weighers, and rail scales.
Many food processing plants that deal with bulk product will use large containers called combo bins. These bins are typically weighed with a floor scale. Food processors might also weigh large reusable totes, or racks on a floor scale.
For individual pieces and finished goods cases, a bench scale can be used to weigh items. These items are typically smaller and can be lifted onto the scale by an operator.
Checkweighers and conveyor scales are used in the food manufacturing process to weigh or checkweigh boxes or pieces travelling down a conveyor. Most of these applications are automated and don’t require an operator to oversee the process.
In most abattoir facilities, hanging carcasses are weighed on a rail scale. These rail scales typically have a larger weight capacity than most bench scales. Rail scales can be both static and in-motion type scales. These scales are usually used to track yields across the harvest floor.
Printing barcodes in food manufacturing is a common requirement. Barcoded products help with food traceability and warehouse management. Barcodes can be printed with a 203-dpi industrial label printer. These label printers can print barcodes on direct thermal labels or thermal transfer labels with a ribbon.
There are many different types of thermal and direct thermal printers that can be used to print labels in food manufacturing. Honeywell, SATO, and Zebra are leading suppliers of industrial label printers for the food industry.
Labels need to be printed with a standard industrial label printer. These printers are different than the common office laserjet printer. They’re designed specifically for printing on direct thermal, or thermal transfer label stock. Honeywell, SATO, and Zebra are leading suppliers of industrial label printers for the food industry.