Traceability of fruit and vegetable products with automatic calibration using RFID
Macsa ID, through the INTEGRA TRACEABILITY software, offers a customized solution to ensure the traceability of products in the fruit and vegetable sector. This happens from their collection in the field to their dispatch/distribution, either by means of automatic or manual calibration systems. This article is based on the second case, in fruits and vegetables, where the calibration is carried out automatically.
The procedure contemplates all the usual processes in the sector, being present at every stage, from the field to the table:
- Data collection in the field.
- Incoming fruit from the field.
- Fruit storage before packaging.
- Sorting of products on the production lines.
- Automated labeling / marking of products according to the batch being processed.
- Labeling of pallets.
- Storage / dispatch of products.
- Traceability data use.
Data collection in the field
Macsa ID has developed an app that can be installed on any mobile device (phone, tablet). Using this application, the farmer can record the most relevant data that may affect the traceability of the product in each of the plots or areas of cultivation. The system records all these data in real time and then uploads them to a database in the cloud.
The system can work in real time, but can also store the data locally on the device and then later upload it to the cloud. This procedure is very useful when working in areas without mobile data coverage.
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Incoming fruit from the field
When food arrives at the factory to be packed, a relevant entry registration is generated via a voucher or production order. In turn, the product is checked to see if it needs to be quarantined due to conditions in the field (for example, the application of pesticides, etc). In this case, the consignment will be withdrawn.
To facilitate and automate all processes, each incoming batch is identified with an RFID chip from this point on. This technology allows the product to be read and tracked throughout the factory by way of strategically placed antennas that are able to identify the batch of fruit/vegetable without any contact. The RFID chip that identifies the batch will be strategically placed in the first container, which will then be sorted into the production line during the packaging process.
These RFID chips are encapsulated and shaped to resemble the product that will be processed. All chips have an unmistakable registration number and are reusable once the packaging process is finished.
The batch and lot of the fruit/vegetable is already identified with its exact origin and is ready to enter the warehouse or to be sorted directly into the production lines.
Storage of fruit prior to packaging
Macsa ID has powerful warehouse management software, INTEGRA STORAGE, which optionally complements the INTEGRA TRACEABILITY module. This application allows the control of all products coming from the field area (raw materials) that can be distributed in any of the warehouses available to the customer.
INTEGRA STORAGE can control the location, batch, date of entry, etc. of each stored product, as well as manage alarms when maximum storage time is about to be exceeded, etc.
Product sorting in the production lines
At the desired time, sorting a batch of fruit or vegetables should start by depositing the container (usually a box) with the RFID chip detailed above.
At this point, all the fruit that is sorted will be associated with the data linked to the RFID chip (lot, harvesting area, harvesting date, farmer, etc.).
The system is capable of working with multiple lines of sorting, packaging and sizing. It adapts to the layout of each need and allows several batches to be processed simultaneously, etc.
Automated labeling / marking based on the batch being processed
As mentioned above, the RFID chip moves along the production line and antennas located along the packaging process can be used to monitor the progress of each batch.
Once the chip reaches the encoding area of the product packaging area, INTEGRA TRACEABILITY automatically changes the message of the marker / label applicator, personalizing the batch, expiry date, etc. of each product according to the respective details needed.
Macsa ID is a manufacturer and distributor of every possible technology for product identification, either by laser marking, ink or labeling on paper or film.
In addition, INTEGRA TRACEABILITY is able to communicate with automatic sizing systems, scales or other devices installed on the production line to ensure the traceability of all batches or lots of products along the packaging line.
When the production system reaches its end, the RFID chip is detected and ejected by the antenna array. From this moment on, the chip is disconnected from the batch and ready to be reused infinitely.
The last production process is usually the palletizing of the products. Through bar code readers, photocell counters and linking systems, the software is able to connect up all the boxes and containers that make up a pallet. Finally, INTEGRA TRACEABILITY manages pallet labeling by giving each pallet a registration number or SSCC, linking this number with all the lots and batches it contains.
Product storage / dispatch
The optional INTEGRA WAREHOUSE module described above is capable of managing the storage of pallets of finished products, as well as their dispatch. This application is also capable of managing the expiry dates of all stored products and their locations, while at the same time linking it with the company’s central system (ERP) to provide all the necessary data to generate invoices, as well as other features.
The optional warehouse management module will allow you, among others, to:
- Have reliable control of locations and stock
- Ensure reliability of deliveries
- Reduce warehousing and dispatch errors
- Reduce the order-delivery cycle
Use of traceability data
With the data generated via all the processes detailed above, INTEGRA TRACEABILITY is able to generate the entire traceability tree, starting from the harvesting of fruits and vegetables up to their dispatch, being able to provide any traceability report that may be required.
In this way, if a problem is detected at the origin or in the field, you can easily identify which shipments these products are associated with.
Conversely, if any incident is detected in a final product, it is possible to identify its origins and also to know which other products have been affected. As such, only the affected batch or batches can be withdrawn from the market and massive product recalls can be avoided.
Likewise, in the case of cooperatives, INTEGRA TRACEABILITY has the necessary tools to link the kilos of material received, the kilos of material packaged, the weight produced and the weight of each batch associated with the calibers that have been packaged. In this way, shrinkage can be managed and payment can be made to each partner farmer based on the actual utilization of the processed product.
If you are looking for a comprehensive solution to manage the traceability of your product, please contact us. Together we will find the best solution for your needs.