Food Logistics

OCT 2014

Food Logistics serves the entire food supply chain industry with targeted content for manufacturers, retailers, and distributors.

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Page 33 of 39

34 OCTOBER 2014 • FOOD LOGISTICS SECTOR REPORTS L A B E L I N G S O F T W A R E K eeping track of all the label regula- tions has become a bigger challenge for food and beverage supply chain managers in recent years. Changes to the Nutrition Facts labels is one example. Meanwhile, companies that export to Europe have to comply with a new European Union regulation concerning allergens. Produce shippers are facing require- ments to meet the new Produce Traceability Initiative. And, more retailers are requiring vendors to comply with GS1 standards. Te onus is on label software systems to keep pace with new demands. In addition to helping food and beverage supply chains to comply with label information require- ments, label printing solutions offer automatic identification and data capture capabilities for inventory management. Most label printing soft- ware used in food and beverage warehouses inte- grate label printing with inventory tracking operations. Companies can print labels for almost any application, including shipping and receiv- ing, order and price sheets, packing lists and compliance labels. By giving companies easier access to more accurate inventory data, such solutions allow users to respond to customer needs faster. Gate Gourmet, which provides meals for airlines and railways, recently found a way to provide special meal labels more efficiently in response to increasing customer requests for such meals. NiceLabel, a label solutions provider, tapped its Swiss partner, Labeltech AG, to develop a data-entry form for Gate Gourmet that shows all the product database entries and allows quick printing in any given quan- tity. The solution includes a thermal transfer printer, a POS touch-screen PC and heat- resistant labels. The solution has proved more efficient than the pre-printed stickers that required a chef to check off boxes. Companies that use automatic identifica- tion and data capture solutions – such as bar codes and RFID tags – can fulfill and replenish orders faster and more accurately. Such tools also allow companies to trace products in response to safety recalls. In addi- tion, companies use these solutions to track assets such as pallets, cases, bins and racks. Label printers are available as small mobile devic- es or stationary tabletop industrial printers. Ken Boyd, marketing director at Supply Chain Services, an Oak- dale, Minn.-based reseller of label solutions, cites the following factors as important in selecting a printer: durability, power, speed and adaptability. Dean Jackson, global partner manager for manufacturing at Zebra Technologies, a pro- vider of label printers and software, identifies two of the most popular ways label printers integrate with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software: • Direct XML: XML (Extensible Markup Language), a set of rules for encoding documents electronically, offers a universal way of exchanging documents and data across applications and platforms. With Direct XML, a label design tool designs the label and loads the label templates in the printer's memory. ERP data streams are sent out as XML directly to the printer for label printing and/or RFID encoding. • Middleware: ERP output is directed to "middleware" software installed on a server instead of going directly from the ERP to the printer. The middleware translates the ERP output into a format the printer can recognize. Examples of middleware include TEKLYNX, Loftware, Bartender, Niceware and Adobe Interactive Forms. McLain Farms, a Lyons, Ga.-based onion grower, recently installed a barcode label system in its packing facility to comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), an industry-wide effort to improve track and trace procedures through the food manufac- turing supply chain. McLain Farms installed a Dynamic Sys- tems barcode printer. The Dynamic Systems barcode 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 which eliminate charge-backs. A simple touch of the screen determines the contents of the label and how many labels to print. The software automatically collects production information—lot num- bers, product attributes, weight and quantity of cartons packed—and provides inventory and traceability reports. The label informa- tion is then stored in the inventory database which provides data for inventory manage- ment, traceability and shipping. Randy McLain, the company's owner, says the system increased overall production speed. He says it delivered real-time, accu- rate production reports; fulfilled traceability requirements; provided accurate real time inventory; printed professional looking carton and pallet labels; and expedited van loading. The PTI is one of several standards that food handling companies need to pay atten- tion to, notes Jenna Wagner, global market- ing director at TEKLNX, a label software solution provider. Companies handling exports to Europe have to comply with aller- gen regulations, she notes. Labels: Simple Yet So Sophisticated Label Solutions Enhance Data Capture, Improve Traceability, Speed And Accuracy, And Integrate With Management Software B Y E L L I O T M A R A S Dynamic Systems' printer creates labels that include the GS1 barcode and comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative.

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