Barcode automation in the field

LettuceWith the passing of the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) and the recent produce recalls, the requirements for automation within the fresh food industry have become more complex. Ideally, the grower will initiate lot traceability in the field where the food is picked.

However, the grower’s environment brings with it some complications that make it hard to apply any form of barcode automation in the field. For example, dust and moisture, lack of electricity and the requirement for simplicity and speed can be impediments.

Assuming a producer wants to implement automation in the field, there are typically three options, according to the white paper, Using Barcode for Fresh Food Traceability, authored by Alison Falco of Dynamic Systems Inc.

First: Preprint sequential labels and carry a roll of these labels to be applied in the field. A spreadsheet of the printed labels should be retained, and any unused labels should be voided on the spreadsheet.

Second: Print labels in a shed or other weather-resistant enclosure that houses a printer, PC and label design software. This requires electricity to run the computer system and the printer.

Third: Use a mobile scanning terminal, mobile printer and software that allow the user to determine the contents of the label on the fly. The grower retains not only the lot traceability data, but also can report production and shipments in detail.

The capabilities in the third option can expand the simple label action into a field production management system. When a company receives cartons from growers and repackages them for shipment to wholesale or retail customers, it will need additional capabilities of palletizing and re-boxing or commingling product and inventory management.

It’s self-evident that tracking these products gets complicated quickly. There are two methods of maintaining traceability. First, track the lots as they move through the supply chain. Second, track lots within cartons as the cartons move through the supply chain.

Falco looks further at the ramifications of these options plus production speed, inventory management and the importance of shipment verification. For more details or to obtain the white paper, visit Dynamic Systems’ traceability website or call 800-342-3999, ext. 204.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.