Joel White, an IT consultant for Superior Farms, dislikes the old, clunky PCs that often litter modern manufacturing facilities. The support that’s required to maintain them is costly and unnecessary, he says. Additionally, PCs must have special enclosures to withstand the harsh environment and washdown procedures. “It’s a crusty environment for electronics,” says White, “so it’s always been a dream to get rid of the PCs on the manufacturing floor.”
Although nothing on the market existed to meet Superior Farms’ needs, Acme Scale Co. and METTLER TOLEDO worked closely with the company to customize a solution that fit the bill perfectly.
White knew it must be possible to eliminate PCs in Superior’s processing facility while maintaining product traceability, which is important in the meat industry. But an initial search yielded no solution. After close collaboration with Acme Scale Co. and METTLER TOLEDO, White determined the IP69K-protected IND780-controlled scale could be easily customized to do just what he wanted—communicate with Superior’s ERP system without a PC.
“The idea was to find a scale that could send the same transaction information as the PC to the ERP system. This was the only terminal that could do this,” says White. "I can input a product code, and the terminal talks to our ERP system and out comes a finished goods label—all without a PC."
The California facility uses three types of scales, two of which are not connected to the ERP system. But White says the possibility now exists to electronically trace a lamb from the time it enters the building to be processed to final packaging and shipment. “This is huge for traceability,” he says. “Now, we can easily know where a lamb came from and which stores are selling the product.”
Not only does the scale system facilitate transparency and traceability throughout the entire process, it also makes work easier and more productive for the scale operator. “The operator can see instantly how much product has been produced,” says White. “Say an operator needs to make some racks of lamb and then packages of legs and gets interrupted. The operator can easily and quickly pick up where he or she left off—without error."
The cost savings are another bonus. “The system reduces a lot of complexity and lowers cost of ownership,” says White. “Ultimately, this will reduce the amount of maintenance the IT staff is required to do.” According to White, the new equipment costs the same or less than the equipment in the previous configuration. “There’s definitely a measurable return on investment. Much of it isn’t a hard dollar investment, but the system is much easier to deal with and manage than one that’s PC based,” he says.