Mushroom PTI Solution (Produce Traceability Initiative) installed by SG Systems at Landenberg PA based Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms.
Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms “Mother Earth” is a 5th generation grower / packer & Shipper of delicious fresh mushrooms (Established in 1921 and operated by Arthur P. Yeatman), specializing in fresh, dried and IQF organic variety. They are proudly America’s oldest and largest certified organic mushroom farm and they have a healthy obsession with high quality, rising standards and producing the best possible organic mushrooms.
With the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) combined with FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), North American produce companies (growers, repackaging and distribution based) are faced with a choice as to how to address the demanding requirements from the incoming palletized mushrooms all the way through their washing, grading and slicing processes to finished packaged goods. This can be an expensive problem to address if companies take the traditional ‘paper-trail’ route.
For these reasons, Mother Earth decided to invest in a Mushroom PTI solution which was proven in the industry and also easy to use on the production floor. Meghan Klotzbach, Quality Assurance Coordinator comments “We were able to visit To-Jo Mushrooms and see the SG Systems Mushroom PTI Solution which had been implemented in December 2009. The Solution proved to generate impressive financial savings and hit the PTI milestones at the same time. The Management Team at To-Jo recommended SG Systems and is a keen supporter of the PTI, using it to drive business improvement. On this basis, we decided to make the investment with SG Systems and go for a 2012 implementation”
The Mushroom PTI System, which consists of 6 ‘Vantage’ Touch Screen Operator Terminals, Thermal Label Printers & Barcode Reader, Scales plus 4 Intermec CK3 Handheld Computers / Scanners, enables incoming pallets to be weighed and labeled with information relating to the Lot Number, Product, Supplier, Weight and barcode information. As the products are shipped, the traceability is linked back to the incoming Lot Number and subsequently all the way through the packaging process.
Receiving – Mushrooms are weighed using a connected floor scale and information about the delivery is logged using a Vantage Touch screen. Information about the supplier, mushroom type, expiration date, weight and storage location is captured electronically. The data is stored on the server and a pallet label is generated to uniquely identify the pallet. Inventory is updated.
Production – 5 Mushroom PTI Vantage terminals are situated on the production lines (3 x retail, 2 bulk lines) with label printers and barcode readers. The pallet tags can be scanned, the operator then selects the ‘output’ product which is being packed on the lines. For example, if ‘Organic White Mushrooms’ is the inbound product, the terminals will display all possible combinations for the outbound product, such as 5# sliced, 10# sliced ect. This makes it simple for the operator to make the correct finished product selection. As each box is labeled, inventory is adjusted accordingly. Each case is now PTI complaint with a case end label. The bulk terminals are connected to weighing scales to control the target weights and reduce unnecessary product giveaway. All labels are GS1 compliant with the GS128 standard barcode and voice pick code. The barcode labels contain tracking information such as lot number, Company GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number).
The Mushroom PTI Case labels are compliant with the newly mandated requirements from retailers such as Walmart and Kroger Supermarkets, who are making an effort to have fully traceable, fresh foods from their produce suppliers.
Shipping – 4 Mobile computers are connected to the wireless network. As sales orders are entered in the office, the orders are automatically transferred to the devices to enable rapid picking, packing and shipping. Delivery notes are automatically printed and the entire delivery is traceable to its original lot number received at the dock.
Being based on the well proven ‘Vantage’ traceability system, the reporting package has the ability to pinpoint which Lot Numbers have been delivered to which customers and when – all in real time. Simply enter the Lot Number into the PC and it will generate ‘where used’ report (detailing which customers have been supplied with the inbound lot) giving emergency contact details in the event of a product recall.
The reports package (installed on multiple computers in the office) also provides visibility of production throughput, whilst generating no additional workload for the site staff.
Meghan Klotzbach concludes “We’re very happy with the investment in SG Systems Mushroom PTI System and they’re always enthusiastic about making our system better, faster and as user friendly as possible. We worked closely with their implementation team to make sure that we had all the data organized before they arrived to install the equipment. This meant that we were live with receiving and case labels on all 5 production lines within 4 days of the team arriving on site. Just as To-Jo recommended that we invested in SG systems, we will be recommending that other companies invest in their solution too..”
Mother Earth has been selected by GS1 as a case study. A copy is available for download here