Traceability Improves Food and Beverage Production

Systems combine to better monitor and control product and packaging

With a modular sensor and software solution, manufacturers can ensure their products will leave the factory in the right packaging with the correct label and coding information!

Traceability Improve Food and Beverage Production

  • Traceability in the food and beverage industry enables manufacturers to eliminate human error, improving efficiencies and increasing productivity.
  • Complete coding management and packaging verification solutions are insurance against coding and packaging errors.
  • With a modular sensor and software solution, manufacturers can ensure their products will leave the factory in the right packaging with the correct label and coding information.

As food safety becomes more of a concern, the ability to track products within a facility is of vital importance to manufacturers and consumers. Not only do these recalls have significant consequences to public health, they also put companies at risk. It is up to manufacturers to improve packaging, labels, bar codes, date codes, and even nutritional and allergen information. One answer to this is a continued focus on traceability, which is a challenge many food and beverage companies face. When you know where your product is and what is happening around it at all times, you are able to better control the environment surrounding it and avoid potential waste, rework, and even product recalls.

What causes packaging and labeling errors?

With the increasing complexity of packaging types, it has become more challenging for food and beverage manufacturers to reduce, if not eliminate, errors in coding and packaging products. This is particularly important in situations where mistakes can cause a risk to consumer health. Errors in the packaging process happen for numerous reasons, however many of these errors are human error. The wrong date code being entered into the printer can cause waste and rework, for example. One of the more common error is due to the frequency of  promotional offers and artwork changes. It is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to eliminate errors on packaging lines because of the sheer number of products being produced in different packages, especially when temporary promotional packaging is implemented. When the incorrect packaging is selected, the entire batch needs to be scrapped, producing significant waste.

Other errors can occur from the printer or coder. A coder may fail to print, or a printer may print a poor-quality code that is illegible and needs to be redone. Although eliminating these errors may seem impossible, it’s easier than you might think. When you catch these errors early, you can avoid significant production losses in time and money.

Taking steps to remove human error

In basic track and trace systems, sensors are needed to identify one- and two-dimensional codes, read and write to RFID tags, and provide high-resolution images for downstream processes. The most common solution used in these systems is bar code readers which are used primarily to identify markings and codes on packages. Track and trace system goes beyond just bar code readers. It also encompasses vision solutions, Ethernet, software databases, and more. Complete coding management and packaging verification solutions are insurance against potential coding and packaging errors. You will gain increased speed, reliability of line setup, and reduction in job changeover time. Modular sensor and software products can eliminate the risk of coding and packaging errors that can lead to emergency food recalls. When implemented on packaging lines, companies can effectively manage the deployment of coding and data and the checking of packaging before products leave the factory.

Software verifies that all coding data and packaging is correct. Vision sensors then verify that the correct code was used and that it actually printed, helping to validate codes and prevent recalls for food safety before products leave the facility. This leads to increased traceability and accountability for food and beverage manufacturers.

Significant changeover delays or rework to recode or correct the packaging are avoided entirely by catching mistakes at the source. With these types of solutions, you gain better control over your packaging line and the integrity of your products. Changeover time and job set-up is also dramatically reduced. When manually setting up a packaging line, it can take up to 15 minutes and adding another five minutes with quality paper. This 20-minute time frame can be reduced down to one minute or less with a comprehensive solution.

Future-proof traceability

With a modular sensor and software solution, manufacturers can ensure their products will leave the factory in the right packaging with the correct label and coding information. This comprehensive package and product monitoring and control setup can eliminate these errors.

Additionally, by automating the setup of printers and other packaging line devices, with the potential to link directly to an MES or ERP system, there is a significant reduction in job setup and changeover time. By reducing downtime, the packaging line can run for longer periods with improved efficiency and increased productivity.

Read the full solution article written by Steve Winski, SICK online on the International Society Automation website.

Traceability Improves Food and Beverage Production

Tri-Phase is a distributor of SICK  for Wisconsin and IMAC Motion is a SICK distributor in IL.

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