Makin' Bacon


End user: Bryan Foods
System: Barcode compliance program
Benefits: Increased tracking efficiency. Increased productivity. More efficient distribution. Increased business on-time

Bryan Foods is a large pork processor based in Mississippi. Having built a new distribution centre (DC), they required a paperless inventory control and shipping system for managing the warehouse.

Issues: Warehouse to Grocery Shop
In addition to the requirements of their DC, Bryan Foods felt they should also consider their customers' latest demands. Many requests had been made for UCC/EAN-128 barcodes on individual packages and pallets of bacon, ham, pork and lunchmeat. Bryan Foods was therefore searching for a state-of-the-art system to control production, spearheaded by a barcode compliance labelling system to track products from the warehouse to the grocery shop.

Solution: Meat in Motion
Bryan Foods turned to ID Technology, a value-added reseller, for a compliance solution that met both their DC and retailer requests, and automated the recording of finished goods production data.

ID Technology provided Bryan Foods with a data terminal network that integrated all hand packaging and labelling, and automated fixed weight and catch weight labelling stations, to comply with UCC/EAN-128 shipping container code standards.

The in-motion weighing and labelling application is the key to the system. At each production line, an operator affixes a preprinted barcode label that corresponds to a product number. At the weighing station, a scanner reads the product number from the barcode label, while scales measure the box's weight. Both data are then sent to the terminal, which records and sends the information to the printer-applicator. The printer-applicator prints labels containing the product information and applies them to the finished goods, at the rate of 20 boxes per minute. A report on finished goods production is prepared on the PC and uploaded to an IBM mainframe. The record is available on the mainframe within 30 seconds of the transaction being recorded at the weighing station.

Barcode scanability is a crucial because the entire system depends upon the print quality of the label data. The printer applicator is driven by a SATO M84Se print engine, picked because it provides crisp barcode labels at speeds of up to six inches per second. The SATO print engine was also chosen because of its high durability and reliability in harsh environments. "We selected the best barcode printing technology available in order to minimise the risk of having to shut down production due to equipment failure", highlighted Bryan Food's Scott Stewart.

The DC also required labelling of full pallets of the same product. The operator scans the product barcode and sends the data and pallet identification to a SATO printer, which then produces a finished goods barcode ID label. The inventory record data is entered on a PC and uploaded to the IBM mainframe.

By automating its processes, Bryan Foods improved efficiency. Products are barcoded and scanned, increasing tracking and control. The new system eliminates traffic jams in shipping. Operators used to hand write product weight on boxes while trucks waited to be loaded.

Increased productivity has resulted. Products are moved faster, easier and at a lower cost. 21 boxes can be packaged per minute. The barcode labelling system also enables the DC to receive, put-away, pick and pack, more quickly and with greater accuracy, achieving more efficient distribution.

Accuracy has also improved. Key entry errors have been eliminated, saving the time and money required correcting them. Up-to-the-minute information is now available too, by updating the mainframe computer in real time. This has vastly improved ordering and inventory control. Lastly, on-target deliveries has reduced costs and provided the competitive edge needed to gain more business.