A new partnership between RedLine Solutions Inc. and ID Technology could ease concerns packing house operators have about traceability initiatives slowing down their lines because of label printing.

Chip Davis, chief operating officer for RedLine in Santa Clara, Calif., announced the partnership with the Fort Worth, Texas-based ID Technology in late January. He said by Feb. 1 about 40 packing lines had been automated with the combined technology of the two firms, bringing those produce companies a step closer to full compliance with the Produce Traceability Initiative.

PTI doesn't have to slow packing linesSo far the companies have automated lines for citrus, stone fruit and sweet potatoes, but Davis said the systems can be used for virtually any commodity.

“We have found that one of the biggest problems for pack houses is how to use PTI-compliant labels without slowing down their lines,“ Davis said. “They are dealing with volumes of 1,500 to 2,500 boxes per hour and with the combination of RedLine and ID Technology systems they can continue at that rate.”

The RedLine equipment recognizes specific products and boxes as they come down the line and provides GTIN and lot numbers to the ID Technology equipment. The ID Technology hardware then prints and applies PTI compliant labels, maintaining line speeds of one to two items per second, Davis said.

PTI doesn't have to slow packing linesAlan Shipman, vice president of sales for ID Technology, said in the release that his company’s labeling hardware is quickly and easily combined and adapted for use in packinghouses. It can be added to existing lines that have RedLine equipment in place or it can be installed at the same time a line is adding RedLine technology.

The ID Technology labels meet GS1 specifications as well as the PTI labeling milestone that became effective at the end of 2011.

Davis said many retailers who are customers of packers who have RedLine and ID Technology systems have said they are phasing in their own requirements for labeling. He said many expect to require their suppliers to have PTI compliant labels by the end of the first quarter of this year, with the majority of the rest planning on enforcing the requirement by the end of the second quarter.