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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Embracing change can be tough.

When the produce industry announced in 2008 plans to implement the Produce Traceability Initiative, the first reaction of many grower-shippers was that PTI would be a costly, time-consuming burden on their operations, said Todd Baggett, founder and chief executive officer of Santa Clara, Calif.-based RedLine Solutions Inc. and co-chair of the PTI Technology Working Group.

Seminar dispels PTI worriesAs time went on, though, grower-shippers — sometimes reluctantly — complied with the PTI milestones, and companies found that they were wrong — PTI did not slow down their operations.

They also discovered that by complying with the initiative, they were introducing efficiencies that could help improve their business.

At an Oct. 4 PTI symposium hosted by RedLine Solutions, Baggett told how PTI can be much more than just a traceback solution and actually can enhance many of a grower-shipper’s internal operations.

For example, a traceback system can give a company improved visibility into its operations and determine real-time production output, monitor production by crew, track attendance, indicate status of special orders and help grower-shippers make daily changes easily, he said.

It can measure cycle times, such as the time from when a product is cut until it’s cooled, from when it’s received until it is cooled and pre-cool times.

A traceback system can help shippers track product from place to place within a facility and save time locating inventory, Baggett said.

It also can track product treatments, like pre-cooling, ripening and fumigation. And it can validate product as it is picked to improve shipment accuracy, reduce load times and eliminate bottlenecks in the shipping office, he said.

RedLine Solutions has come up with a cart, complete with laptop computer, scanning gun and printer, that can move from place to place and build hybrid pallet tags that can enhance the process even more and help save time and reduce errors, Baggett said.

Retailers who have had to make changes to their systems also have found that PTI does not slow down the process, he said.