VirtualOne is upgrading its FireTag camera-guided laser marking system to allow for more efficiencies in produce traceability.

VirtualOne improves FireTag pallet marking systemVirtualOne, Plant City, Fla., designed FireTag to help grower-shippers brand a Produce Traceability Initiative-compliant mark on palletized produce.

The system provides a GS1-128 barcode plus human readable parts that remain compliant with the PTI, according to VirtualOne officials.

Improvements include a dedicated machine controller that allows for processing of multiple pallets and the availability of an 80-watt laser, upgraded from a 30-watt laser.

“The new model, with the 80-watt laser, will allow us to reach some speeds we’ve never been able to get before as far as marking cases,” said Rob Ogilbee, chief financial officer for VirtualOne and FireTag. “This can read information from pallets of product and translate that to the laser and do the marking of the pallet all under a minute. That’s faster than anyone can do manually.”

Ogilbee said the improved version, released in mid-January, helps maintain the cold chain because it saves growers time when moving product into a centralized cooling system.

VirtualOne improves FireTag pallet marking systemGrowers employing manual peel-and-apply systems must almost unstack the pallet, affix labels on each case, restack and place in cooling. The FireTag system allows operators to place pallets on the FireTag system for pre- or post-cooling marking, Ogilbee said.

FireTag’s modular design occupies less than seven pallet positions in a truck, allowing for easy transport, Ogilbee said.

Plant City-based Wish Farms is using FireTag for bell peppers, squash and eggplants in its Pine Island production and cooling operations west of Fort Myers, Fla. Wish Farms plans to relocate the machinery to Duette, Fla., growing operations south of Plant City.

Gary Wishnatzki, Wish Farms’ president and chief executive officer, owns VirtualOne.

VirtualOne released FireTag in late 2010.