The company conducted its first tests on the “pallet build” program late in the summer, and the tests quickly showed it had improved accuracy of picks and efficiency of order fills, LaGrasso said.
“We wanted to adopt ‘pallet build’ because it allows us to put a scan gun in the hand of each picker who will scan the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) bar code on each case as they place it on the pallet,” he said.
A wrapped pallet is traceable from one end of the supply chain to the other, he said.
Scanning of outbound product, which is the last step to PTI compliance, is scheduled for 2013, he said.
“We had the building wired for radio frequency so the handheld computer scan guns could connect to our software system throughout our warehouse,” he said.
A competitive edge
LaGrasso said the system has improved inventory tracking.
“We cleaned up our product list by reducing duplicate product codes in preparation for our new warehouse layout,” he said.
The goal is to have GTIN bar codes on every case of product in our facility, “so that we can capture lot information on the inbound side, then scan each case on the outbound end to know exactly where each lot was shipped,” LaGrasso said.
Inbound product scanning began in September, LaGrasso said.
The food safety program is a way to give the company a boost in a “very competitive” Michigan market, LaGrasso said.
“We have a national customer that is looking for us to become PTI compliant,” he said.
Other companies have voiced the same preference, he said.
“If we can successfully partner with local growers it would help to improve food safety practices for the entire state having a positive effect beyond our customer reach,” LaGrasso said.
LaGrasso credits a number of suppliers for helping the company with its initiative.
“We could not have gotten this far without the help of our valuable suppliers Freshway, Basciani, Mother Earth Farms, Mastronardi, Produce Packaging, Greenline, Columbia Marketing International, Limoneira, and Sunkist, who have all taken the step to becoming PTI-compliant and having GTIN bar codes on their product,” he said.