With the industry focus on Produce Traceability Initiative compliance, software solution companies are already looking to the future.
One of the biggest things right now is the attempt to glean additional benefits from PTI systems, according to Heather Hammack, director of sales and marketing with Fresno, Calif.-based Famous Software LLC.
“If PTI is required by the retailer now, all of the boxes a company ships will now be case tagged with a bar code. Now companies want to scan those tags at the cooler so the information will automatically be integrated into their system,” Hammack said.
In addition, Hammack said companies that transition to PTI-compliant labels will transition their entire operation, unlike when only a few smaller retailers required the traceability labels.
“Before, companies were only putting labels on the loads that needed them, but now we’re hearing that it will be too difficult to manage putting labels only on a portion of the product since Wal-Mart receives so much of what is produced anyway,” she said.
Hammack said that out of the ability to scan these bar codes internally, which will likely on all products anyway, better management will be achieved.
“They want to gain efficiencies in their operation, and we want to help them with that,” she said.
Famous Software’s Business Intelligence system is expected to be fully released later this year.
Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer of FoodLink, Los Gatos, Calif., says their customers want to have an enhanced user experience.
“That’s what is really resonating right now,” Brooks said. “It’s about getting even more return on investment,” he said.
FoodLink offers a warehouse management system that allows for more product visibility as growers try to manage daily operations and keep track of product in the field that hasn’t yet been received at a cooler.
According to Brooks, FoodLink’s WMS grew out of a desire by grower-shippers to get more operational value out of required investments in food safety and traceability infrastructure.
Brooks says he sees this system being extended down even more, perhaps to importers.
“If you have guys tracking inbound inventory from all over the place — Chile, Peru, or anywhere — the minute that tag is generated, the item is in the system and it’s visible. You know what is happening to it from that point forward,” he said
These systems and extended data capabilities all grew out of the PTI efforts companies have been making, which grew out of other traceability focuses.
“Seven or eight years ago, the country-of-origin labeling was important and everyone was focused on that. Now people are looking for a way to gain efficiency in their operation, so I think we’ll see more scanning of data, and then eventually that data will be sent to retailers electronically,” Hammack said.
Hammack expects to see an increased focus on electronic data transfers.
“I think eventually retailers and foodservice providers will require their suppliers to electronically send GS1 data. Electronic data interchange is the most probable delivery method since many of them use it today,” she said.
To explain more, Hammack said when suppliers send the GS1 data on an Advanced Ship Notice, the retailer can stage the receiving at their distribution center.
Hammack said Famous Software already can send GS1 data electronically through its integrated EDI solution, Famous Integration Services.