“The technology helps us be more responsive to our carriers, many of whom are small firms or single owner-operators,” says Doug Stoiber, vice president of produce transportation operations at LMTS.
That same awareness prompted LMTS to recently invest in an upgraded transportation management system (TMS) and redesigned Web site to enhance collaboration and enhance real-time visibility.
LMTS chose MercuryGate’s TMS, says Stoiber. “We were very impressed with their personnel, their services, and their level of sophistication.” MercuryGate’s expertise in the transportation sector was also important, he notes.
The customers’ demands are becoming more complex, Stoiber says. “They need more information faster, and they need to access that information via multiple platforms and in multiple formats,” and MercuryGate’s ability to offer TMS via the Web was therefore a key factor for LMTS.
Likewise, the redesign of the company’s Web site to accommodate the soon to be rolled out MercuryGate TMS was also a key component of the overall project.
“When we envisioned the project, we knew that we wanted to create a fully functioning electronic marketplace for our carriers and customers,” says Stoiber.
Infratab Tags a Winning Solution for Seafood and Shellfish
Maintaining viable seafood levels in the world’s oceans while keeping it safe and fresh throughout the cold chain is high on the agenda for Infratab, the Oxnard, California-based company whose innovative approach combines EPC (UHF Electronic Product Code) and NFC (Near Field Communication) technology into one RFID tag.
The dual purpose tag allows Nicaragua’s Fish Ministry to spot-check boats, buoys, and traps for licenses, while packing houses use it to receive and record daily catch and freshness (with the EPC part of the tag). Fishermen and lobstermen rely on the NFC part of the tag to identify GPS locations of traps and associate the locations to the quantity caught and other data.
According to Infratab’s Terry Myers: “The results are in progress, but the benefits are significant in terms of sustainability, traceability, and freshness. When supply is in danger, as it is with the langouste (spiny lobster) population in Nicaragua, being able to have a tagging solution that is hard to counterfeit and easy to enforce, while also offering GPS tracking and monitoring of boat and temperature specifics for compliance with EU and U.S. food safety regulations, is key to enabling Nicaraguan packing houses to export lobsters harvested by artisan fishermen and ensures their freshness, too.”
Peeling Away Inefficiency and Finding New Opportunities at LoBue
When LoBue Citrus, a family-run grower and distributor of oranges based in Lindsey, California, was looking to automate their manual processes and boost their tracking capabilities, they were expecting to find savings in man-hours. But, they didn’t quite expect to discover as many other opportunities that the implementation of technology would reveal.
A few years ago, the company participated in a pilot project that was headed up by C.H. Robinson, FoodLogiQ, Intermec, and Bayer CropScience to study food traceability, explains Tom Clark, operations manager at LoBue. Following the project, LoBue purchased Intermec’s CN4 mobile computer, the PB50 rugged mobile label printer, and the PB40 portable printer.
“Prior to the implementation, just about everything we did at LoBue was manual,” acknowledges Clark, including daily physical inventories, once at night and another in the morning, at two separate facilities.
What used to take about 32 man-hours shared between two employees each day was reduced to 3-4 hours for one person, who performs periodic cycle counts three or four times each week.
The other opportunity came in the way of business analysis and operational management, says Clark.
Specifically, “We’re now able to use some of the cultural input from our growers, such as pesticides that may have been applied, and we’re able to track that back to a specific lot via the new system.”
Clark adds, “We can also give our growers feedback on how their fruit is holding up, so the technology is helping with management practices throughout the supply chain, too. Now there’s interaction from the field all the way to the retailer.”