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Bar coding makes it mark on cold chain

Supplier News

CHILLED and frozen dairy product hasn’t been subject to bar-code requirements — until recently.

Mark Dingley, who manages the Identification Systems Group (IDS) within Matthews Intelligent Identification , says previously, most field work for bar coding has been done in the long-life and dry-goods segments.

“These have very different requirements to cold-chain goods. As well, there are issues with having bar codes on chilled and frozen products that you don’t face through dry goods.

“Consider label-placement requirements on cartons just for a start. Chilled and frozen product cartons have ‘breathe holes’. These allow the product inside to rapidly cool, which it must do to meet QA and health regulations.”

Dingley says the past few months have seen a lot of activity in the cold chain — in dairy particularly.

Much of this has been driven by big supermarket chains.

Their aim, in wanting bar coding on chilled and frozen dairy cartons shipped into their distribution centres, is to improve supply-chain efficiency.

Woolworths’ Project Mercury, is one example, which they say will reduce supply chain costs and drive sales.

“And this is where Matthews, through our solutions group, IDS, excels,” Dingley says.

“Dairy suppliers to supermarket DCs are being asked to apply bar codes on cartons and pallets. If they just do that for compliance, and do nothing else with the technology, it’s a pure cost — and added activity — with no advantage for them, just to keep the client.

“What we do, is look to the benefits the technology can give, beyond mere compliance. And there are many. Just one example is suppliers can integrate bar coding throughout their logistics, thereby reducing and improving administration practices and better controlling inventory. They too can — and should — maximise the supply-chain benefits the technology offers.”

Dingley says Matthews’ recent successes in the cold-chain area can be attributed largely to IDS’s system-integration capabilities with a proven standard suite of software products known as IDSnet™ and the value-add offered in terms of production reporting and linking into a company’s WMS or ERP.

“Our project-engineering capabilities give us a lot of strength. The subsequent broad approach we can take to an installation — including choosing the best hardware and software — means we see a business as a whole, the whole production line and front area, so we don’t face any unforseen problems when we come to installation.

“The skills Matthews has in-house through IDS, are unique in the Australian coding and labelling business.”

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