TME MES Helps Food Manufacturer: Traceability Solutions & Highest Food Safety Standards

TME MES Helps Food Manufacturer: Traceability Solutions & Highest Food Safety Standards

Background

Trans-Ocean Products, Inc. is a leading food manufacturer that produces premium surimi seafood, commonly known as imitation crab and lobster meat. Founded in 1985, Trans-Ocean was a pioneer in introducing surimi seafood to markets across the United States. Today, Trans-Ocean is best known for its product Crab Classic, America’s #1 brand of surimi seafood, available in supermarkets nationwide.

Trans-Ocean is located in Bellingham, Washington and operates a production facility that adheres to strict quality control procedures to ensure that all products meet USDC, FDA, and HACCP requirements.

Challenge

Trans-Ocean needed a web-based traceability and batch management solution to collect and analyze data related to batch number, lot number, recycles, scrap, add-in amounts, weight, time and temperature. Trans-Ocean previously used a paper-based, manual system to track inventory and the portioning of dry and wet ingredients. Trans-Ocean was unable to accurately track that all ingredients were correctly added and that all processes were followed. Manual updates to existing databases were irregular, preventing immediate access to current, reliable information.

Trans-Ocean was also preparing to meet increased regulatory demands to provide detailed food product traceability. Trans-Ocean needed a traceability solution that could provide quality assurance, and error-proofing.

Given the wet, slippery conditions of the factory floor, however, installing a desktop PC was not an option. The decision was made to implement a wireless system that ran on rugged portable data terminals (PDTs) that could scan data into a web-based software system.

Solution

MASS Group developed a comprehensive traceability solution by integrating TME’s web-based inventory system, mobile personal data terminals (PDTs), touch screen workstations, a wireless infrastructure, and modern web services to give Trans-Ocean a flexible, easy-to-use mobile system that is well-suited to the wet working conditions on the production floor.

With the implementation of TME, all live transactions and inventory data – from receiving, to portioning, to blending, to casing, to shipping – are posted in real-time to the SQL database over the wireless network. TME initiates the process by importing inventory items, recipes and purchase orders from Trans-Ocean’s existing ERP system.

Warehouse personnel use PDTs to receive shipments. TME enables the user to select from only those suppliers with open purchase orders to minimize the amount of data that passes across the network. After the PO is selected the user is forced to enter configurable attribute data for the received shipment, such as condition and temperature. Next, all items were received collecting the vendor lot code from each item and one or more labels are printed to go on the pallet(s). Items can be put on hold as needed prior to QA being performed and the items being accepted or rejected.

By scanning the barcode labels that were printed at the receiving dock, Trans-Ocean is able to digitally track inventory as it is transferred from one location to another on the production floor. Trans-Ocean portions dry, wet and frozen ingredients in separate areas. With TME software, Trans-Ocean is able to control and track the ingredients used at each process step, by lot number consumed, to the batch being produced.

If production rejects material for one reason or another, it is recycled into future batches as appropriate. This recycled product is monitored to ensure that it is kept at the strict time and temperature constraints set by the HACCP guidelines for raw seafood.

When the finished product is ready for packaging personnel scan the recipe and then scan the box of bags with the PDT. By doing this TME verifies that the correct bags are used and captures the lot code of the bags to consume the bags into the product for future genealogy.

Once product is bagged it is pasteurized and then packed into boxes prior to being put on pallets and moved to the warehouse. Again, TME prevents the use of incorrect boxes for the product and consumes those boxes for genealogy. Finally, the correct quantity of finished product is put in stock.

Results

By implementing TME software, handheld terminals, barcode technology, and a wireless infrastructure, Tran-Ocean created a lean manufacturing process that increased quality, yield, and cost saving.

The customer is receiving numerous benefits from the system, including:

  • Complete genealogy.
  • Accurate measurements of ingredients.
  • Insurance that all ingredients are included in batches, and nothing extra.
  • Reduction of scrap batches.
  • FDA audits only take a few minutes. Previously, it would take days to prepare for audits.
  • Window of traceability reduced from 12 hours in a manual process to less than 30 minutes, minimizing the potential for disruption in the distribution process.