Many small farmers, growers, or food processors still use manual methods for controlling the various functions in their business. Perhaps they don’t want to invest in auto ID equipment because they think it’s too expensive, or maybe they don’t see the need for this technology in their small business.
However, there are inefficiencies in small businesses that can be automated with affordable barcode and labeling equipment. The first step might be to examine what you are doing right now to see if it is giving you the results you want. If not, then look at some of your processes to see if you can find areas that can be improved.
Let’s take a look at some typical processes and see if some barcoding and labeling can make a real difference.
Data Collection and Recording
Filling out a form is a common way to track what is coming into your farm or food plant and what is going out. It is simple and requires no special equipment but is prone to human error. Transposing digits of a part number, writing down the wrong quantity, or forgetting to write down data at all can cause you to have inaccuracies with your supplies or inventory. If you need to enter this data into a computer at some point, the data entry processes can also introduce new errors with typos or misreading of handwritten data. Data entry into a computer from a paper form is also a duplication of effort that adds some expense to the entire process.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could scan a barcode and get all of that information into a database in one step? The result is no data recording errors, more accurate counts of raw materials or ingredients, and a convenient database containing information on everything you’ve received or used for complete tracking and traceability.
Maybe you purchase from only a few trusted vendors and don’t feel the need to test or track what you get from them. How do you know where they are getting their supplies or be confident of consistent quality? Can you be sure that what you are getting is safe to use?
Raw ingredients with a barcode can include important information like lot numbers, origin locations, expiration dates, or anything else that is key to ensuring quality. Once you capture this data, the raw materials that are used in your processes are linked to each product batch. If there is a defective batch of materials from a vendor, you can know for sure which vendor it came from and where that batch of materials ended up.
Even small farms need to control their inventory. Nothing wastes money more than inventory that is past its expiration date and needs to be thrown away. Reducing waste while ensuring traceability keeps business costs low.
Barcoding gives you a way to keep an accurate count of all the materials you use. When you have access to accurate data on your materials, you can improve your ordering process and better manage your cash flow. You also can get control over shrinkage and waste, tracking it back to areas of your operation, departments, or even employees.
Conforming to Regulations and Standards
Small businesses need to conform to industry or government standards when selling their products. The Food Safety Modernization Act gives the FDA power to mandate recalls of contaminated food, and most food producers must maintain a safety plan and provide documentation that they’re following it.
Tracking your products throughout your process is the best way to ensure complete traceability of what you are shipping to customers, and the best way to ensure tracking success is with some type of barcode.
Using barcodes gives you visibility into every stage of your process, from raw ingredients to packaging for shipment to a retailer or for sale at a farm stand. With barcoding, you can be sure your products are fresh and safe.
You also have better insight into your expenses and control over your inventory, which can result in cost containment and better business decisions.
Adhering to standards, such as GS1, ensures that all parts of the supply chain – manufacturers, distributors, retailers – can easily share and use product data to limit any recall to just the affected products, avoiding major financial losses.
Could you benefit from the advantages a barcode can offer? Give us a call at (603) 598-1553. Whether you need labels that can withstand the elements or a complete track and trace solution, we can help you find the right solution to solve your particular problem.