Labels produced on mobile printers during the check-in process are again at the heart of the visibility system.When growers deliver berries, a Driscoll loading worker equipped with a Motorola® handheld computer and a Zebra Technologies QL 320™ mobile printer meets the truck at the receiving area. The receiving clerk identifies the grower, counts the number of flats of berries received on each pallet, and enters the data into the handheld computer.
The information is sent over a wireless LAN and immediately updates Driscoll's warehouse management and ERP systems. Pallets received a serialized barcode labels and the contents get an ID label produced on the QL 320. From that point forward, Driscoll can associate each flat of berries with a specific ranch, and can access the information in real time.
"Driscoll is dealing with perishable goods that are in great demand nationwide. Real-time information is critical to their process and downtime is not an option. We needed the mobile solutions that were both durable and reliable," said Todd Baggett, president of Redline Solutions, Driscoll's mobility and wireless system partner. "The Motorola mobile computers' wireless networks combined with Zebra® mobile and stationary printers were the perfect fit."
Pallets are then routed for inspection and cleaning, with barcode scanning recording every movement. Driscoll builds records on quality, yield and other information specific to the ranch, day, lot and SKU.
At this point the berries are often still warm from a lifetime spent ripening under the sun. Even the box labels are warm, because receiving and labeling are often done outside. But berries are shipped and stored cold, and a rapid transition to a cold environment can damage the fruit and the label. Driscoll protects its berries by placing them into a pre-cool room to bring the temperature down as quickly as possible. Once cooled to the proper temperature, they are stored in the cold storage warehouse until they are staged into orders for shipping.
The cooling process is great for berries, but creates a challenge for identifying them. Temperature changes and condensation can make labels unreadable, and special adhesives are usually needed to ensure labels won't fall off in cold environments. As a Zebra Premier Partner, Redline Solutions is highly skilled and experienced in printing and media issues. It was able to quickly recommend a label material and adhesive that would remain affixed in cool and damp conditions, while remaining readable throughout supply chain processes.
The reliability of the Zebra equipment and the label material has been fine. That's important, because reliability is of primary importance for this system," said Bonds. "We deal with a perishable product, so we can't afford for the system to go down, and we can't have our people spending much time loading label media or troubleshooting the printers."