Valefresh, the fresh produce contractor, has implemented a wireless data capture system from Zetes to optimise its packing and production processes. Valefresh, which specialises in providing fresh fruit and vegetables to supermarkets including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s plus e-tail specialist Ocado, ships over 200 pallets daily.
The new solution, which comprises Zetes IND 2485 mounted terminals, Datamax mobile printers and MC9090 hand held terminals, has been integrated with Valefresh’s SAP ERP solution to provide real time visibility of production lines including quality control, stock utilisation, labour analysis and job costing. In the past this information was typically one day out of date as a result of the manual quality checks and data entry required to input previous production line information. Now, the system alerts management to issues as they arise and assigns a KPI against targets for each pallet as it leaves the production line.
The additional visibility improvements seen have helped to increase efficiency levels in the company’s chilled warehouse. In the six weeks since implementation, productivity at Valefresh has improved and a significant reduction in labour and production costs has been attained through greater automation and accuracy.
David Ratchford, IT Manager at Valefresh said, "We collectively selected a combination of touch screen terminals with mobile printers because we wanted a visual solution. RF functionality was also important because our business is entirely seasonal and certain production lines, are not used throughout the year so we needed to have the ability to redeploy our equipment without having to re-cable."
Currently, 7 of the 21 production lines at Valefresh have been automated with the solution, which, through its wireless design is portable and can therefore be assigned to different lines according to demand. As a result of the immediate success of the initial implementation, the company is seeking to increase the number of production lines equipped with the data capture solution.
Originally Valefresh estimated it would recoup its investment within 18 months but has since revised this to 12 months based on the early results seen. Already a proportion of the original capital expenditure value for the solution has been repaid by no longer having to print product labels. The additional staff members who were previously employed to complete the postproduction data entry stages have been re-deployed elsewhere within the packhouse operation.
Steve Binder, Senior VP Sales and Marketing at Zetes said, "Having full visibility of production information is essential for a fresh product supplier like Valefresh and this is a very simple yet effective wireless data capture solution which delivers the productivity and quality improvements Valefresh were looking for. We’re very pleased the initial results are so positive and anticipate these benefits will continue as Valefresh expands the system to other production lines."