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Country Maid, a Milwaukee-based producer of dips, salads and side dishes, is benefiting from a food traceability, formulation control and product recall solution from SG Systems.

At the company’s USDA-inspected food preparation facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it creates its menu offering completely by hand.

In order to address traceability legislation, Country Maid decided to partner up with Dallas-based SG Systems, which provides a flexible approach to food traceability solutions and selects practical software and hardware to generate a return on investment (ROI) for its customers.

In this case, SG Systems supplied its Vantage traceability system, which complies with stringent legislations while delivering an ROI through improved yield at quality control points such as recipe weighing and finished-product portion control.

The Vantage solution combines hardware and software modules that integrate with the company’s accounts system (MAS90), providing seamless control for the production floor where ingredients such as spices, sauces and vegetables are weighed, blended and then packaged into different container sizes before being shipped to customers with fully traceable batch numbers.

It starts with a review of the production requirements, which are entered onto the SG Systems management software.

This schedule provides the Vantage shop-floor workstations with information relating to customer orders, delivery dates, items ordered and the available inventory to ‘deduct’ from.

The workstations take the form of Vantage touch-screen production-line terminals (recipe formulation, mixer collation and finished-product portion control and packaging stations), barcode scanners, label printers and heavy-duty platform scales.

When the line supervisors select the relevant production order from the Vantage touch-screen display, it details how many batches of a particular product have been scheduled.

Each formula is then weighed to a target weight, prompting the operator to weigh accurately and to work to weight tolerances set by management.

Only when the formula is exactly within the weighing tolerance will a label be printed to identify the batch as ‘ready for packaging’.

All ingredient lot codes are recorded at this point for full traceability.

Each finished-product label is unique and fully traceable.

The label displays information such as the batch number, the formula code and description, the expiration date, the mix size and the job number.

As each label is generated, the Vantage system adds product to available finished inventory to enable the management team to have real-time production information based on actual throughput with yield collected from the production floor.

Based on the Vantage traceability system, the reporting package can pinpoint which lot numbers have been delivered to which customers and when – all in real time.

The user enters the lot number into the PC, which will generate an ‘ingredient dispatch’ report, giving emergency contact details in the event of a product recall.

The report package also enables the visibility of operator performance, production throughput and production yield while generating no additional workload for the site staff.

Bill Carr, Country Maid’s president and chief executive officer, said: ‘To ensure the highest level of food safety and product quality for our customers, we needed a traceability system that collected its data from real events on the production floor.

‘SG Systems has provided us with a product that we have taken from an initial discussion to a working solution within a rapid timeframe by using proven building blocks of traceability.

‘Above all, the system is simple to use, easy to modify and generally popular with my team,’ he added.

SG Systems

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