Food and beverage and pharmaceutical companies are under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to meet more stringent quality control and serialization regulations. Within pharma, for example, there is a plan in place that requires serialization from the unit to the pallet. And for food companies producing catch-weight items, such as meat, that pass over a scale and are weighed and labeled, manufacturers must be able to capture and track that information.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is often used in discrete industries to automatically integrate all of this information through the supply chain. But, it’s a bit trickier to do in these process industries that produce batches with a variety of unit sizes.
The challenge is to keep the speed of the lines going while capturing all of the serial numbers and push them into the ERP system. Or to weigh, serialize, label, palletize and report on production all within one cohesive platform.
Deacom, an ERP company, has been hearing from its process customers who have been asking for more automation to help with FDA regulations. What they came up with is a tool called AutoFinisher, which automatically confirms that the catch-weight item adheres to the weight specifications maintained within Deacom ERP. The software then produces the appropriate label for the product with the catch-weight, serial number, and a barcode so it can be later used within Deacom warehouse management system (WMS).
And for pharmaceutical companies, where production lines run well over 100 units per minute, the Deacom AutoFinisher is able to generate serial number information and print relevant labels at unit and case levels without affecting production speed.
“The biggest thing is that it is all done in real-time,” said Scott Deakins, COO of Deacom, including integrating with systems like WMS. “So we are seeing manufacturing companies reengineer how they have the floor layouts because it is in real-time.”
How it works: The tool sits on a touch screen computer at the end of a line, and at the beginning of a job the operator types in the information, such as what is being produced, the lot number, expiration date, etc., and all of that data is pulled live from the ERP system, minimizing manual intervention. “As the job runs, they can view how much is finished and the efficiency of the line,” Deakins said.
By building the AutoFinisher directly into the core Deacom ERP software, the benefits to customers include:
- Weight Control: The AutoFinisher tool can receive catch-weight values directly from a scale or a machine without vendor configurations. Weight minimums and maximums are stored within Deacom ERP and pulled in real-time to ensure the product matches the pre-determined specifications.
- Multi-Level Serialization: A configurable serial number can be setup within Deacom ERP and leveraged by the AutoFinisher tool to automatically generate serial numbers for each unit, case, and/or pallet produced.
- Label Creation: A label with the relevant part information, catch-weight, serial number, and barcode can be automatically generated through the AutoFinisher tool in just 0.2 seconds. The label is created within Deacom ERP and can be setup on an item-by-item basis if necessary.
- Pallet Traceability: Once a full pallet of material has been produced, a pallet label with a unique license plate identifier and barcode can be generated. This facilitates the movement and sale of the pallet through the Deacom WMS.
- Production Management: Reports based on AutoFinisher data are available through Deacom ERP so production managers can review performance of work centers and operators.
The AutoFinisher ERP addition is currently available to all Deacom customers.