Many people like delicious and nutritious tomatoes - eaten as fresh fruit, tomato juice or with pasta. About 20 million Australians eat 22 kg of processed tomatoes per capita every year. KAGOME, a Japanese tomato processing company founded in 1899, claims to have a history of more than 100 years in the field of tomato cultivation and processing. Since 2010, the KAGOME Australian factory in Echuca has been growing and processing tomatoes to supply high-quality tomato products to food companies in Australia and other countries. SICK Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology enables KAGOME to ensure product traceability, and greatly improves the efficiency of production process.
According to the website of the Australian Food and Commodities Association (AFGC), "Protecting consumers'health and safety is the most basic requirement in the production and sale of food and commodities, and is also the legal obligation of all relevant enterprises." Quality control covers the whole process of KAGOME from tomato seed management, crop growth to product shelf sales. By minimizing the use of agrochemicals and maximizing the use of natural pollination, every tomato can grow in the most environmentally friendly way for people, crops themselves and the environment. Nowadays, how to realize the automation of Tomato Picking and processing is an urgent problem to be solved, and how to transport tomatoes from field to factory in the most efficient way is a logistics challenge.
Looking for Automatic Recognition Scheme
In Echuca's field, KAGOME uses 12 harvesters to load tomatoes into large, wide-mouth boxes of more than 300 14 tons. Each box filled with fresh tomatoes was unloaded onto a mat, waiting for a truck (12 in all) to deliver it to the ground pound near the factory. It takes about 90 minutes from the field to the KAGOME plant, and each truck can deliver three boxes at a time - that is, about 42 tons of tomatoes per truck at a time. Three years ago, there was always a queue of trucks near the pound, and drivers had to wait 12 minutes before they could get out of the truck and weigh the tomatoes. As part of the KAGOME quality control process, three samples must be taken from each box and tested in the laboratory to determine whether the tomatoes really came from KAGOME farms. In addition, drivers should prepare relevant documents to record the picking process, production and quality. This process increases the possibility of human errors in document-based quality control systems, which may lead to contaminated products reaching consumers, thus greatly increasing the risk of widespread spread disease due to food. Therefore, in order to ensure traceability, KAGOME Australia began to look for a way to realize the automatic recognition of weights without paper.
Ensure traceability: What is the best tomato identification scheme?
Food traceability refers to the process of tracking the product's history and sharing the data throughout the processing process - the so-called "from farm to table" program. Although traceability has always been a top priority in the food and beverage industry, the demand for real-time recalls in Australia has been increasing in recent years (due to faulty factory processing or product recalls by the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Authority FSANZ). Ideally, product recalls are not necessary at all; however, once a recall occurs, eliminating the impact as far as possible is the focus of each food manufacturer's compensation plan. Effective tracking and tracing system includes many parts. The first part is accurate and fast identification. Over the years, the main force of recognition has been the ubiquitous bar code. During the whole production process, food can be identified by a unique bar code, which can be pasted on containers during processing, finished product packaging, packaging boxes and pallets during transportation, and shelves in the final retail store. KAGOME experts are looking for real-time identification solutions that can cope with soil and tomato juice, as well as high temperatures and storms.
Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to Simplify the Picking Process
With the continuous development of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and the decreasing cost, its application in food tracking is becoming more and more widespread. It is widely used in large raw material containers and bulk mixtures. It provides enterprises with a variety of ways to simplify and manage related processes, especially in terms of traceability and process reliability. Wireless identification technology has opened up a new field for automatic data recording. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been used in the automotive industry for many years. After pasting a label on the car body, the data of each car can be written into it by encoding. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags can provide more functions than barcode technology, because they can be read/written directly without visual contact with tags. In addition, they are also very durable, so they can withstand high temperature, soil or humidity and other harsh environmental conditions.
Jean-Michel Maclou, industry sales manager of SICK Australia, and Christian Herr, sales engineer, presented RFU63x read/write devices to KAGOME in 2012. The device can be used as an ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification (RFID) solution for tracking and tracing reusable containers, and also provides batch detection capabilities. In addition, RFU63x can also be used as an independent intelligent system. The integrated functions such as data processing and filtering can ensure stable reading performance and short reading cycle. In January 2013, KAGOME installed six SICK RFU63x devices in Echuca's weights and unloading area, each equipped with three antennas for double-deck containers. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags fixed to tomato containers have strong tolerance and stability, and the self-harvesting process has been accompanied by around. RFU63x fully meets the needs of KAGOME for automatic identification of tomatoes without paper. In this way, we can use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to avoid the errors that often occur in the process of goods entering and leaving, such as inaccurate quantity and quality data and missing accounts.
SICK RFU63x Reader does not require visual contact with RFID Tags
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can identify the source of tomatoes in real time. In the process of paperless identification, truck drivers no longer need to get off at the weights, thus improving their safety. Trucks spend less time at the pound, and long trucks at the pound and in front of the tomato unloading area have become a thing of the past, greatly improving transportation efficiency. Given that the time taken by the truck at the pound has been reduced to 2 minutes from the previous 12 minutes, the truck driver can run one more trip per 12-hour rotation.
Assuming that there are 12 trucks in the fleet, each truck can carry an average of 42 tons of tomatoes, the productivity can be increased by 504 tons through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. With the help of more reliable real-time data brought by SICK intelligent recognition technology, KAGOME not only acquires the ability to make the best decision, but also greatly improves productivity and efficiency.
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