From that partnership established during the 1950’s, East Balt has grown to become a leading global baking company with 20 class leading operations across 12 countries. The company is now owned by One Equity Partners, the private investment arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co., and the strive for excellence continues.
McDonalds global reputation for quality and consistency goes right back to their supply chain: they have a valuable brand to protect along with a commitment to their worldwide customer base for safe, high quality baked goods that can be traced back to the source ingredients within a matter of hours. This can present a challenge to any bakery supplier, especially those which rely on paper records for compliance.
To provide the highest level of service to their customers, East Balt contacted SG Systems, LLC (SG Systems) with a clear set of objectives: Automatic Ingredient Recall, Production Batch Traceability Control and SAP Integration for wireless Sales Order Processing.
Dallas based SG Systems is the exclusive North American Distribution Partner for UK based Stevens Group Ltd (Est. London, 1844). With 2000+ global installations and 15 years of implementations addressing Batch Traceability challenges within the food industry, they were selected for the East Balt implementation with a project start date of June 2012. Their solution provides traceability in line with most auditing and traceability standards, such as SQF, AIB and BRC.
Batch Traceability – The Solution:
The SG Systems solution is a unique combination of software and hardware designed to bridge the gap between management level and the shop floor operations (Receiving, Minor Ingredient Weighing, Bulk Ingredient Discharge, Finished Product Management and Sales Order Fulfillment).
The networked Batch Traceability solution communicates in real time to ensure accurate traceability information is available on demand, without unnecessary delays.
East Balt Batch Traceability Project Includes:
- 2 x Receiving Software Licenses with Label Printers
- 2 x Minor Ingredient Weigh Scales with barcode readers
- 3 x Mixer Terminals with barcode readers for Bulk Ingredient Traceability
- 2 x Sponge Terminals with barcode readers for Minor Ingredients
- 3 x End of Line Finished Product Labeling Terminals for capturing yield
- 3 x Wireless Computers for Receiving and Sales Order Picking & Shipping
- 1 x Integration Services for SAP data exchange
- Multi Management Licenses for Inventory, Production and Formula Management
Receiving Inventory (Minors, Bulks & Packaging):
Management Software Licenses are installed on the receiving PC’s (1 for railroad carts & bulk ingredients, the other for minor ingredients and packaging).
As each commodity is received, the software is used to record the supplier’s lot number, supplier name, expiration date, quantity and location. This allows the product to be booked into the company’s facility (Dry Ingredients Warehouse, 5 x Flour Silos, 2 x Yeast Tanks, 1 x Sugar Tank, 1 x Oil Tank). A new internal lot number is generated to guarantee the uniqueness of the lot number.
When the ingredients are bagged or in tablet form, barcode labels are generated to capture the pallets, containers and bags.
The software prompts for Commodity Specific Quality Assurance Questions for each received item. Questions relate to supplier seal numbers, driver initials, black light inspection checks, allergen protocol compliance, and the like.
Each lot is booked into the database and marked as RAW STOCK – this keeps the inventory in a locked state to prevent unauthorized floor usage. When the commodities are moved to the lines, the receiving operator uses a mobile scanner to move the commodity to the location required (WEIGHROOM, LINE 1 – 3, TANKS, SILOS etc.).
Minor Ingredient Batch Traceability Weighing (Container Referenced Submixes):
2 x Vantage Touch Screen Terminals with Integrated Weighing Scales and Barcode Readers are installed in the Weighing Room. The majority of hand weighing for the plant takes place in this room. The terminals have Operator Touch Screens which require a login before displaying the formulas required for the production lines. All ingredients which can be weighed in advance of mixer production can be weighed in this room.
All formulas in the system are approved by Sandra Gomez, East Balt’s QA Manager. Sandra comments, “The operators in the weighing room can select formulas which they are running on the lines. As the operator selects the formula, the system prompts for a container number, then each of the ingredients are prompted and weighed within management set tolerances (+/- 0.02lbs from target). Each ingredient requires a lot number to be selected or scanned from the ingredient bin (managed FEFO). The red containers are mini inventory locations and the ID of each container is unique. This allows us to enter in the container number at the mixing stage to transfer the traceability.”
When the containers are full, they can be moved to the Mixing Terminals where they are combined with the dough / sponge operations.
Sponge Ingredient Weighing:
2 x Vantage Batch Traceability Touch Screen Terminals with Integrated Weighing Scales and Barcode Readers are installed at the Sponge Mixers (Line 1 and Line2). The systems are installed as close to the Mixer Terminals as possible to record ingredients which are sensitive to the formulation. Sensitive Ingredients (A Tabs, P Tabs, Yeast Food, Relax, Novozym etc.) must be added to the mix as quickly as possible to guarantee the formula meets specification.
Sponge Ingredients are weighed or added to a container which is marked and tracked using ‘S-Type’ containers using the same system which runs in the weighing room. As each ingredient is weighed, its lot number is validated, captured, and the quantity is removed from inventory.
Mixer Ingredient Batch Traceability Control (Minor Submixes, Bulk Ingredients, Tablets):
3 x Vantage Touch Screen Terminals with Wireless Barcode Readers are installed at each of the 3 Production Lines (Line 1, Line 2, Muffin Line). The terminals are used to prompt for each of the steps required to complete the formulation prior to the production of the finished product.
The Batch Traceability terminals display the formulas and mix sizes for each of the dough options. Once selected, the system prompts for the bulk ingredients (flour, oil, sugar, water, yeast), their location (various silos and tanks), and their running batch numbers. The running batch numbers allow mixed lots for liquid usage, and FIFO for the powder ingredients. Water is treated as a ‘non-traceable ingredient’ and does not require lot validation.
After the bulk ingredients are tracked, the container reference number is entered for the submix(es) produced earlier in either the weighing room or at the sponge terminals. The container reference number allows the minor ingredients to be linked to the bulk mix to ensure complete Batch Traceability.
After the ingredient stages are complete, the inventory is deducted in real time to allow purchasing to know the status of the inventory. Various quality assurance prompts allow the software to track dough temperature, trough numbers, etc.
Finished Product Traceability:
3 x Vantage Terminals with Label Printers are installed at the end of the 3 production lines. The terminals allow the production managers to communicate the line specific finished product quantities and orders to the line operators who are responsible for the assembly and distribution of the trays and cases of finished product.
To carry the traceability to the finished product, each product is setup with SG Systems ‘Run Time’ software. The software allows the finished product to be automatically linked to the mixer recipe – after a set amount of time. The bun lines run at a different speed to the muffin line, so each product is setup to reflect this run time.
Brian Summ, Quality Systems Manager, comments, “The run time software allows mixer batch numbers to be automatically linked to the finished product number which is running at that time. If a product is running all day long, the system will show a list of the batches which are linked to the finished product and the time the batch was automatically added. Any batch which fails to meet our strict specification can be removed from the finished product ID using the Vantage Terminal located at the end of each line. This allows finished products to be tracked to the batch, but also allows flexibility required during baking”.
This process allows finished product inventory to be created and traceable back to the raw ingredients using a very simple process.
Sales Order Processing & Shipping:
3 x Wireless Mobile Computers and Scanners are used in the shipping location to allow the finished product batch number to be tied to the route number.
The sales orders for the bun line are transferred from SAP to SG Systems electronically, in the evening for the following day. Muffin line orders are entered into the SG Systems Order Processing Software directly. Each order contains the Route Number and the list of items ordered for each route and their respective quantities.
Operators use the handheld computers to select the route, scan the trays or cases, and scan the batch number used. The process allows the orders to be processed faster and the traceability to be verified.
Batch Traceability – Tracking and Tracing:
All of the aforementioned processes communicate with a central server which validates and stores traceability information relating to production, inventory, operators, locations, formulations and sales orders. The server has a reporting tool to allow supplier lot number led recalls to be tracked through to the finished product and to the respective route.
Dominic DeBlasio, VP Global Quality Systems, comments, “The various Batch Traceability processes required during the baking process make Batch Traceability a challenge for any baking company. The implementation of the SG System Batch Traceability product has allowed East Balt to capture Batch Traceability information at the point of processing (instead of using paper), without really altering many of our processes too much. The real time data allows audits to be completed in a matter of minutes, instead of hours, which installed a lot of confidence in our customer base. SG Systems has provided us with on-site and remote support when we needed it and training at multiple levels. They are open-minded about process improvements and take a real interest in our business”.
The Batch Traceability solution provides the backbone for production traceability and is available in modules to suit most company’s needs and budgets.
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