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Lemon Grower Tracks Worker Productivity

A new RFID system enables Argenti Lemon to track the quantity of lemons its employees pick, as well as the fruit's location as it is processed and shipped.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 23, 2009Argentine fruit producer Argenti Lemon S.A. is employing an RFID system provided by systems integrator and software company Noanet to track the productivity of its workers in the field as they pick lemons. The firm is also using the system to manage its payroll, and to track its inventory as it is processed and shipped.

The system, which includes Psion Teklogix's 13.56 HF tags that comply with the ISO 15693 standard, as well as its Workabout Pro handheld readers, allows the lemon grower to scan fruit packs and employee badges to connect a worker with his or her picked fruit each day. The lemons are then loaded into tagged bins that are tracked as they are processed and shipped to ports on pallets.

Argenti Lemon is one of Argentina's largest growers and exporters of citrus fruit. The company operates 24 plantations throughout the country, and employs approximately 2,000 workers to harvest the fruit, including 3,500 bins of lemons picked daily.

Traditionally, the company has managed worker productivity and corresponding pay scales manually. A picker first fills a pack with fruit. That person attempts to pick the highest quality fruit, which also tends to be the largest and heaviest, then presents the pack to a field manager at a scale, where the basket is weighed. In the original system, the manager would manually write down the worker's name, along with the weight of the picked fruit. That piece of paper was then sent to an office, where the numbers were input, and the employee's pay was calculated based on the amount of fruit picked.

There were several shortcomings to that system, however. For one thing, it was labor-intensive. In addition, there were cases of worker fraud, as some employees would send someone else to fill in for them. That individual would then spend a day picking, and the paycheck would be issued to a person who did not actually do the work.

About two years ago, according to Fabian Audisio, Psion Teklogix's Latin American sales director, Argenti Lemon began working with Noanet and Psion Teklogix on an automated solution. "They were looking for traceability in their fields," he explains.

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