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Agriculture Co-op Tracks Cherry Tomato Production

Spain's Granada La Palma deployed an inventory-management solution at its warehouse and sorting plant, to improve efficiencies and customer service.
By Bob Violino
Feb 23, 2014

Granada La Palma SCA, located in the Granada province in the southeast of Spain, produces and sells fresh fruits and vegetables, and claims to be the world's largest producer of cherry tomatoes. The cooperative comprises a group of more than 600 professional farmers, and its main markets are in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Scandinavian countries, as well as in Spain.

The company's key corporate mission is to deliver a steady supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to customers, which requires having a good handle on product inventory and supply chain processes. To better manage its cherry tomato products, Granada La Palma deployed an RFID inventory-management solution in September 2013 known as Fruttec, from Ériddes Informática Industrial, also based in Spain.

The company implemented an RFID inventory-management solution to improve the efficiency of its tomato-tracking process.
Prior to its RFID implementation, Granada La Palma tracked pallets and boxes filled with cherry tomatoes using either manual processes or bar-code scanners, which were both subject to human error, according to Domingo Rodriguez, the company's operations manager. The bar-code system had a number of drawbacks, he says, such as high operational costs, a lack of accuracy and overall low levels of confidence among the company's management and customers.

"The bar-code system produced frequent human errors," Rodriguez states. "Operating costs were high, because each batch of fruit needed a different bar-code label." In addition, damage to the labels due to the working environment caused read errors.

RFID readers and antennas identify the tagged pallets when they arrive at the warehouse.
"The quality-control process was too cumbersome and laborious," Rodriguez adds. "Automated reading was difficult, and identifying stock by location in the warehouse was impossible with this system." Aditionally, the solution was not integrated with the company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, so it could not be leveraged for the purposes of inventory management and production planning.

The RFID solution tracks the cherry tomatoes from the cold warehouse where they are temporarily stored, to the production line where they are sorted and packaged for customers. Finally, it monitors tomatoes' movement to the logistics area, where they await shipment to customers.

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