News & Updates

April 3, 2014

Lot Trace Solution at Leading Tea Brewer

Automated Lot Trace Solution installed at True Brew provides 100% Traceability.  True Brew is a family-owned and operated company in Plano, Texas. Many years ago they started brewing tea for themselves, which then grew into sharing samplings with friends and neighbors. After receiving overwhelming requests for their all-natural organic tea, True Brew was born.

Using their unique brewing process, True Brew take the finest organic tea leaves and brew them slowly to perfection, providing consumers with an extraordinary quality of brewed iced tea, rich in antioxidants. True Brew also produce the best tasting natural fruit juices and fruit drinks you’ll ever find, made the same careful, natural, healthy they make their teas.

From humble beginnings, True Brew now supply organic teas and juices to many Texas retailers including Albertsons, Brookshire’s, 7-Eleven, Kroger, Whole Foods.

Like many leading beverage manufacturing companies, True Brew has a reputation for quality and consistency – they also have an important brand to protect along with a commitment to their customer base for safe, high quality baked goods that can be traced back to the source ingredients within a rapid timeframe. This can present a challenge to any beverage supplier, especially those which rely on paper records to conform.

To provide the highest level service to their customers and to satisfy the stringent needs of the SQF traceability requirements, True Brew contacted SG Systems with a clear view – an automated lot trace process, production ingredient control, GS128 finished product labeling & wireless order picking and fulfillment.

True Brew selected the SG Systems for their Automated Lot Trace Solution implementation based on their experience of 2000+ global installations and over 30 years of implementations addressing traceability challenges within the food and beverage industry. The solution provides traceability in line with most auditing and traceability standards, such as HACCP, GFSI, SQF, AIB and BRC.

Automated Lot Trace Solution – Solution Overview

The Automated Lot Trace Solution is a unique combination of software and hardware designed to bridge the gap between management level and the shop floor operations (Receiving Inventory, Ingredient Weighing, Production Scheduling, Traceability and Sales Order Fulfilment.)

This report outlines the components implemented as part of the project at True Brew.

Receiving Inventory (Ingredients, Packaging)

A Management Software License is installed on Office PC. This is combined with a barcode label printer to identify all inbound materials.

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. A new internal lot number is generated to guarantee the uniqueness of the lot number.

The Automated Lot Trace Solution software prompts Commodity Specific Quality Assurance questions for each received item. (Typical QA questions relate to Supplier Seal Numbers, Driver ID, Black Light Inspection Checks, Supplier COA, Allergen Protocol Compliance etc.)

Shelli Ruppman Kranz, President of True Brew comments “Accurate inventory visibility has saved money in labor & improves our cash flow by holding minimum stock levels. Prior to the Automated Lot Trace Solution implementation, our manual system required close scrutiny and a monthly cycle count – this was time consuming, expensive and problematic”.

Production Planning, Ingredient Weighing & Recipe Control, Finished Product Creation

1 x SG Systems Ingredient Weighing Touch Screen Terminals with Integrated Sartorius Scales are installed in the Tea Weighing Room. All weighing for the plant takes place in this room (minor ingredient for the tea and bulk recording for the liquids). The terminal has operator touch screens which require a login before displaying the formulas required for Production. As the operator selects the formula, the system prompts for each of the ingredients (ensuring they are weighed within management set+/- tolerances). Each ingredient requires a lot number to be selected to ensure accurate inventory traceability. Intermec Barcode Label Printers provide batch labels upon completion of the weighing process.

Each batch of tea is identified with a unique batch number.  This batch number is used to identify the batch as it goes through the transformation process (bulk batch into finished bottles).  In turn, the batch number is linked to the finished product lot (bottles are coded by inkjet printers).

Sales Order Processing & Shipping

A Wireless Mobile Computer is used in the shipping location to allow the finished product batch number to be tied to the sale orders (entered on the PC). Operators use the Intermec CK3X Mobile Computer to select the customer and scan the finished product batch number. The process allows the orders to be processed faster and the traceability to be verified – reducing inventory of scanned cases of bottles.

Shelli remarks “The Automated Lot Trace Solution capability has made our shipping process more efficient by enabling us to effectively enter and track all cases. This has also helped in reducing paperwork and by saving a lot of time manually creating/entering/handwriting information onto a spread sheet. The system has also helped us to reduce any invoice/packing errors as orders are cross checked between the invoice and the Automated Lot Trace Solution”

Tracking and Tracing

All of the aforementioned processes communicate with a central server / PC 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 customer.

The Automated Lot Trace Solution provides the backbone for production traceability and is available in modules to suit most companies’ needs and budgets.

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