Winner: G's marketing
Project: Linkfresh Label Check Project
Business goal: To eliminate quality control issues through the accurate labelling and inspection of consignments.
Project partner: Anglia Business Solutions
Suppliers of fresh produce to supermarkets operate on wafer-thin margins, so any operational problems can easily wipe out hard-won profits.
This was the challenge facing G’s Marketing, a Shropshire-based supplier of fresh produce. The 50 year-old company, with sales of around £200 million, is a long-standing supermarket supplier of produce grown in the UK and Spain. Until recently, its processes involved the thorough testing of only a proportion of the consignments it was shipping out, a situation leading to mistakes and ‘Emergency Product Withdrawals’ (EPWs).
When it analysed the root cause of the problem, however, the company discovered it most often stemmed from simple labeling errors. The sheer volume of produce, together with the similarity of labels, made it difficult for inspectors to distinguish one consignment from another – leading to “label blindness”.
Not only was the issue threatening its business with supermarket clients, it was proving very expensive: with fines of between £20,000 and £50,000 per incident, EPWs were costing G’s £250,000 a year.
The solution came in the form of an innovative mobile label checking and quality control application developed by Anglia Business Solutions over just three months. Each dispatch and quality control operative now carries a handheld device instead of a clipboard, and the operator is taken through a series of checks to be carried out for each particular consignment. Only when all the checks have been carried out and satisfactory results achieved, can the produce be released for dispatch.
Crucially, the reduction in checking time and the overall improvements in dispatch productivity, means that all produce is now checked for label accuracy before dispatch.
As well as at its distribution depots in the UK, the devices are also deployed at G’s subsidiary in Spain, where mobile workers may be in areas with no network connection such as a ship’s hold or a field. In this case, a store-and-forward feature updates the data at the first opportunity.
Since the system’s deployment, no EPWs have occurred. It has also cut costs, as quality control inspectors now work fewer hours.
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