The Produce Traceability Initiative, an initiative sponsored by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 US, Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association, is aiming to increase the traceability of produce as it makes its way from the ground to the store shelves.
A group of 50 produce retailers, wholesalers, distributors, packer-shippers and growers with the goal of achieving whole-chain traceability spearheaded the initiative.
The PTI is built on the GSI Global Traceability Standard, which defines a broad traceability standard that can be applied to a wide range of industries. The goal is for all participants in the North American produce supply chain to achieve case-level tracking by lot number for all produce, from supplier to store. Although there is no authority to regulate or require companies to meet its requirements, the PTI is an industry initiative that has gained widespread support from those who see the value in what it offers.
Voice-directed picking has long been used to support the PTI, and there is a voice pick code developed specifically for use with the PTI. Developed by HarvestMark, the PTI voice pick code has patent protection, but is available to all members of the produce supply chain on an entirely royalty-free basis. The PTI voice pick code is fully described in the Harvestmark white paper, which can be found here.
To be put simply, the code condenses the GTI, lot number, and date code (if available) to make a four-digit “hash code”. This code condenses a large amount of information into a much smaller “digest”, allowing it to be easily communicated with voice. In the event of a recall, all you would have to do is determine which pallet(s) contain the affected lot(s), and recall all cases with voice pick code(s) corresponding to the affected lot(s). As long as your warehouse management system (WMS) is set-up to track pallets within the warehouse, allowing you to know which store shipments contain product from any pallet, you can utilize voice to enhance the PTI.
Why should I use Voice?
Utilizing voice with the PTI allows your warehouse to take advantage of all of the benefits associated with voice, while further optimizing your operation around the PTI. Rather than having to refer to a piece of paper or screen on a scanner for directions, the voice software interprets directions from your WMS, and speaks them through a voice-enabled headset to your workers. Your workers then respond with check digits, like the ones shown above, which are sent back to the WMS to verify the task has been completed. This information is live updated in your system, ensuring that your inventory and order information is up to date at all times. In the case of the PTI, where nearly every product will have a check digit associated with it, this can save a lot of time scanning or writing, and will make your workers more productive, accurate, and safe.
The “Hands-free, Eyes-free” voice technology allows your workers to move around the warehouse, unencumbered by having to hold a scanner or piece of paper. Workers are able to simultaneously hear and respond to directions as they move through the warehouse, making their processes more efficient.
The voice system is set up to work with a series of check digits, which is a major reason why it is such a seamless fit for the PTI. These check digits are required by the voice system, and workers cannot continue on with a task without verifying that the check digits are correct. This increases the likelihood that the worker is in the right location, picking the right product and the right quantity. Many operations find that after implementing voice, their accuracy increases up to 85%.
Many processes in the warehouse require two hands to complete safely, but they are often completed with a scanner or clipboard in hand. This puts the product at risk of being dropped or mishandled (which, when dealing with produce, leads to bruised or otherwise damaged product that can no longer be sold), but it also increases the likelihood of worker injury. Voice allows your workers to stay focused on the task, and frees their hands up to safely lift product.
As the PTI becomes more common, many companies are looking for a way to make it more efficient. By voice-enabling the PTI, you can realize the benefits of the initiative, while improving your warehouse operations as a whole. If you are interested in learning more, you can download our Vitech Guide to Voice, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.