Tracking mangoes throughout the supply chain
Manbulloo, one of Australia’s largest mango growers, specialises in the Kensington Pride mango variety, delivering fresh mangoes to customers in Australia and overseas.
The company has been supplying fruit to its retail partner since 2005 and has worked closely with GS1 Australia for the past seven years, helping to drive the industry forward with technology and advancements in data sharing.
Manbulloo wanted to improve the process of information flow in its supply chain, particularly the efficiency of communications and business operations between Manbulloo, its ripeners and its customers.
Scott Ledger, Quality Manager at Manbulloo, described the company’s supply chain as fragmented, with errors occurring during marketing as timely information was difficult to obtain. Each partner in the supply chain operated their own proprietary information system. It was difficult for information, such as fruit temperature and ripeness levels, to be shared as the data was only directly available to Manbulloo.
Other members of the supply chain had to rely on Manbulloo sending the information by email. Other information was communicated verbally by telephone, reliant on people being available 24/7. Information was often received last minute and under pressure, resulting in errors, impacting heavily on all members in the chain.
Manbulloo wanted one product identification and traceability system for the whole supply chain, which each member could access. As well as a carton identifier that anyone in the chain could scan to identify the history of the fruit as the carton moved through the chain.
“What we needed was a ‘whole of chain’ information system that could be accessed by each member of the supply chain and information shared timely and accurately,” said Marie Piccone, CEO of Manbulloo.
Manbulloo already had GS1 barcoding embedded in its operations, with each fruit identified by a GS1 Databar label. It made sense to expand the use of the GS1 barcodes to provide improved communications and traceability up and down the supply chain. Ledger added: “The good thing was, because we used GS1, our supply chain partners didn’t need to upgrade or change their technologies. GS1 integrates with other systems including our crop management program and blockchain. The collective of information is available to us in real time and allows for greater data insights. This leads to an increase and improvement in product knowledge, inventory control and product quality, all creating a better consumer experience.”
Each Manbulloo mango is hand-picked and handled with care throughout the supply chain. Specially designed fruit trays are used to protect the fruit during transport and handling, until it reaches the supermarket shelf.
For Manbulloo to achieve enhanced levels of communications and visibility throughout the chain, the trays also required unique identification. To address this, the company switched its Freshtrack Gateway implementation to print GS1 serialised barcodes on the tray labels. This allowed every tray on every pallet from all seven Manbulloo farms and five pack houses to be tracked up and down the chain.
The company also used Freshtrack FieldOp, an application developed by Freshtrack Systems to complete quality checks on mangoes in the pack houses. The solution collects the information and generates the GS1 barcodes on the fruit trays and directly uploads to a blockchain system, in real time and without any loss in performance. Trust Provenance and Muddy Boots Software were also involved in the Manbulloo initiative.
Trust Provenance provided an integrity system that enabled all data points in the supply chain to be securely stored and accessed via one platform. The data was secured by a distributed ledger infrastructure (blockchain) and made available to supply chain partners with permissions for who sees what. Data points included food safety certificates, real-time temperature data, quality assessments and the location of shipments, all tracked using the serialised barcodes on the mango trays. Each data point is added to the blockchain using GS1 EPCIS event data standards.
With the whole-of-chain network in place, Manbulloo can enter a carton number and see throughout the supply chain where all related mangoes are from that batch. It also enables rapid reporting, and because it links with each system in the supply chain, it records, stores and makes information available in real time, providing flow-on benefits for optimising quality control and management.
“Using GS1 standards in conjunction with other technology solutions, we can now track every carton and every batch through the supply chain, from packing shed to retail shelf. Our order rejections at the retailer’s DC have reduced to very low levels. This is a major win for everyone in the supply chain as it saves an enormous amount of time and money,” Ledger said.
Ultimately, the improvements in data management helped Manbulloo increase the quality and integrity of its mangoes for consumers.
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