LoBue Citrus Reaps Rewards of Automation

LoBue Citrus was able to improve their food traceability, accuracy and efficiency with help from Intermec’s smart printers.

The Problem
LoBue Citrus, a family-run grower and distributor of oranges that make up 4-5 percent of the California citrus industry, recognized the need to automate its traceability. Their old process was manual, which took a lot of time and resources to maintain, in addition to increasing the margin of error.

The Solution
LoBue worked with a software solutions provider in conjunction with Intermec Technologies in order to create a Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) friendly automated system with Smart Printing solutions.

“The key benefit for us is having a real-time, automated inventory control system, versus the manual system we’ve had in place, and being able to make decisions both in sales and production on what we have available to us in real time,” said Operations Manager Tom Clark.

LoBue used the Intermec PM4i industrial smart printer, which doesn’t require an additional computer to print labels, making it an affordable, easy-to-use solution.

“We always look at simple as being the best solution,” Clark said. “With the [Intermec] Smart Printers, all you need is a small area on a desk or a rolling cart to make this system functional. It seems to be a very cost-effective, simple solution to satisfying the requirements that are being requested of us today.”

By using the Intermec SR30 handheld barcode scanner, workers could easily scan barcodes, which then signaled the PM4i to print. Workers were then able to use the PM4i’s keypad to select a quantity. Since the PM4i doesn’t require an additional computer for printing, it was kept on a cart that could easily be moved to boxes that required tags. Once wrapped, the Intermec PB50 mobile printer was used to create a pallet tag. Between the PM4i and PB50, barcodes that identified the type of orange, ship date, destination, farm source and farm lot were produced. This powerful information allows LoBue to trace a shipment throughout its journey and back to its origin.

The Results
LoBue’s automated system can now trace oranges back to their origin in minutes, as opposed to 2-4 hours with their previous process. In addition, they improved their inventory accuracy to be between 98 and 99 percent. Best of all, having an automated system eliminated the need for physical inventories, which saved 16 hours of labor each day, or roughly $96-240 in labor costs per day.

Learn more about how automation improved LoBue’s citrus supply chain and watch the video below to see the automation transformation in action!