There’s more inside a beverage product: certified raw materials, a safe and sustainable production process, effective logistic and distributions, timely recall management.
(video: Antares Vision)
thanks for the content:
Davide Antonioli, Nicola Franzelli, Paolo Gilberti, Fabio Marezza, Ferdinando Salaris
In a virtual meeting we talked about how the history of food products and their traceability can be written. We did it together with Davide Antonioli (Communication Department of Antares Vision), Nicola Franzelli (Strategic Account Manager of Antares Vision), Paolo Gilberti (Antares Vision and FT System Business Development Manager) and Fabio Marezza (Key Account Manager of FT System).
Tracking safety food and beverage serialization
The history of food products is linked to their tracking and monitoring. It starts from the origin, where they are produced, with what characteristics, the recipe used, its packaging, up to the information that the consumer finds on the packaging, those required by law and those useful for consuming the product or having insights and even curiosities about places of production and qualitative characteristics.
Detailed knowledge of the history of food products is increasingly important for the production chain but also for the final consumer. Being linked to the production lot, you can know the history of the production but not of the individual product. The market is evolving towards the need to trace the single product and no longer the production batch. This transformation in the production and the Food and beverage serialization approach was endorsed by Antares Vision and FT System.
Every single food product becomes fundamental
The road taken is towards the tracing of the single element, no longer of its production lot, to the Food and beverage serialization, explains Nicola Franzelli.
“The monitoring of each product allows the management of a series of specific and interesting features. Imagine how important it is to avoid the withdrawal from the market of the entire production if a contaminated or defective product is found.
In addition to this, there is also the improvement of the monitoring and control process: currently the sampling used is destructive, this means that tons of product and packages are literally destroyed every year with huge waste of resources and additional costs related to the disposal itself“.
There’s more inside a product: certified raw materials, a safe and sustainable production process, effective logistic and distributions, timely recall management. Gathering these information allows the creation of an intelligent ecosystem where data become valuable informations.
(video: Antares Vision)
How did the need to track every single product arise?
Nicola Franzelli (Strategic Account Manager of Antares Vision): “Monitoring and tracking a single product in order to know its history is a need born in certain sectors of some international markets. An example is that of spirits, for which the mandatory tracking of each bottle has been imposed in order to apply the relative state tax”.
Antares Vision has the specific solution to do this. Traces the single bottle with its code, continues Nicola Franzelli, “it is then inserted into the case which will have a parent code together with the individual codes of the bottles contained. The cases will then be aggregated on pallets in order to trace where they will be sold individually and the path that the bottles take; all this originates from a regulatory requirement“.
The tracking of individual products is required for Food and beverage serialization or for pharma, for example, in grey markets, when operating outside the established and turnover-producing commercial distribution relationships; for example, you can send a pallet of goods to Greece and then find individual products of that pallet resold in Egypt, you understand the importance of the ability to track each individual product instead of the batch. Just imagine the package leaflets and the instructions to be attached in the different languages in the pharmaceutical sector or the indications on the label for food and beverage.
Powder milk and its history written in QR codes
“Among the precursors in food traceability we can indicate the milk powder producers in the Chinese market who used serialization with the QR code on the individual containers to comply with state regulations,” explains Nicola Franzelli. “Today different products guarantee safety, authenticity, originality and uniqueness of the products thanks to the labels with the serialized QR code, unique for each container“. The QR code provides information on the product to guarantee authenticity, it also provides information on consumer purchasing behavior, on the efficiency of the distribution network and can provide data for marketing, communication and to study and create new products.
The batch in production
When working on orders, the unit of measurement is usually the production lot or batch. “Up to now, the production batch has always been an indefinite quantity, often of large dimensions”, explains Paolo Gilberti (Antares Vision and FT System Business Development Manager). “We choose to make a large batch as these are easy to manage under normal conditions; however, they become a complicated and onerous problem when these large lots have to be withdrawn from the market for various reasons “.
When a defect is found in a batch, it must be recalled in its entirely and it is easy to understand that it could be a very costly, complex, time-consuming solution to manage it compared to a small batch. For this reason for Food and beverage serialization, the trend of the fragmentation of production batches grows thanks to technology, avoiding complications and costs related to the withdrawal of large quantities.
In the production of brioches, for example, large quantities of flour, milk, eggs, etc. are used. If the flour supplier informs us that a batch delivered has had problems, I must withdraw the entire production involved. It is clear how important it is to break up the batch and the market is moving in this direction, also taking into account that reducing the size of production batches does not have much greater management costs than large batches.
What’s behind a premium bottle of wine? There’s a certified production process which regards raw materials, sustainability, refining, bottling, logistics and distribution. Gathering these information allows the creation of an intelligent ecosystem where data become valuable informations for you and your customers.
(video: Antares Vision)
From serialization to the label: trends in production processes
Food and beverage serialization is the management of traceability of every single product placed on the market to which the food sector is converging. This trend adds to the reduction in batch sizes. In the midst of this transformation of the production aspects, an equally important element is a greater attention to the label of the products. “Until a few years ago, the label was essentially considered the support for printing the lot number and expiration date in a more or less legible way. Today, if the batch number or the expiry date are missing or if it is not possible to read it correctly, they are sent back by the large distribution. If only one label in packets of biscuits is found that is not well printed, they send back the entire pallet of products. Lately, the attention of large retailers on products and the quality of information on them has increased significantly“.
The technology to verify the correct characteristics of the label developed by Antares Vision helps manufacturers in giving that transparency to the product in its entirety, from its origin to the final information label.
Food and Beverage: what are the differences between them?
We talked about the trends in food and beverage technology but what is the difference between these two markets?
Fabio Marezza (Key Account Manager of FT System) with great experience in both sectors explains that “the term beverage is rather generic, it includes both the bottle of water which has no great commercial value or can indicate a luxury product such as champagne with a high commercial value. In the beverage sector it is sometimes necessary to make volumes due to the very narrow margins and only the essentials are needed: it must be ensured that the bottle is filled correctly, capped and labeled and the product is affordable. Always remaining in the field of beverages, there are products that need attention for the reputation of the brand. For example, in champagne, the most used technology in production is the control of aesthetics, obviously keeping the high quality of the product firm. Great attention is paid to checking that the label is applied perfectly; if an extremely expensive bottle has a slightly crooked or defective label, I can guarantee that it remains on the shelf of the wine shop “.
“In drinks, there are significant differences between a bottle of water and a bottle of champagne, in the production of food everything we see is essential” continues Fabio Marezza. “The production process must be perfect and controlled: the metal detector checks that there are no metal parts, the label indicates allergens or other extremely important information. Other controls such as the verification of the quality and goodness of the product is found in the laboratory. To check if a drink is good, a sample is taken and analyzed to verify its taste and organoleptic characteristics “.
Very different speeds for two parallel worlds
“We can certainly say that the world of food and drink lives on two parallel worlds with different attentions and characteristics along the production chain“. Paolo Gilberti (Antares Vision and FT System Business Development Manager) explains that “in the food world there is a lot of attention to the intrinsic characteristics of the product itself. Apart from common materials such as stainless steel, food and beverage do not have much in common. We are talking about productions with completely different speeds. In food, the production lines reach 10,000 pieces per hour, which compared to those of bottling or canned production are ridiculous speeds given that you can reach 100-120,000 cans / hour with completely different orders of magnitude “.
The coding of standard platforms for content
Is there a single platform to make content uniform or are we still in the early stages?
We ask Nicola Franzelli. “We are certainly in the early stages but it is essential that GS1 has moved with a standard coding that everyone can adapt to. The standard encoding for RFID, for the datamatrix, for the QR code and for NFC tags allows you to standardize information regardless of the supplier “. There is the problem of the contents to be entered as information to be conveyed. The guidelines followed concern “the information that can be entered is manifold. We try to create a platform where the information to be released is selectively identified. The logistics operator is interested in certain information: where the product is, where it is passing through, a specific shipment. The end user is interested in knowing the origin of the products; it is important to have a place to store this information which must be easily accessible when needed “.
The data supply chain, sharing projects and blockchain
There are several projects in food and beverage serialization and data, such as that of IBM Food Trust and Antares Vision is also moving on the same tracks. The value of the data and their use depending on the operator of the supply chain are of particular importance, by the final consumer or even for the management of the entire supply chain or by the user who needs it from time to time. There are several movements on the market that have to do with all of this. The term blockchain is increasingly popular.
“The data is managed through blockchain technology or cloud platforms such as those we have been using for over ten years, it can be another specific database. There are examples brought by IBM, Antares Vision but also by certification bodies, such as CSQA with the PLAZA blockchain that work as consortia to group this information. We must understand the importance of the modularity of the solution, which must be interoperable between different actors “, continues Nicola Franzelli.
“The system is complex and requires a process and a part of activation on the line, where Antares Vision presents its technological proposal following its path. We participate in the Agrifood project, IBM has created its solution, CSQA has its platform and there are other certification bodies that have still other proposals ”. What matters is that the data can be shared and that communication standards improve the relationship between the producer, its brands and the trust of the final consumer.