Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC)
Automated, Accurate Inventory Improves Efficiency in Alaska Seafood Operation
Seafood Producers Cooperative (SPC), founded in 1944, is the oldest fisherman’s cooperative in North America. The 500+ fishermen- owners catch salmon, halibut, and black cod in the Gulf of Alaska using traditional hook and line methods. Each fish is handled individually and cleaned immediately on board the boats to ensure the highest quality and freshness. As a cooperative, SPC is large enough to supply food service and retail establishments of all sizes, but small enough to focus on quality and service.
SPC has a state-of-the-art processing facility in Sitka, Alaska. The Co- op’s headquarters are in Bellingham, Washington.
SPC had been using a legacy barcoding and inventory system for over 20 years. The system used legacy technology and was nearing the point of failure; SPC recognized a new application was needed. In 2014, they implemented a touchscreen and barcode printing system tailored specifically for the seafood industry. Due to lack of training and support, as well as the system’s complexity, the project proved unsuccessful and was shelved.
In January 2015, SPC contacted Parity to install a new label printing and inventory system for their Sitka facility. The facility specializes in high quality troll caught fish. Each pound is extremely valuable and needs to be tracked via random weight in serialized cases.
Ultimately, SPC needed an inventory system to manage cases within their Sitka operation that was easy to use and understand, efficient to implement, and could eventually scale to their other facilities.
ParityFactory was implemented in two phases to automate inventory control from finished goods production through shipment to customers and/or transfer to third party logistics providers. All of their finished production is given a serialized tracking number at the case level. This includes both uniform and random production cases. One unique feature on the case recording process that the development team added is the ability to specify a random tare on an individual box. The user can now specify a product as random weight/tare and will be presented with a screen that allows them to specify box tare then total gross weight. The system then calculates the net.
Cases are palletized via a single step in the ParityFactory system with warehouse locations tracked and stored automatically. The produce and pack processes are efficiently simplified. Items are then either shipped out in containers or fresh. ParityFactory generates the bill of lading/shipping manifest for each scenario.
Following the successful completion of Phase 1, SPC wanted to integrate ParityFactory into their receiving operation at their off-load station. This would provide visibility of raw material inventory and lot tracing that would be linked to the finished good operations already in place. Given the high quality of the product and factoring in the freshness of shipments, offloading and scaling could not be slowed during implementation of ParityFactory. By utilizing CN51 handhelds and custom software configurations, the solution was implemented at SPC’s off-load station, further streamlining the facility and improving its reporting capabilities.
The Results and Benefits
Over the course of a few short months, SPC was able to achieve dynamic inventory reporting that updates in real-time and provides visibility to anyone in the company. The executive team in their Bellingham headquarters can see shipment reports as trucks are loaded, visibility they never had before. Previously, they had to wait for the paperwork to be faxed after one of the handful of users printed it. Automated, accurate inventory has had a widespread positive effect on the health of the operation.