Meat Processor Supplies Customers with the Right Products, at the Right Time

State-of-the-art Mettler-Toledo, Inc. tools allow Compaxo to streamline services and take advantage of efficiencies

From its origins in Gouda, Netherlands, the Compaxo family business expanded from a butcher shop to a factory style production of meat products. Today, an extensive range of meat products are produced by Compaxo. Its meat products are delivered in a variety of forms: cut, uncut, unpacked, fresh, low-oxygen and vacuum-packed.

In addition to the meat factory in Gouda, the Compaxo group also maintains a slaughterhouse for pigs and a bacon factory in Zevenaar. Each week, approximately 23,000 pigs are slaughtered and processed as carcasses into a number of main parts: shoulder, neck, bacon, belly and ham. The meat factory uses ultra-modern production techniques to manufacture bacons, which are largely exported to Great Britain.


High demands in the choice of control terminal

To modernize Compaxo's order processing system, it needed a reliable control terminal to be used on the work floor. A.K.M. Van Zoest, project leader at Compaxo explains, "A PC linked to scales would not last long in such a working environment. To meet our specific hazardous environment needs, an industrial PC and weighing terminal was required. For that reason, we turned to Mettler-Toledo, Inc."

Due to Compaxo's earlier experience with the Mettler-Toledo ID20 terminal, the choice was made to overhaul the current system to accommodate the new ID30 industrial weighing PC - technology that has extensive facilities for connecting a wide variety of peripherals. Additionally, with a single touch, an HMI box can be tilted to six different angles from vertical in 15-degree increments, ensuring quick, convenient operation and certain reading. Perhaps more importantly, this technology enabled Compaxo to take autonomous control over its weigh-dependent operation. The ID30 investment brought the additional benefit of a connected dispensing system, which turns off correctly - even if the operating system is needed to handle another task concurrently. This is especially beneficial in Compaxo's fast, automated processes - where safety is paramount.

Furthermore, the application software on the ID30 is compatible with Windows 2000 or Windows XP. To achieve a problem-free linkage between the weighing equipment and the application software, an MTScaleConnection was used. This standard software module ensured instantaneous communication between the weighing equipment and virtually any software application utilized currently or in the future. "Its connectivity to higher level systems was an extremely important factor for us in choosing the ID30 as a weighing control station," says Van Zoest.


The order procedure

As in the past, Compaxo orders come in on an ERP system. Once they have been processed through administrative controls, the orders are placed on the Order Picking Server for physical item selection. Today, nearly 50,000 order lines are processed in this nature each week, compiled from fresh stock. To accommodate this production demand, the order-picking server has its own workstation for order and process control, to enable monitoring of the order picking process.

For item selections, a list of all the relevant information concerning the customer and the order is printed. Based upon this list, all products are collected in plastic crates and rolling containers. Incorrect or incomplete customer supply has consequences - any identified errors and corresponding corrections then have to be made along the rest of the distribution chain.


Meeting the need

Mettler-Toledo, Inc. supplied nine stations to Compaxo, all linked to the Order Picking Server. These control stations consist of an ID30 industrial PC, linked to a weighing platform, a cordless (RF) bar code scanner and a label printer. "After the order number has been scanned, the order is taken from our server to the control weighing station where the individual order lines appear. By scanning and weighing the items one after another, we know whether the order line has been picked correctly," shares Van Zoest. "If there are any impermissible weight deviations, this is spotted straight away and corrected wherever possible. For order lines that are checked by quantity rather than weight, our operators can give a manual okay via the ID30 terminal."

Item scanning allows the operator plenty of freedom of movement, thanks to the use of cordless barcode scanners. For weighing the rolling containers, three control stations are equipped with a floor platform that can weigh up to 1,500 kg. The labels printed for an order contain all the customer and product information necessary for further distribution. Finally, the finished order is made ready for transport to the relevant branch, wholesaler or distribution center, while the actual data for the picked order is passed on by the order picking server to the ERP system, which generates the invoice and packing slip.


Control of material flow

Today, with nine order picking control stations, Compaxo has the majority of its material flow under control - which means optimal ease of operation for staff. "By continually working on further quality improvements of both our product and the associated logistics, we are always able to supply customers with the right products at the right time," Van Zoest concludes.