Fontestad is a family business of recognised prestige in the handling and distribution of citrus fruit, which follows the trail blazed by Vicente Fontestad Planells, who founded the company as a legal entity on 1st October 1984.
Since then, the company has continued to grow, from humble beginnings as a small market fruit stand in the 1950’s to a company with facilities covering 50,000m2 and presence in Mercamadrid and Perpignan.
Its production totals 160 million kilograms of oranges per year, from 900 hectares of orchards owned and monitored by the company, and distributed over three regions (Valencian Autonomous Community, Andalusia and Murcia) representing 40% of the total volume.
It is precisely due to the huge volumes that Fontestad can process that allows it to always achieve its primary objective: to guarantee the highest quality produce to its customers at all times. To achieve such quality Fontestad already had an automatic system to manage the control of production and traceability which allowed Fontestad to ensure excellence.
However, this automatic system was not complete since Fontestad didn’t control the productivity of its operators automatically, but manually.
Due to the growth of the volume of pallet traffic, and the constant increase in production, the existing manual control process had a high risk of information loss and did not allow them to associate production information to each operator. They needed to get the traceability information of all their traceability to the maximum detail, automatically and reliably.
Fontestad decided to look for an automated solution for monitoring the operator’s productivity and wanted this new solution to be integrated in its existing automatic solution.
The efforts of Fontestad to find the best technology to perform this control in their facilities led them to carry research to test different data capture technology. They found two main obstacles: the applied technology consumed excessive computer resources and had serious problems with image capture due to changes in ambient lighting throughout the day, which greatly complicated the decoding of bar codes.
In short, Fontestad was looking for a solution that would allow it to unify all its processes in a single automated system.
Fontestad was looking for devices that would allow it to assure its quality objective in a fast and reliable way, while saving resources and time. A camera-based system was identified as the best solution to help them control all the processes of stock, traceability, production and productivity, and that was easy to integrate with their solution.
Datalogic proposed fixed readers based on 2D image Matrix™ 300N as the best global and versatile solution for the different reading and data capture points.
Among the main features of the M300N include, for this application, its liquid lens, which allows greater depth of field thanks to its autofocus at different reading distances. Its high capacity and speed of decoding the code frees up the resources of the Fontestad computer system. Integrated, self-adapting lighting eliminates image capture problems and ensures successful readings regardless of ambient light changes.
The Matrix 300N fixed reader also allowed easy installation and quick adaptation to the system that Fontestad already had. Since it is a programmable reader, Fontestad’s own IT department could set the usage parameters and adapt it to their needs. This reader delivers excellent reading performance and the ability to capture and decode different types of codes, both 1D and 2D at high speed, , which offered more flexibility to Fontestad.
Fontestad now has a unified system with integrated Datalogic cameras, allowing them to control all processes, from stock management to production and productivity control.
The boxes that arrive from the field, filled with plenty of fruit, are labeled in Fontestad with all the details about their origin and other information necessary for their traceability. Then the fruit is pre-calibrated and stored in cold rooms, or vice versa. Once pre-calibrated, the fruit is re-labeled with the quantity and date, to then make the different types of products for sale. Once the boxes are made, they are labeled and ready for order preparation. Throughout this process, the Datalogic Matrix 300N readers read the labels to ensure traceability.
With the aid of the cameras, Fontestad can also track what each operator has produced and analyse of the cost of labor. Operators control a screen that indicates the stock level, assigns the stock to the orders before they start producing and allow them to see what they have left to produce.
In addition to the cameras, the automated systems of Fontestad have built-in Datalogic safety curtains to guarantee the safety of the operator in each of the processes.
"Datalogic devices have helped us reduce the resources used and improve the results. The solution allows us to have real time information of our processes and to know the location and productivity of the operators", declares the Director of Production of Fontestad.