Quality assurance and traceability requirements are becoming evermore stringent, placing a greater burden than ever on fresh produce suppliers – yet when it comes to quality control, many companies still lack a consistent and reliable system.
Germany’s Dr Lippert Instruments has developed a new tool that it claims can take the strain out of quality control by unifying control processes in a single app that helps employees carry out physical checks more precisely and efficiently.
“The FruitCheck app has been developed specifically for fresh produce chains, and is the result of our many years of technical knowledge in the fruit and vegetable business,” explains the company’s manager, Frederick Lippert. “No matter whether it’s in the field, packhouse, logistics platform or distribution centre, the app is designed to be an integral part of the business process while not interfering with other processes.”
Users can perform quality control checks via the FruitCheck app on their tablets or smartphones. They are guided by means of an easy-to-use menu navigation system that takes them through the relevant procedures step by step. The information is then transmitted in real time to the required people via a personalised database, where it can be monitored and evaluated.
“FruitCheck has two key features: firstly it supports QC staff by providing guidance and help in carrying out controls, and secondly, it provides a database and evaluation tool that can be used by buyers and quality managers at anytime and anywhere to supervise control status as well as to conduct product- season- or supplier evaluations on demand,” explains Lippert. “It is also compatible with all relevant ERP Systems on the market, and thus can be integrated in different kind of company structures.”
This ensures greater transparency along the supply chain, allowing all actors to be equally informed.
Another unique feature of the app is that it is equipped with real-time translation, reflecting the global nature of today’s industry. It means a South American grower can use the app in their mother tongue and the generated report will arrive at its destination in the correct, predefined language.
“Language plays a key role in the fresh produce trade,” says Lippert, “and this prevents misunderstandings, ensuring that all actors in the chain are informed instantly and correctly, saving time-consuming interpretation problems.”
By simplifying the entire quality control process, Lippert points out that the app accomplishes one other important goal: consistency. By doing away with the need for excessive paperwork and complicated procedures, it gives companies a clear focus as to whether they are meeting the demands of their customers.
FruitCheck was initially created by Dr Lippert Inspection for internal use by employees, in order to unify the work of inspectors, QC personnel and auditors nationally and internationally. As the system was developed, word spread and more and more clients became aware of it until last year the company decided to launch it for the wider industry.
“Nowadays, retailers and discounters are using FruitCheck in their distribution centres and logistics platforms, as well as wholesalers who say it brings more professionalism to their quality control systems and allows them to better monitor their suppliers and react promptly,” Lippert says. “It is also used by a number of growers and cooperatives during harvest or processing and before shipping to international markets.”