Rosalee Raffa of Raffa Fields

Rosalee Raffa of Raffa Fields

New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radfords has achieved several firsts in onboarding Australian asparagus producer Raffa Fields’ new packhouse system.

The move marked Radfords’ entry into the asparagus sector, along with the first entirely remote implementation of its packhouse solutions.

“This reaffirms that our strategy to diversify into wider fresh produce sectors to complement our traditional kiwifruit, apple, citrus and avocado markets is on the right track,” said Radfords’ customer success manager Royce Sharplin.

“It would have taken a lot of trust to implement our systems from afar. Go-live last August followed a condensed timeframe from scope to delivery, achieved by a strong partnership with an enthusiastic and proactive team from Raffa Fields.”

FreshPack – an ‘out-of-the-box’ traceability, grading and inventory management solution – and quality control application FreshQuality were launched at Raffa Fields’ Victorian packhouse in time for its 2021 spring harvest.

Growth driver

Raffa Fields’ sales and operations manager, Rosalee Raffa, said the software had transformed packhouse operations and created multiple efficiencies, saving the company’s sales and logistics team up to five hours a day.

“Two years ago, we began supplying direct to Coles, which gave us the opportunity to also run an import programme,” said Raffa. “Between this and our local production process, our custom-built software solution was not keeping up with our needs.

“By April last year, we were in dire straits and asparagus season was approaching. We were looking for an end-to-end solution that could handle a complex and specific product process from harvesting the raw product to final sale.

“We went to see FreshPack in action at Priest Bros Orchards in Victoria and they couldn’t speak highly enough about the software and Radfords.”

Raffa Fields was undaunted that Radfords had not worked in the asparagus space.

“We saw it as an opportunity to be the first (in asparagus) to adopt its technology,” said Raffa.

“Importantly, Radfords supported our business as it was, and the software fitted like a glove. If anything, they adapted their processes to suit us. We prioritised the project over everything else because we recognised the importance of having it go-live for the harvest.

“It has eliminated manual processes and allowed us to focus on the job at hand, rather than be prohibited by an inflexible system. We’re now able to use our time to analyse the data, rather than spend that time trying to extract it.”

Easy to adopt

Radfords’ product owner, Nick Eggmann, said FreshPack had evolved in the years since its development to be ‘produce-agnostic’, allowing any producer to adopt it without customisation beyond minor configuration to suit individual workflows.

“More than 80 fresh produce packhouses around the world are now using FreshPack. As it is off-the-shelf, the only modification made for Raffa Fields (after go-live) was to integrate scales to record weight crates at the time of receival,” Eggmann said.

“Traceability was a key objective for Raffa Fields. They needed a system that provided good inventory and stock control from harvesting to distribution and helped them move away from handwritten notes and duplication of data.”

Eggmann said the biggest challenge for Radfords was not being on the ground at crucial stages of the 12-week project.

“We had to rely on information provided to be correct – everything from the layout of the packhouse to how the business worked,” he explained. “It required constant and clear communication and documentation. Raffa Fields’ willingness to invest in the process made the project successful.”