An absolute necessity for companies in the food industry is perfectly systemised automation. “Everything relies heavily on the company’s infrastructure”, explains Yvonne Baarssen, project manager of Sea Fresh Retail, subsidiary of Sea Fresh, supplier of fresh fish.
Last year, Sea Fresh approached the automation company ReflexSystems in Almere regarding the software programme Reflex 3000. “We are currently launching a retail division in our company”, recounts Baarssen. “That’s why we need a new and efficient automation system. The current system is out-of-date. So far, we have been supplying mainly fish in volume packaging ranging from 2 to 30 kilos. Now we also want to supply a total range (natural, baked and speciality/seasonal products) of pre-packaged fish to supermarkets in packages from 200 to 600 grams. This new line has to run smoothly as far as automation is concerned.” It was for a good reason that the management at Sea Fresh contacted ReflexSystems. Roy Meenderink, sales manager Europe of ReflexSystems: “For years, we’ve been the market leader in the field of software and hardware for companies in the food industry.” So far, more than 500 companies from fish wholesalers, the game and poultry sector, restaurant and catering wholesalers and the bakery sector have all joined forces with Reflex.
Meenderink meticulously supervised the installation of the Reflex 3000 software programme and the Flex 3000 registration system at Sea Fresh. “It’s quite a job installing the software, which consists of more than 75 modules, in the correct combinations,” he explains. “Each company has its own requirements. At Sea Fresh, it is essential to be able to register the traceability of the products. Products need to be traceable according to the General Food Law. We have developed a module which enables you to easily meet these requirements.” The basic principle of ReflexSystems is that each employee must be able to work with the system on the work floor. “It is therefore extremely user-friendly. It is virtually impossible to make mistakes even for new employees.” The cold storage can be found on the ground floor of the head office at Sea Fresh. Hundreds of fish boxes containing all sorts of fish such as plaice, sole or pike perch are held here. “It’s essential for this company to be able to register each fish”, explains Meenderink as he stands next to the Industrial Terminal Flex 3000.
“The workers save the actual weight of the weighed fish batches in the system using the linked weighing scales. The system creates batches in order to link the required data for the purpose of traceability and cost price calculation. Workers can retrieve this information at any given place in the company. This way they can update stock or print packing slips, labels, barcodes, reports or invoices with just one press of a button.”
Albert Ras, account manager at Sea Fresh, emphasises the importance of the flexibility of the new software system. “The fish trade is a fast-paced environment. If a batch of fresh fish arrives, we will get it to the customer within 24 hours. That makes heavy demands on the stock control. How many do we still have? How many have been ordered? Where does the fish come from and what are the prices? For these can change daily as well. An efficient software system such as ReflexSystems is of vital importance to ensure that we can trade efficiently.” Sea Fresh has high expectations of the new software. “We will be able to work more efficiently”, explains project manager Baarssen. “In addition to this, this system is interesting for future developments. The market is constantly changing and our company responds to these changes.
We have recently expanded our range with live lobster from Canada, which we keep in live tanks. In the years to come, we expect to expand even more. It’s reassuring to know that the automation system from ReflexSystems is prepared for this.”
The automation company Reflex Systems in Almere has many years of experience of automation in the food industry. B&B and Slasoft are the two companies that form the basis of ReflexSystems. At the beginning of the nineties, they were developing hardware and software for the food industry. In 1995, these organisations merged to form B&B Slasoft. In 2007, a decision was made to continue under the name ReflexSystems. Nowadays, there are 55 employees working there. According to Roy Meenderink, the company’s aim is to conquer the European market. A few years ago, branches in Belgium and Poland were opened.