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Low cost meat packing hardware
Farmsoft gives you the freedom to use any low cost hardware with the farmsoft meat packing app.
OLD MEAT PACKING HARDWARE SOLUTIONS
Old meat packing solutions tend to use expensive to purchase proprietary hardware that is often very expensive to install in a meat packing plant, and has excessive ongoing maintenance fees. These older meat packing solution vendors try to upsell you with hundreds of thousands of dollars of meat packing hardware. You don't have to waste precious resources that could be spent elsewhere in your meat packing plant.
Old solutions use outdated redundant and expensive technologies like RS232 networks which are expensive and inflexible, require a lot of expert configuration and maintenance. Old meat packing solutions often run only on Windows terminals which are slow, prone to viruses, and cost too much to purchase and maintain. Old meat packing solutions usually require you to purchase, administer, backup, and maintain your own server (expensive and a waste of your time and money).
Farmsoft offers an alternative, giving you the choice to use any inexpensive and low cost meat packing hardware for any sized meat packing and meat processing plant.
Administration and maintenance of meat packing plant hardware & I.T. infrastructure
Old meat packing solutions: $20,000+ per year
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $0
You don’t need to purchase & administer servers (Windows, MS SQL, anti-virus, backup software) because farmsoft runs in the cloud. Less Windows OS’s that need constant fixing & virus removal. No proprietary equipment with expensive repairs, parts, and maintenance. Less network equipment, complexity, and even less cables means less things go wrong; resulting in massively reduced network administration & maintenance expenses.
It just works.
Terminal for data entry during meat packing process:
Old meat packing solutions: $2000
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $200
Any Android / iOS tablet or phone / PC / Mac (old equipment is also compatible)
RFID reader (read animal RFID tags during slaughter, testing, evisceration, and inspection)
Old meat packing solutions: $3000
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $150
Any USB/wireless RFID reader in sleeve or ruggedized version, any Android RFID reading device
Barcode reader for inventory control of livestock and meat inventory:
Old meat packing solutions: $3000
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $150
Any USB barcode reader (wireless), any Android professional Barcode reading device, any Android phone/tablet.
Scales & printers for weighing livestock and packed meat
Old meat packing solutions: $3000
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $400
Any scale that can dump weight to PC clipboard via USB. Any 300+ dpi printers.
Meat packing plant network & network installation
Old meat packing solutions: $50,000
Modern farmsoft meat packing app: $5000 (or as little as $200 for a small business)
Devices require only Wi-Fi, this cuts the cost of cables, routers, and installation drastically as opposed to running cables to every device.
Low cost meat packing hardware:
INEXPENSIVE MEAT PACKING TERMINALS
All terminal devices must run one of these browsers: Edge, Chrome, Opera, Brave, with 800x1200 min resolution & an always on internet connection of 0.5 M/bit minimum, no data is saved on your device, no app is installed.
PRINTING MEAT LABELS
To print from Android or iOS Install AirPrint etc, or purchase PaperCut (or similar), or the app from printer vendor to print PDF from browser ( 300+DPI required if you print barcodes).
USING YOUR OWN SERVER FOR MEAT PACKING
Don’t do this unless you absolutely must, standard solution runs from our data closest to you (New York, Berlin, or Sydney) and is included in your quote. Please enquire, there is a cost to use your own server (server etc not provided by us: specs: Win Svr2019+, 16GB RAM+, 4 GHz+, MS SQL 2019+). Or you can have an exclusive server in our data center (we administer & provide server, no other company will be using your exclusive infrastructure, available in USA, Canada, European Union, Australia).
READING BARCODES / RFID IN MEAT PACKING
If your device doesn’t have built in reader, for PC/Mac/Android/iOS use a USB or Bluetooth reader that dumps the data into focused field as keyboard text input. For Android, install an app like Barcode & QR code Keyboard or Barcode/NFC/OCR Scanner Keyboard etc that dumps data read into focused field and is activated from virtual keyboard. (None of these apps provided by us).
INEXPENSIVE MEAT PACKING SCALES
Scales must paste current weight to clipboard of the device (ie: the scale emulates keyboard USB transaction of CTRL V of the data). Test your chosen device before you commit.
LOW COST NETWORK FOR MEAT PACKING
You need an I.T. person to setup your network & devices, we can’t setup or advise on any of your hardware or operating systems or drivers or finance app; our advice is that your devices meet the requirements outlined on this page and that you test each device before committing to bulk purchases. Modern devices are wireless, installing multiple wireless mesh networks that have multiple nodes per network where the nodes are connected in daisy chain via CAT cables can be considerably cheaper than traditional wired networks. Cool rooms need a node inside each to allow full coverage. Example inexpensive mesh devices include TP-Link Deco M5* / TP-Link Dexo X20 / TP-Link Deco X68.
Advice from our clients: Buy extra nodes in case one fails and needs replacing (cant mix new models with old). Whitelist *farmsoft.net and *dropbox.com, block all sites that are not (or common trash sties) so devices can only used for farmsoft.
INEXPENSIVE TERMINALS THAT PRINT LOTS OF MEAT LABELS
Printing huge amounts of labels from an Android is not efficient, try using a Windows devices because Windows prints directly to the printer without cloud services slowing the transaction.
LOW COST MEAT PROCESSING & BONING STATION
On stations where printing is infrequent or not required, usually users are generally just looking at the boning spec and selecting “Next” animal from this screen, or doing some simple data entry such as at kill box, head removal, eviscerations etc; a simple android tablet suspended on an arm with splash cover is very inexpensive and effective for these stations. You can use an inexpensive USB RFID and or bar-code reader with your Android device.
INEXPENSIVE VOICE CONTROL MEAT PACKING APP
Activate voice control on your device. With the farmsoft app open, simply shout “Touch Next” to move to the next animal (or “Touch previous” to go back, or “Touch finish” to finish the animal, or “Touch Carton” to print a carton label. Voice control is a feature of your devices operating system and not farmsoft.
Setting benchmarks in meat hardware & processing
As a full-line supplier, our state-of-the-art meat processing apps you can add your chosen hardware to and cover the entire production value chain, from the reception of live animals to the dispatch of finished products.
We work with all processes in the slaughter, cutting and further processing hall as well as case ready and food service packing, all of which can be integrated with the farmsoft meat packing & processing app.
Whatever your location, business size or objectives we can help you to operate at peak productivity and enhance the overall quality and value of meat products. Farmsoft products and solutions help meat processors optimize yield, quality, throughput and other critical factors across the whole value chain.
Ranging from individual units for specific processes such as weighing, cutting and labeling, to complete solutions such as deboning, trimming, meat preparation, portion-cutting and forming lines, our equipment is built for the harsh meat processing environment, with hygiene and safety always in mind.
Question: We use 2 Jarvis Wellsaw 404’s, which are good, but they keep breaking their gear drives, very annoying. Does anyone have suggestions for a good alternative? The Jarvis 444’s are the obvious choice, but they are expensive and over twice the weight. We also have a few sawzalls, but the cutting is not as precise and they aren’t made for wet environments, and short out with regularity.
Answer: I would suggest you call Don at Equipment Distributing of America (402-592-9360). We have his equipment (EFA brand saws) and have used it hard for the last 5 years and it has held up well. If you tell him what you are using the saws for he will get you set up with the right equipment. A tool balancer is a good way to offset the weight of the heavier saws. They will cost you more than a well saw but a cheap saw that does not work isn’t much help.
Question: We are doing some work on our retail establishment program and are wondering about firms that use water activity meters in-house. Is anyone using one, what kind, and are they expensive to purchase or operate?
Answer #1: Check out www.aqualab.com. They are a leader in water activity measuring devices and provide lots of outreach to customers. They are not cheap but I have only found one other company that offers a meter– can’t remember name right off hand. I have been to some of Aqualab training it was very useful.
They have bench top meters and a portable handheld device too.
Answer #2: Decagon Devices/Aqualab (same company) makes a portable one that costs $1500.00-$2,000.00, I think. Get it. Anyone who manufactures a shelf stable meat product should have this as standard equipment because it is a very valuable instrument in the data it provides. Average test time is about 5 minutes and it needs to be calibrated every day that it is used. We use one all the time and have thought about upgrading but the portable model is reliable and easy to use anywhere in the plant. In my opinion it is a very wise purchase/investment.
Question: Just wanting to check in with everyone about fat analyzers for ground beef. Who has experience with these for a smaller scale operation (a couple hundred lbs. of grind a day) and what brands do you prefer and why? Any specific models to stay away from or potential calibration issues? Below is a list of a few units I have researched a little, but feel free to offer up suggestions on these or any other units:
- CEM ProFat Meat Analyzer
- Univex FA-73 Fat Analyzer
- DSC HFT 1000F
Answer #1: We use the Univex. We use it every week. Works fine for our needs. No major complaints. Simple operation and not overly expensive to purchase. Here’s a post I did for our customers. Shows pics of the unit in action. http://johnscustommeats.blogspot.com/2012/01/fat-fun.html
Answer #2: We use the Univex. Super easy and simple. Well built and durable.
Answer #3: I use the Univex FA-73. Sent it back to the company once for repair but no problems since. Very affordable and easy to work and read.
Answer #4: I hate to be the voice of dissent in this conversation but if accuracy is what you are looking for I would not recommend the Univex.
I did a fair amount of research on this a year ago and decided to go with the DSC instead. It cost more but is more accurate in that it actually gives a digital read out of the fat content and is not subject to interpretation like the Univex. I’ve used the Univex already and while it is durable it did not have the accuracy that we were looking for.
The DSC is what we decided to go with and it works well but I’ll be honest that it bugs me that cooking a sample and measuring the grease run off is the popular way to measure fat content.
Plain and simple it is dumb, but until I find a biomedical expert to help me research my idea for a tester, we’ll have to settle for what we have. I know that there are other options like Near Infrared technology but those options are expensive and appear to require a lot of calibration to remain accurate.
Answer #5: We use the Univex FA-73. Works well for our needs. We do 600 lbs. of ground a week. No problems easy to use.
Answer #6: Accuracy point well taken, my biggest issue with these small samplers is just that – small sample size, because:
- If you only have a 1-2 ounce sample for 500+ lbs. of meat, how representative is that 1-2 oz.? It depends on how homogenous your grind is. So regular sampling is important throughout a run.
- If you can only sample finished ground, and not trim, you’re already at your end product stage. It’s hard to add fat back in, and impossible to take it out (without grinding more).
After using a DSC HTF 2000 for a number of years, we found a used Anyl Ray fat sampler for a couple grand. It measures 13 lbs. of trim at a time, non-destructively. We grind 10,000 lbs. in a day, so this was a must for us.
Still, all this said, it is worth keeping things in perspective and not getting too over-the-top on accuracy, especially for very small plants: you can be 20% over on your fat, and be legally compliant with your label. So 90% lean/ 10% fat can really be up to 12% fat, and 85% lean/15% fat can really have up 18% fat, per 9 CFR 317.309(h)(5). And you can be under on your fat as much as you want with no regulatory consequence.
Question: We are considering purchasing a quick swab test kit for spot checking tabletops, work surfaces, machines, etc. as part of our SSOP program. Some read presence of glucose, others read presence of proteins. I would love some feedback – Do you find these kits effective? Useful? Is there one kit type/manufacturer/source that you would recommend? We are flying blind here – would love some input, either positive or negative.
Answer: A lot of people use Charm swabs. Easy to learn, easy to use. http://www.charm.com/en/products/atp-hygiene-swabs.html
ROLLSTOCK Low cost meat packing hardware inexpensive MACHINES
Question: Any of you use a rollstock machine for small batches if you process for multiple farmers? Say you are making sausage for 5 farmers, ~100-200 lbs for each of them, and can run them through the rollstock one after another.
Another way to ask is what’s the minimum batch size for using rollstock, and can you easily segregate product from different farmers?
Everyone likes how rollstock packaging looks, but can a small plant really afford to have/use one?
Also, are there any decision trees or guides out there to help a processor choose the right packaging equipment for a given size/type of business?
Answer #1: Yes we use a rollstock for packaging small batches and multiple farmers. The question of easy segregation is going to depend on the competency of the crew running it.
We use our rollstock every day and every product that we run on it would be considered a small batch. The trick is good communication and some sort of break between batches. We typically leave a whole advance cycle in between the different batches and the tags for each batch are passed down to the end and lined up as the product exits the machine. The multiple options for regulating the machine speed also help to facilitate the smaller batches but for some products it also helps to stage it before it gets to the machine.
I would suspect that most small processors that are running small batches aren’t going to have much in the way of real estate to put most Rollstock machines and the RA-200 from Rollstock, Inc (one of the smaller ones on the market) would be sufficient for the average processor’s needs.
Answer #2: There is no problem doing what you want to do with small batches, all you have to do is take a black marker and make a mark on the edge of last package and then start with the next order. We have had a roll stock for a couple of years now and wouldn’t be without it. You won’t believe the time it saves. We don’t even start to package until we have 6-8 hogs cut because the machine is so fast. It does take some getting used to as you have to adjust your cutting a little and watch for sharp bones but you have to do that with vacuum pouches too.
Answer #3: With us it depends on the whole day production. If we only have 200 lbs. of bulk product (5-6 lbs.) we won’t bother since on our machine being so large we would waste more film then what is required to the packaging. We do a fair amount of slicing bacon for farmers and we just leave a empty package to separate between each.
Answer #4: I liked the answers that have been posted so far, and found them helpful, as we ask ourselves this same question regularly. The answers so far have looked at the question from an operational perspective.
The plant also needs to look at it from a financial perspective. Here is a quick scenario:
Assume the dealer will finance the machine. Say it cost $80,000, no money down, 4 year term, 5% interest then the monthly carry is $1,842. Anyone can download a free amortization schedule and very easily play with this – change price, term, interest rate. But the above is not far-fetched. (It does assume no money down, which may be unlikely!)
Your standard processing fee is what it is, and is unlikely to cover the additional carry. But say you charge $.50/lb to process that sausage. at 200 lbs/week/customer, with 5 customers doing it, that is 5 * 200 * $.5 = $500/week, or $2000 per month. That is enough to pay the monthly carry for the machine. However, some of those charges are needed to cover labor, spices, and rollstock plastic. But you can do other things with the machine, such as pack a number of other cuts (Provided you have the necessary plates). Is the extra speed and packaging quality worth the extra monthly costs? Only if you have enough volume to support it. The packaging quality will definitely attract customers to you, IF there is a robust packing economy in your area. A big if in many parts of the country.
You need to run these scenarios before you pay. Remember, the easiest person to lie to is yourself!
Question: I’m thinking I’m going to need a steam boiler for the small slaughter / processing plant I’m building in west Texas. Does anyone have any wisdom or experience with these things that they would be willing to share? I would like to buy one unit that I can use for cleaning and steam injection into my smokers. Is that possible or even desirable? Can you inject the same steam that you use for cleaning into the smokers?
The plant will be approx. 5,000 sq.ft. with a remote inedible room and I plan to eventually have two single truck smokers. I don’t have any idea what size unit I’ll need.
Will it be practical to run a hose from the plant out to the inedible room… maybe 50 – 75 ft.?
Do you have to add chemicals to the water?
How much trouble are these things to operate and maintain?
Is it better to buy electric or gas?
Answer #1: We bought a small electric boiler to run our sausage peeler- it is a Reimers Electric Boiler. I looked long and hard to find this brand. It was the right price and works very well.
There are some advantages to having a boiler for hot water and for your smokehouses but it is not needed. We have been running a 10,000 sq. foot plant that does about 175 head of beef/bison and makes about 15,000 lbs sausage a week and have never had a boiler. Make sure you check your insurance and workers comp.- live steam can affect your ratings.
Answer #2: From the mechanical stand point you will need to know what your “load” is, i.e. how much steam you need for the task.
For the cleaning side you may want to start with a pressure washer that has a steam cleaner option. They typically use fuel oil in a reservoir that has a burner to make steam. Stay portable so you can use it for multiple tasks.
Steam is “clean” just by its nature (too hot to grow anything), but the delivery system most likely will need to be stainless for food grade. The commercial kitchen manufacturers make steam generators or “boilers” that run kettles, boasters and the like. Hey, may be the avenue to start for your smokers! Gas is always cheaper to buy, maintain and operate than electric.
Answer #3: A good heating guy can size your unit. Electric boilers are great for point of use but I’d do some energy calculations to determine what to put in for hot water. Steam production is going to end up being natural gas at today’s prices except for point of use. About $7 per million btus compared to $30 for electric. Propane was just as high a few months ago but is down closer to $14 per million now. Geothermal electric can be cheaper than gas long term in some situations. especially in a non-demand situation. We get 4.8 cents a kilowatt before demand charges on rural member co-op power. Staying off the demand produces a million btus for about $4. The downfall on geo’s are the upper limit on temps are too low that you still have to finish with gas.
Personally, I’d heat exchange potable water for smoke house steam just because I wouldn’t want the water heating chemicals on my product.
Just a wild guess not knowing at all what you mean by “small” you’ll want at least a 10-15 hp boiler. And personally I’d consider the options carefully. Boilers give up 10-20% over the high efficiency gas hot water heaters. More when you count storage losses compared to a tankless or tankless hybrid like the Eternal.
Answer #4: I installed a gas-fired smoker a few years back and learned a bit from it that may help you. It was an Alkar smoker which held 12 trucks if I remember correctly. It was purchased used and I moved it to another location and installed it.
The main heat source was natural gas and a separate steam system was used to control the humidity during the various stages of the smoke process. I used a small electric steam spa boiler for the steam side to add steam to the cabinet when the recipe called for it. I liked it because it had a small footprint (about the size of a sewing machine) and it only fired off when the smoker called for humidity. I wouldn’t think you need a boiler at all for single truck smokers. I imagine there is more natural gas in west Texas than should be legal so I would use that or tie it into one of those wind turbines out behind the barn.
Bottom line in my opinion is I would contact a smoker manufacturer(s) and tell them what you want to do. I say Alkar only because that was what showed up on the lowboy. They were very helpful when I needed tech help, etc. We had another new two truck unit made by an outfit in Oregon which was very nice but the name slips my mind right now, but Google is your friend.
Answer #5: We process roughly 20/40’ish beef (or equivalent) per week depending on time of year, not including wild game seasons, and run three smoke ovens nearly continuously. We use a tankless gas on demand water heater. I love it. I can set my desired temperature and carry on without a hitch. Our gas bill runs under $900 per year. After cleaning, I crank off the tank for sanitizing. More than serves our needs.
Answer #6: We don’t use steam in our smoke house. We don’t do ready to eat and even if we did I’m not sure we’d produce a product that required steam under appendix a. We built our smoke house. Old fashion poured masonry, insulated, and lined it with stainless steel. We actually heat our smoke house with hickory logs. I don’t do humidity control. I tied the combustion fans into the thermostat so it gravity drafts when the temp is ok and kicks the fire up when it’s calling for heat.
There was a time when you were required to have 180 degrees for slaughter. I’ve not been in the industry long enough to ever see steam be required for cleaning. I’m still convinced its better than all the chemical interventions because of the variables that must be adhered to with bleach, quat, etc.
I think the common cleaning now days is hot enough water to remove the fat and blood and then sanitizers. That’s what we do.
Question: Our local meat processor is able to place the name of the producer, the cut name, weight, etc. on each label. However, the processor says they have no method of reporting the total quantity of each type of cut from each steer so that the producer can have an accurate inventory of what a particular animal yielded. When one of the producers called the label machine manufacturer, he was told there is no labeling machine in existence that can give a cumulative inventory of what it labeled. In other words, for a producer to determine the output of an animal, he/she must handle each package individually and manually create an inventory. It would seem there should be a more efficient, less “hands-on” way of doing this. What do you think?
Answer: You should do the following:
- Find out what type of label system or brand the company works with- i.e. Hobart, Case, Mettler Toledo, Berkel, etc.
- Find the model number of the scale and call the company the services the scale. Try to get a hold of a service technician that works with your processor, as opposed to the sales dept.
- Get the owners manual. Find in the owners manual where it describes how to get the “run totals” for item numbers or PLU’s for the cuts of meats you are interested in. Scales are basically little computers. Computers do what? They collect information.
- Once you have confirmed that the scale is capable of creating this information, offer to pay the service technician to come in and train the processor on how to get the information.
For example, I work with Mettler Toledo Scales. I started out with only the 8461 Deli Scale in my plant. It is capable of providing the information you are seeking. I now use an auto weigh label system, also by Mettler Toledo (the 8361/706 system). This also provides the same information. These are older systems. Unless your processor is using scales from the 1970’s or earlier they should be able to do this. If not, you just might need to ask them to create a hand written report. Offer them $0.05/lb. more to do it. For a 700 lb. carcass that would be $35.00 dollars, which would help cover the processor’s cost of creating the inventory by hand and ensure that the customer gets the information they want.
Question: We are looking for a one-truck pass-through smoker. We are looking at:
- Enviro-Pak: CVU-650E
- Friedrich: FMP1000E
- Vortron: 3800-PG
- MPBS Industries, FlavorCook Model STH-1000E
Which would you recommend? Does anyone have experience with these brands and would recommend one over the other? Any bad experiences? Any sources for used pass-through smokers?
Answer #1: We just bought 3 two truck pass–through houses from Scott and are very happy with them. I would look at Pro Smoker before I did a Vortron and would look at a pellet generator if you are planning on using natural wood smoke. With the new Scott houses we went from a 4 hour smoke/cook cycle to a 1 ½ hour cycle and a much more consistent finished product.
Lad Rudik is the owner of Scott, and you can reach him at lad[at]scottpec.com. Their web address is scottpec.com. I didn’t do much research, I saw them at a trade show and started asking questions. One day, Lad called me and asked if he could stop by, as he would be in the area installing a smokehouse at a small plant in WI. I told him I didn’t have any questions but would like to come with to the install to see how they set up the smokehouse and how smooth the install went. He checked with the plant owner and then invited me to watch the set-up.
It went so well I was sold. The Scott brand would be the next smokehouses we would own. Years ago, I started with a block gravity house. The first micro-processor house we had was a Smith, then an EnviroPak and then a Vortron. I would not say any of them were bad, In fact I have two Vortron 1,000 lb. houses for sale. For us it was the right decision, the speed and consistency of the Scott house is just what we needed.
Answer #2: Donovan Daws is also Scott dealer. 970-692-3905.
Answer #3: I’d just like to add my 2 cents worth on the endorsement of Scott smokehouses. We added a Scott 1,000 lb. single truck smokehouse to our operation about a year ago and are extremely happy with it. The smoke production is fantastic. It puts out product in much less time and produces a superior product. We also run an Alkar 750. The Alkar is a good smokehouse but it doesn’t compare to the Scott.
Question: We are putting meat rails in our processing facility — we do not do any slaughter. We receive 1/4 steer, 1/2 hog, and whole lamb & goats. We have found USDA guidelines for slaughter facilities saying that the top of the rail must be 9′ away from the highest point on the ground for headless hog. This seems quite high for our cut & wrap facility.
Answer #1: You should keep the carcass at least 1 ft. from the floor. So measure the carcass you are processing then determine what hook size you are going to use, do the math and you will know how high the top of rail will need to be. We do full sides of beef and our top of rail is 11 ft. Here are two companies that design and make rail systems that can help you: Hantover and Bowlin Manufacturing.
Answer #2: In my plant inside the cooler the top of my rails are at 7.5 ft. I wouldn’t go any lower than that. 7.5 ft to 8 ft should work fine for what your doing. It is exactly how I have carcasses hanging in my plant. At 7.5 ft., bigger hogs or longer hogs become an issue with touching the ground. Over 8 ft and generally nobody is going to be able to grab the hooks off the rail once you have broken down the carcass that your working on.
Answer #3: 9 feet sounds right. Once you hang the hog from it’s back legs and it spreads down it will be 7 feet plus.
Answer #4: I believe what you have read are what you stated…”guidelines”. USDA won’t tell you how it HAS to be, just as long as you can prevent contamination of the product.
Answer #5: I wouldn’t go under 9′. Just my advice. If you go lower and you end up with hogs with any size on them, you’ll be creeping a little too close for comfort on the floor. Our rails are 11.5′ but we hang full sides. I have a few hogs in here now that are easily pushing 6′ long hanging and that doesn’t include the roller or hook. I’d plan for worse case scenario. Measure rollers, hooks, gambrels, etc.. add to 12″ safety zone from floor, factor in high end length of carcasses, and you’ll have your needed height.
Question: What type of printing scale would work well for a custom, retail use? What software is compatible with the whole system?
Answer #1: I’ve been researching this same issue. Found several software products that have lots of capabilities but are very pricey. $20 to $30k. Seems that if you are able and willing to do some of your own programming you can save considerable dollars. But that takes time so we each have to make a business decision on how much value the software adds to the bottom line. I think most printers can be customized for whatever labels you need.
Answer #2: I attended a really good workshop at the 2013 New England Meat Conference where scales, inventory reports and invoicing were being discussed. Several people seemed to be working on some solutions. After the workshop I spoke with a really helpful processor who recommended the Torrey LSQ-40L scale for printing out labels that had the correct sized font for USDA recommendations.
In August, my backup scale for my poultry processing facility failed and I bought a Torrey LSQ-40L. I really wish I could find the woman who recommended it so she could help me with it. I have finally found the right labels, I think, but I have yet to be successful with printing them. The next step is to tackle transferring the info on the scale into a database. I think that will be a big learning curve and I think I even need to buy something that is an intermediate piece of technology between the scale and the computer. I’m not sure.
Answer #3: I use Mettler Toledo scales in my plant. They have a very reasonable price software program that you can pick up as well and can network all the scales to your desk for price changes, etc. There are many great options out there. If your on a budget like most of us this is great option. I would describe the system as 80% of what I really would like to have at my plant. It isn’t perfect but it is well below the cost of many of the systems that are out there.
Answer #4: We have Ishidas. They work much better than the CAS machines we had. Just like people have recommended to buy refrigeration through someone that will work with you, I’d recommend the same thing for a label machine. Those hours in the office on the network computer with the IT person trying to communicate with label machines to get labels printed so you can load a truck are very frustrating. And we process two shifts and ours always seemed to fail at a time the service tech wouldn’t answer his phone. And remember, USDA takes labeling issues very serious. It’s the largest reason for recalls.
Answer #5: We use a CAS CL5000 and it comes with a pc based program “CLworks” to keep prices updated. It provides barcoding for POS and I can keep multiple customer’s price lists stored in it. We purchased it without the Ethernet option which I would rethink if I were to purchase again but the rs232 connection is sufficient for our needs. Overall it is a reliable scale and the ability to connect with a computer makes a worthwhile investment.
I haven’t looked into printing inspection information on it since we only use it for weight and pricing purposes, the USDA required information is printed using Labelview software. Labelview doesn’t have the capabilities to connect with a scale but I know that the upgraded version of the software “Codesoft” is able to do it and based on my knowledge of Labelview it is something we may look into down the road.