Major potato packer introduces integrated ERP automation to increase capacity & flexibility

OAL has helped one of the largest UK potato packers to automate their processes including full ERP integration to increase capacity by 30% and enable more bagging flexibility. The system includes label and date code verification (Autocoding) and full traceability to meet consumer and retailer demand.

Originally posted on our main website here


A well-established supplier of UK and imported potato and vegetable products to leading retail, wholesale and food service customers.


The potato packer embarked on a major redevelopment at their site to increase capacity and provide greater production flexibility.

As part of the project, they wanted an automation partner to improve the control and reporting systems which support the process, packaging, data security and production effectiveness.


Following a review of suppliers, the potato packer chose OAL after successful reference visits to sites already running OAL’s proven Autocoding system and the appreciation of the extended automation capabilities available.

Combining OAL's proven OAL Connected modules with bespoke ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) integration and automation services has brought value to the potato business by securing brand, product and packaging at all stages of the production process helping them to:

  • Comply with retailer's codes of practice

  • Establish full product traceability

  • Improve overall equipment efficiency

Technical solution

OAL installed an SQL database to hold all product definitions which is linked up to their ERP system, line scanners, printers and checkweighers. Operators can then control the line from a line specific master console or, for further flexibility from a mimic screen. Key features of the OAL automation solution include:

Direct link to ERP

Linking their ERP system to the software has given the manufacturer the ability to validate their ingredients and raw materials against the ERP database before production to ensure the right ingredients and the correct amount is added to the recipe.

Paperless quality assurance checks

The OAL Connected system features paperless QA checks and traceability. The potato packer can now make unlimited, automatic QA checks on their products using handheld scanners at any point during the processing without risk of inaccuracy caused by human error and loss/lack of paperwork. These automatic checks help optimise productivity, quality and operator decision making. It’s also very helpful for providing a full audit trail for retailers.

Label and date code verification (Autocoding)

How OAL Autocoding work? - click to expand

How OAL Autocoding work? - click to expand

OAL Autocoding ensures compliance with retailer's codes of practice around the control of label and date codes. The OAL system controls ICE printers on the packaging line and scans every product to ensure correct label and date coding has been applied.

When a product passes through the line, the 2D barcode is scanned. The information collected is compared to the information inputted into the SQL database by operation managers pre-production. If a mismatch error occurs then alarms sound, production stops and cannot recommence without managerial investigation.

At first, OAL manipulated the system to scan their current 1D barcodes until the potato packer introduced their 2D coded new packaging to ensure a more reliable read.

The process is explained in the diagram opposite.

Checkweighers giveaway reporting

As most potato products are sold by fixed weight, the OAL system links directly to their checkweighers to provide a real-time giveaway percentage on the touch screen and to record those values by product run. This information can help increase yield and decrease wastage as well as promote a ‘continuous improvement’ work culture.

OEE factory performance data


The real-time, accurate data collected from the label and date code verification system, checkweighers and QA checks allows operators to make more rational decisions as soon as issues arise. They are now able to plan their production schedule and downtime to increase production capacity and improve their overall equipment efficiency.


OAL Connected has provided the potato packer the tools to continuously improve. Operators now have full control and sight of their factory performance. This enables them to make quick decisions based on accurate, real-time information that is then automatically reported back to them. This has resulted in a decrease in unplanned stoppage and an increase in productivity and yield.


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Jake Norman