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Scales: Tim Haynes, retail division manager, and Amy Okuley, marketing manager at METTLER TOLEDO, discuss how today's fresh food department scales are so much more than simple weighing devices.

Every store uses scales with printers in their perishable departments, so why do retailers need to worry about what a scale can do other than give accurate weight and print a price label?

Tim Haynes and Amy Okuley: What's happening is that retailers are demanding more sophisticated technology, in the fresh areas of their store. The scale is becoming more of an industrial network PC with accessories attached to it. Retailers like the idea of putting a POS terminal in convenient locations to perform specific applications that focus on the Heeds of the fresh food categories.

So what you are saying is that the scale is really becoming a part of the store's IT infrastructure?

Exactly. We have found that retailers are looking for more connectivity in their stores to be able to better manage the data they have and their inventory levels. Every day, retailers are asked to put more information on the label and to manage all the data sources involved. When the scales are connected to the store's systems it makes managing data easier and more accurate. The easier we Call make the data flow into the scale from the store's other systems, the easier it is to handle the logistics of getting the right information onto the label. When we can focus on getting data from the scales back into the appropriate databases. The key to connectivity is in making sure flint every system has the right data in the right place at the right time.

OK, so the scales are really becoming PCs. How do retailers use a PC in the fresh food areas of the store?

The products that we have available today basically run on an operating system that you can load with other applications, or connect to Internet-based applications. The sky is really the limit for how retailers decide to use the scale information--how about recipe management in the bakery and deli areas or cutting tests in the meat department METTLER TOLEDO is developing fresh product solutions that incorporate scale hardware as one piece of an entire supply chain and inventory management solution.

With retailers trying to give shoppers so much information on random weight dell, meat, seafood and even produce packages these days, how can the printers keep up?

The hardware has very flexible label printing capabilities. Because the scales are becoming PCs, these printers earl be used in conjunction with graphics programs and can easily produce wonderful images consistent with store branding efforts. There are a lot of retailers that put cooking instructions or nutritional information on the label as part of their merchandising effort. This gives the shoppers valuable information so they can make good purchase decisions and prepare the product at home. It is easy for the hardware to retrieve the proper information and put on the labels to help support a Quick Meals program.

In essence, the labels are custom printed at any point. Retailers can print enough for every package, or for only certain packages, or for just one package. There's a high degree of flexibility that can be pre-programmed tide the units and managed from a host or a headquarters' perspective. It ensures consistency in getting the information on the package that the retailer wants to help support its overall merchandising program.

The Sunrise 2005 initiative and other pending barcode technologies will impact today's system of bar coding. How will the technology of random weight scales in the perishables departments keep up?

One of the technology trends that we're incorporating is Reduced Space Symbology (RSS), the new bar code standard that allows for more information to be encoded within the bar code. While the Sunrise 2005 initiative does not necessarily impact bar codes printed at the store level, industry experts are recommending that as retailers make sure their scanners are ready for Sunrise 2005, they should probably upgrade other store systems to the new RSS technology. For our products, it means being able to incorporate various data elements into a barcode format in older to facilitate information flow. Expiration dates or hot numbers can be printed and captured to prevent a customer from buying something that's out of date.
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Title Annotation:Advertorial
Author:Haynes, Tim; Okuley, Amy
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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