VirtualOne, a Plant City, Fla.-based traceability company, has filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a traceability marking system it expects to complete by summer.

VirtualOne files for patent on case-level labeling system

Using lasers and robotics, the device labels packages with a bar code and text to comply with the Produce Traceability Initiative.

The machine also works in coolers and in other moisture-filled harsh environments, said VirtualOne owner Gary Wishnatzki, who is also president and chief executive officer of Wishnatzki Farms, Plant City.

Wishnatzki said the print and apply issue is something the produce industry has been wrestling with on how to properly affix labels without having bottlenecks in cooling facilities.

“The PTI leaves a lot of room for interpretation,” he said. “I saw that as a big problem because different chain stores may come up with their own versions of what they want their labels to look like. Trying to satisfy multiple customer demands may be difficult if you’re trying to put labels on at a receiving point versus some point later before the case ships. There’s no way to accommodate everybody and this may help solve that potential problem.”

In the test phase, the new technology, which is scheduled to be beta tested early this summer in Plant City, takes less than a second to mark each box, Wishnatzki said.

VirtualOne uses Macsa lasers from Fort Worth, Texas-based ID Technology.

Wishnatzki said VirtualOne might partner with other companies and said the system has other potential uses, including labeling cases of other perishable grocery items.

VirtualOne also markets FreshQC, a quality control system that can trace individual containers of berries to the field and to the worker that harvested them.