To make it easier for fruit and vegetable producers to manage their seasonal workers, Consus Fresh Solutions has developed a new Facial Recognition feature for its traceability software. Machine learning is used to identify staff and permit access, making clocking on and off a thing of the past and improving allocation of tasks and accountability.
The system compares the photograph in the human resources (HR) database with that of the person trying to enter the packhouse. If recognised, the worker is allowed access and can be given a task, which is then logged on the system.
Consus has developed an intelligent software-based system that reduces the burden of audits and improves productivity. By linking HR records to labour deployment the facial recognition module enables accurate costing of all products and improved traceability.
Derek Thompson, co-founder of Consus Fresh, has experience of managing a large packhouse: “Accurate time and attendance records are vital in a packhouse. In peak season you will have an influx of temporary staff. It is not unknown for staff to clock each other into work or not to turn up at all after the first day.
“Additionally if there is a product recall further up in the chain you may need to be able to identify exactly who was working on a specific product line on a particular day if later audited by a customer.
“The facial recognition system works with the procedures that a packhouse will already have in place but instead of RFID tags it uses a camera to identify the staff. Details are recorded electronically and updates or amendments made remotely.″
Craig Bargery, Packhouse Production Manager at Pollybell Organic Farm in the east Midlands, comments that he is looking forward to being the first to deploy the system in the New Year.
The Consus system is built on the Microsoft Azure platform, which supports AI applications.
Dr Matthew Smith, Director of Business Development at Microsoft research, says: “Consus is meeting a growing need by organisations to harness technologies in order to improve supply chain efficiencies, response times, waste reduction and branding. It's particularly exciting to see how they're utilising more advanced analytical capabilities such as face recognition to make the harnessing of the necessary information itself more efficient and effective.″
The Consus team has developed the facial recognition so that it needs no training to identify people; it is also consistent with BRC and reports can be generated to meet the varying needs of auditors and retailers.
Consus sees potential for increasing the level of support to producers and demonstrated two new modules for the product – Facial Recognition for improved workforce management and Shelf-life Prediction – in November at Agri-Tech East's REAP conference and at The CropTec Show.