Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

August 17, 2013

Livingston Co. company's system tracks produce

HOWELL (AP) — A Livingston County company’s work has made it safer for you to bite into that apple or enjoy that salad for lunch.

ToolWorx Information Products Inc. recently was awarded a patent for its SmartVision system, which is used to keep track of fresh produce from the field to store shelves across the nation.

“You don’t hear about them, but recalls are happening every day, all the time,” Ed Weber, co-owner of ToolWorx, north of Brighton, told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus ( http://bit.ly/16XlDma ). “The ones that make the news are the really bad ones where you have a lot of people dying and getting sick.”

The SmartVision system uses a camera and a smart printer made by Washington state-based Intermec Inc. to label boxes of produce from the moment they are picked in the field.

“Our applications are really involved more in lot traceability and error-proofing,” Weber said. “You want to make sure that the right information is on that label, on that container. Our focus is basically to help companies minimize the scope of a recall, if there is one.”

Weber and Brad Oyster have owned ToolWorx since 1999, two years after it was founded.

The company writes software primarily designed for labeling in the produce industry and for other manufacturing and packaging companies.

“I would say 50 percent of our clients are in the food industry,” said Weber, adding that the company has about 450 clients and annual sales in the “$2 million to $5 million range.”

Weber said ToolWorx saw an opportunity in 2009 when the Produce Traceability Initiative was formed by groups in the produce industry. He was part of a work group that studied the issue.

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