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Vegetable Processor Uses IP Video To Comply With Bio-Terrorism Act

 At Chase Farms in Walkerville, Mich., IP video software will manage more than 100 surveillance cameras by this spring. Last fall, more than 60 Axis 223 M (2-megapixel) cameras were already running at the full 1,600 image size.

Chase Farms is leading the way in new technology for processing vegetables and fruits. The Bio-Terrorism Act that followed 9/11 demanded strict adherence to traceability standards for food products. Machinery operations, forklifts, truck deliveries and pickups add to the need for close monitoring of the large, widespread facilities. More than 300 employees are hired seasonally in addition to 60 full-time staff, who work in multiple buildings of tremendous size and varying temperatures.

An analog DVR system was put in two years ago, but once Chase Farms recently began converting the analog system to a Milestone XProtect Enterprise IP videosystem.  All the camera images are now shown on large flat-panel monitors mounted on the managers’ walls. ROK Systems Inc., the Certified Milestone Partner implementing the solution, chose standard Dell servers with HP network routers and switches for the IT infrastructure. They have also integrated the surveillance with time/attendance and access control systems.

Chase Farms’ managers report overview, optimal quality control for meeting industry requirements and customer satisfaction that is greatly increased with clear video surveillance images of the entire complex. Production status is immediately visible, and the video is easy to share. Employee safety issues and injury claims are also monitored and quickly resolved, as are any questions on shipments.
“We have to know exactly where each bean or cherry has come from, how it's handled, where it goes, and when; we are monitored by the FDA, MDA, and the USDA. It reflects on your company when you take measures to be more compliant. Even our long-valued customers love to receive the video clips that let them see the exact status on their orders anytime they ask for it,” said Brett Chase, vice president at Chase Farms.

The agencies visit regularly to grade the food quality on its levels of compliance. Customers check these grades to use as a competitive parameter, so this area of the business directly affects the bottom line. The Milestone-Axis IP video surveillance system helps Chase Farms immensely, providing visible proof of compliance.

Chase Farms is the biggest vegetable processor in the state and one of the largest in the Eastern U.S. Around 25,000 acres of farm produce are devoted to the company’s contractual growing needs per year. The company process cherries, asparagus, carrots and beans, continually adding more products with the necessary equipment and facilities, including multiple freezer structures totaling 8.8 million cubic feet of capacity. In 2007, Chase Farms processed more than100 million pounds of finished products.

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