SK Food Enterprises Ltd.’Order Instructions:
SK Food Enterprises Ltd.’
This assignment will provide you with an opportunity to apply some of the skills and knowledge that have gained across the module thus far, demonstrating your learning through a practical exercise.
Please read the attached case study ‘SK Food Enterprises Ltd.’ carefully, and answer the questions that follow in a 2500 word report. To answer the questions you will need to apply Operations Management tools and complete some calculations using a spreadsheet.
You should not present theoretical discussions of Operations Management; do not give an explanation of the ‘5 performance objectives’ for example.
The assignment is looking for the application of Operations Management. You should use your Operations Management texts to help you with the assignment however, the nature of the assignment means referencing will not be required.
The core of the assignment (sections 3 & 4) focusses on calculating capacities/assessing utilisation of a series of processes. It is not sufficient to present only numerical data in your answers. You must clearly discuss each stage of your analysis, stating ‘what’ you need to find out and ‘why’, and then present the supporting calculations. Marks will be awarded for clear indications that you have understood the logical steps needed to calculate capacity for this particular operation.
For all of the questions, most of the information required can be found in the case study however, you will need to make some assumptions; please state these clearly along with your supporting rationale.
Note: this is an individual assignment. You may obviously discuss aspects of the case study with your peers however, the work you produce for the assignment must be entirely your own.
Any evidence of collusion with other students will be treated as Academic Misconduct and dealt with according to University procedures.
Case Study: ‘SK Food Enterprises Ltd.’
SK Food Enterprises Ltd. is a company specialising in vegetable growing and distribution. Its most important customer group is the major UK
supermarkets which require fresh produce to be delivered to them 364 days a year.
The company has all the staff, expertise and specialised facilities needed to supply these supermarkets throughout the year. One of the most important vegetable products of this company is radicchio (a leaf chicory also known as Italian chicory), which is grown in England during the summer and on the European continent in the remainder of the year.
Radicchio are dense and round, but are easily bruised so have to be harvested with great care, after which they are stored and transported in chilled conditions to avoid deterioration.
From the time of cutting, they must be packed quickly to minimise water loss and taken rapidly to a cool store. Market demand varies greatly, dependent on the season and on weather conditions, with demand rising rapidly in periods of hot, dry weather and in the preceding day. Supermarkets rely on weather forecasts to
predict demand for salads and fresh sandwiches.
Radicchio (Italian chicory):
The harvesting rigs
The company has developed specialised machinery to assist in the harvest of millions of radicchio every year. Each of the company’s six radicchio picking machines (known as ‘rigs’) is a large mobile factory which is mechanically powered to move very slowly across the enormous radicchio fields, at a speed and direction controlled by the supervisor using a simple joystick control.
The rig runs on caterpillar tracks, allowing it to cross the soft, deep peaty soils on which radicchio thrive. However, in very wet conditions, this very heavy piece of equipment can get stuck and may need assistance from an additional crawler tractor.
At the very back of the rig is attached an open fronted road trailer, into which the trays of packed radicchio are carried and stacked. This trailer can
be released when full, and attached to a four-wheel drive tractor for subsequent transportation to the company’s local cold store. Another trailer is then connected in its place to allow picking to continue uninterrupted.
Each crew (picking team) comprises 17 people and a supervisor; there are nine cutters, five packers and three people preparing cardboard trays, labelling the individual supermarket radicchio and carrying completed trays and crates to the trailers. The supervisor, who is fully responsible for product quality and output of the rig, also provides assistance at any point on the rig to relieve any
short-term bottleneck and to cover any short period when an operative needs to leave the rig.
The crew members are paid piecework, and usually work eight-hour days (plus breaks), although overtime may be necessary on very busy days in mid-season.
Crew members of the most successful teams can earn more than double the UK hourly minimum wage, but this requires sustained effort and concentration, and cooperative crew behaviour.
The picking process
The nine cutters work on the ground in a wide line just in front of the rig, which slowly moves towards them. They stand astride the rows of radicchio, working slowly backwards. The average cutting speed per person, in good conditions, is eight seconds per radicchio. Within this cycle time the picker selects and cuts each radicchio using a sharp, slightly hooked knife, trims away the outer leaves (which are often muddy and/or damaged), and the drops the prepared radicchio into a polythene bag pulled from a bundle attached to the cutter’s waist belt.
The cutter can choose to leave uncut any radicchio exhibiting defects, for example, under-size, poor shape or damaged, and these are later ploughed back into the soil. They are also very skilled at judging radicchio weights, and will avoid under- or over-sized specimens. The best-quality wrapped radicchio are then thrown carefully forward to a packer.
Others are thrown further forward straight into plastic crates of 20 for subsequent industrial processing, depending on quality. These are known as ‘process grade’ and are used to make prepared salads and bulk chopped radicchio for the sandwich industry. In persistently wet weather, the average picking rate can slow by up to 25 per cent, as a result of a combination of mud slowing the picking and packing process, rigs getting stuck and a general deterioration in morale of the crew.
The five packers sit on seats attached to the front of the rig, in front of the pickers and just off the ground. They seal the bags with tape, and place the radicchio in a single layer in cardboard trays, selecting (grading) them – the best quality for the supermarkets in trays of 10, the remainder for wholesale markets in trays of 12. On average, this task takes five seconds per radicchio. The full trays are then quickly pushed forward to the final group of employees who work further back on the rig, higher up and level with the trailer floor.
These three workers have several tasks. Firstly, they have to erect the cardboard trays from flat ‘cut and creased’ blanks which the company buys in from an outside supplier of cardboard packaging. This tray preparation entails a folding and tucking action, and one skilled worker can make and stack the trays in an average of about seven seconds each. Typically, half of this person’s time is spent on this activity, and the remaining time on labelling.
The next task is to label all the supermarket radicchio. Self-adhesive labels are provided on a long roll, and are simply peeled off and stuck on each radicchio bag. These labels customise the radicchio for individual supermarkets and also provide the bar code and sell-by/use-by dates. Although they have to be positioned carefully with minimal creasing, a skilled worker can apply a label about every two seconds. On completion, each tray is then pushed forward, ready for conveyance to the trailer by another worker.
Each filled tray or crate has to be carried from the deck of the rig into the transport trailer, where it is stacked. Although the walking time for this action depends on the extent to which the trailer has been filled. An average time is approximately 15 seconds, which includes the time needed to return for the next tray or crate. This is the heaviest task, so the three workers rotate the jobs on the upper level of the rig. The supervisor is based here too – weighing equipment and quality records are kept at the back of the rig – so is able to assist with these jobs when needed.
Trailers are changed approximately every two hours, but this does not stop the operation of the picking, packing or labelling part of the rig. Two workers are needed to uncouple the trailer and reconnect the empty replacement. This takes approximately 10 minutes.
On average, during a normal working period, each worker uses about five per cent of the time for personal needs and for occasional activities; such as collecting packaging material. Breakdown time averages approximately two per cent of the available time, and this is usually used for cleaning and preparation.
Although the supervisor is able to assist others when the need arises, he or she spends about two hours a day on quality assurance. Statistical process control (SPC) is used to ensure that radicchio weight is within the requirements of each customer, and samples are inspected to ensure that their appearance remains within tolerance. Records of quality and output are maintained per rig.
During a busy period of sustained good weather in August, the average daily (eight hours) output from each rig was as follows:
Supermarket – 1800 trays
Wholesale – 230 trays
Process – 200 trays
Section 1 – (5%)
Describe the inputs and outputs of the transformation process outlined in this case, supported by an appropriate diagram.
Section 2 – (10%)
Describe the five operations performance objectives for the macro-operation (Quality, speed, dependability etc.).
Section 3 – (50%)
Calculate and discuss the capacities for each micro-operation of the radicchio rig, and from this estimate the total capacity. Discuss to what extent the overall capacity depends on the product mix. Discuss what problems are encountered when attempting these capacity calculations.
Your calculations should be completed in a spreadsheet and screenshots included in the main body of your report; additionally, your appendices should include screenshots of the formula view of the spreadsheet.
(Note: students who submit data of a spurious nature will later be required to forward an electronic copy of their actual spreadsheet).
Section 4 – (20%)
How well balanced are the capacities, and what could adversely affect this balance? (Present further calculations to support a scenario).
Section 5 – (5%)
Using your data to compare actual output to the capacity, what does this suggest about the operations management tasks involved in running all six rigs?
Section 6 – (10%)
In a typical British summer, the weather can cycle frequently between cool, dull periods with spells of heavy rainfall, and periods of hot, dry and sunny weather.
What capacity management problems could arise during such variations in the weather, and how can management best respond to such fluctuations?
MN-M532 (2015/16) – Assignment Brief Supporting Notes
If after reading these supporting notes you still have questions, please use the first four seminars to ask me or alternatively, visit me (during my office hours ONLY – Tuesdays 1230-130pm or Thursdays 1030-1130am) for guidance.
Your first task is really to understand what precisely happens in the operation as a whole (the macro-operation) and then in the individual sub processes (the micro-operations).
To do this you will need to read the case study carefully and make your own notes as you go along; the information in the case study is a narrative and naturally it is not presented in a convenient way for you to conduct your analysis. Therefore, you will need to sketch diagrams/make notes and begin that process of understanding by restructuring the data to suit your task.
With most tasks on this module, diagrams are extremely helpful to promote understanding – processes need to be visualised and text in a case study limits visualisation.
When it comes to deriving your own numerical data from a series of calculations, this is best achieved through a spreadsheet. This will allow you conduct some basic scenario analysis quite easily and also provide you with the means you construct data tables to insert in your report.
Writing the report:
Remember you are not writing an essay but a report. Your style and tone of writing should therefore be concise and professional. As it is a very short report with diverse sections, there is no need to follow a typical report format with regard to the structure. Simply present 6 different sections with sub-sections as you deem appropriate. You should also include appendices, consisting of the spreadsheet screen-shots (formula views only). Tables of data from the spreadsheet need to be included in sections 3 and 4.
Cautionary Note: During the marking process, if I encounter spurious figures in your spread-sheet screen-shots which are not consistent with the model answer, then you will be requested to email me a copy of your spread-sheet before your final mark is determined.
Marks will be awarded in relation to the generic marking scheme (see the PG course handbook) and general marking points outlined in the module handbook.
In total, this assignment will constitute 30% of your overall mark for this module (5% for the plan and 25% for the final report).
Ensure that the presentation and layout of your report is exemplary in all aspects. The ability to produce a professional document both in appearance and content is a key skill for School of Management graduates. Reports which have poor standards in aspects of presentation have an adverse impact on perceived professionalism and credibility and will lose marks.
Some key points:
• Ensure the document has been checked for spelling and typographical errors – this includes appendices and diagram/chart labels.
• Proof-read your report thoroughly and have someone else do the same – for example, if you type ‘moths’ when you meant ‘months’, the spell-checker will obviously NOT recognise the error.
• All text should be justified (Ctrl + J).
• Diagrams, charts and tables should be clearly and appropriately labelled; all diagram axes must be labelled. References to diagrams etc. in other parts of the report, including the appendices must be precise: ‘See Figure 4., on page 17’, ‘Refer to chart 11, appendix iv, page 56’, ‘ See table overleaf’, etc.
• Remember, a key objective of any report is to facilitate, both the reader’s understanding of the content and also the ease in which this can be achieved; presentation, therefore is a vital consideration.
• A professional layout and presentation (marks will be lost for poor quality).
Suggested plan structure:
The report plan should consist of a ONE page outline of what you intend to cover for each of the questions.
The focus should be on questions 3 and 4, with minor notes for the other questions.
It should not provide any results/calculations for questions 3 and 4 but should clearly indicate in DETAIL how your intended investigation will proceed – ‘what’ you intend to analyse and ‘why’.
In order to do this successfully you must have understood the material and already decided on what you will investigate and precisely how you will conduct your analysis – this is what I need to see detailed in your plan and the success of this section will largely determine your grade for the plan.
A successful plan can only be achieved by completing all of your initial analysis of the processes.
IMPORTANT: the plan constitutes 1/6 of your assignment grade – do not pursue it lightly.
Release Date: Friday 5th February 2016.
Plan Submission Date: Monday March 14th 2016 by 3pm.
Plan Feedback Date: Monday March 21st 2016.
Report Submission Date: Monday April 25th 2016 by 3pm.
Results Date: Marks and feedback for the report will be available to you electronically within 3 calendar weeks of submission. Generic feedback on the assignment will also be posted on Blackboard.
Submission process: electronic submission via Blackboard. Please read the submission instructions detailed on the site and in the module handbook and contact the Student Hub if you need any clarification.
If you have genuine extenuating circumstances, then ensure that you familiarise yourself with the updated rules:
Consideration will not be made for students that may have extenuating circumstances but have not adhered to the regulations.