November 02, 2008

Operations Management Lesson 2 Exercise

Take two processes with different volume and variety characteristics. Profile these processes and establish the process choice and layout decisions they have taken. Critically appraise the design decisions taken.

We are going to describe two process, first of all is a process booking and packing service of school books in a very well known big shopping company in Spain, called El Corte Ingles. 

Box Book

The second is the process  of a modern bakery dedicated to manufacture of frozen dough.


Processes Profile

We are going to see its profiles following the ‘four Vs’ model from Slack et al. With the following result for each of them:

Booking of School Books process:

    • Volume: This process has a very peak volume at the start of the academic year, because is a temporal service. For this reasons is difficult to the systematisation of the activities, both in the store and in the warehouse, nonetheless the process in the warehouse could be reach high degree of automatic with the use of techniques used for others types of products, through robots can increase the effectiveness of picking process.  This factor is medium.

    • Variety: This aspect offers several possibilities because there are a lot of schools, years and families, then the configuration of the pack could variate a lot but under bounds. This factor is high or medium high.

      • Variation of demand:As we have commented before, this process is temporal depending of the start date of the academic year but it also depends on the consumer level, because that kind of service is more expensive than buy the books separate. This factor is medium-high.

      • Visibility: Part of the process is in front of the customer because in the step of take requirements, sale and delivery should be with interaction of them. Another part of the process is in the warehouse and there is a low level of visibility. Medium-low.

      Manufacture of Frozen Dough process:

        • Volume: This is a high volume process, thus it allows to systematisation of the activities needed to perform it. 

          • Variety: This factor is low because the types of product elaborated are very well defined, only with when a new product is launched the process can suffer a little modification.

          • Variation of demand:In this case the demand of this kind of products are very constant for captive customers, and only can change when there are expansions plans. This factor is medium-low.

          • Visibility: All this process are done without visibility of the customers. Low level.

          The following figure shows the profile of both processes:


          Processes Design

          To evaluate the design of these two processes we can consider the Volume-Variety requirements, Process Types and Process Layouts aspects.

          Booking of School Books process:

            • Volume-Variety requirements:As we have seen are medium requirements of volume and medium-high of variety. But this relation could change due to the variety depends of the volume.

            • Process Types:the natural type is the “service shop” but as it is a mix between services and products in the warehouse process the type is “batch” or “jobbing” due to dificulty of picking process.

            • Process Layouts:The part of the process related with the service is “functional” layout, and the part related with the warehouse could be “cell”.

            Manufacture of Frozen Dough process:

              • Volume-Variety requirements:In this case there are high degree of volume and low of variety and we could move thru the ‘Natural’ line of fit of the ‘product-process’ matrix.

                • Process Types:its type is clearly “continuous” because is a process very easy and with high volume.

                • Process Layouts:In this case the type of layout is also quite clear because is a classic manufacture type hence is Product layout.

                The following figure tries to summarised what have been exposed above:



                Walley, P. (2008)  Operations Management Study Notes, Warwick Business School

                Slack, N. et al. (2006) Operations and process management, FT Prentice Hall, London

                El Corte Ingles. 


                Corporative web site:

                Commercial web site:

                Bakery Sector

                Berlys S.A. web site:

                BIMBO S.A. web site:

                SARA LEE BAKERY INC. web site.

                - One comment Not publicly viewable

                1. Desmond Yarham

                  Hi Luis, certainly very different process choices, it was interesting to see how they compared. Your 4 V’s diagram was clearly illustrated and demonstrated large differences in 3 of the V’s. Your description of processes / layouts was fine. A very good diagram of ‘line of fit’ and the positions accupied by your selected operations – good work. Comprehensive referencing.

                  05 Nov 2008, 10:45

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