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.

Output statistics

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
Write 250 words plan

Question and Requirement:
Report Plan

General overview/expectation: The general expectation is that the report plan should convey in detail, your intended analysis (particularly for section 3). It is suggested you outline the contents of each section with a few sentences (more for section 3), explaining what you have decided to analyse, why, and how this will be conducted; clearly explain your rationale. Again, this is mainly applicable to section 3.

Sections 1,2,5 and 6 will require more general notes. Section 4, to some extent will be difficult to plan as it requires results to be determined from section 3. Example plans and some related study notes are available on Blackboard.

Format/Layout: The length should not exceed one A4 side of paper; submissions of more than page will not be marked. Standard line spacing and margins should be followed. Font should be 12 pt., Times New Roman. References – include where possible though it is appreciated you may not have concluded your research at this stage. You may use either prose (under paragraph headings) or bullet points however, these must be detailed in nature.

Marking criteria: marks will be awarded on the basis of detail. Basic bullet points are unlikely to provide sufficient detail as to what you are planning to write about in your report. The plan should also clearly convey the general thread of your argument and how this will be developed through the paragraphs. A numerical score will be assigned, 50% being the pass mark.

Feedback: your grade and some evaluative comments will be provided via Grademark, one week after the submission date. If you require additional advice please come and see me during my weekly office hours.

Coursework Brief

The 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 case study ‘SK Food Enterprises Ltd.’ carefully, and answer the questions that follow in a 2,500 word report.

The case study can be found on Blackboard, the questions are reproduced below. 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.


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?

Key Marking criteria will include (where appropriate):

• Initiative: originality, innovativeness of answer
• Assignment Structure: clarity of aims, objective, structure and presentation
• Quality of Writing: Readability and ability to convey key message(s) concisely
• Quality/Scope of Literature Review: Understanding of established knowledge
• Suitability of Literature: Use of suitable sources, focused to answer key research aims
• Literature Analysis: Quality/level of analytical skill demonstrated
• Insightfulness of Analysis: Interest and usefulness of findings, conclusions drawn.
• Understanding: Assignment demonstrates students have understood key topics
• Overall Quality of Assignment

Assignments plans must be submitted by 3pm on Monday 14th March via Turnitin.

The main assignment must be submitted by 3pm on Monday 25th April via Turnitin.

Please note:

• The maximum file size that can be uploaded is 20mb. If your file is larger than this it is usually because you have included a lot of images – you should either remove some if possible, or else convert them to a more efficient format to bring the file size down (e.g. .png or .gif).

• You should ensure your student number is in the title of the filename for the work you submit/upload.

• The School of Management operates a late penalty systems as follows: when work is submitted late with no prior authorisation, a penalty of 10% will be deducted from the actual mark for each calendar day, or part of a day, by which the deadline is exceeded. After seven days from the initial deadline, a mark of zero will be awarded. Late work should be submitted electronically in the usual way.

Digital Submission of Coursework Instructions

• Logon to Blackboard.
• Access the appropriate Module site.
• Click the Assignment menu button which appears on the left of the screen.
• In this folder you will see a file entitled ‘Student Declaration form’. You need to complete this form and incorporate it as the first page of your coursework (not two separate files).

• Click Coursework. Please read the statement of originality before you click “submit”. By submitting work you are agreeing to this statement and confirming it to be true.
• Complete the dialogue box with your forename and surname
• To submit your coursework, locate the correct file on your computer by clicking the “browse” button and enter a title for the coursework (we suggest the module code and your student ID MNB108 123456). Click SUBMIT
• You will then be asked to check if the document is the one you wish to submit and if so click “YES, SUBMIT”
• You will then receive a message saying “paper successfully complete”.
• BLACKBOARD will then send you a confirmation email of submission. Please keep this receipt safe as evidence of your submission.

If you experience any difficulties submitting your work via Turnitin please contact the Student Hub straight away.

An extension to the submission date for coursework can be granted by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee where an application is made in advance of the due date. All applications must be supported by independent evidence e.g. medical circumstances must be supported by a doctor’s certificate. Computing failure is not considered to be an extenuating circumstance, and nor is pressure of work. Students are expected to make backup copies of their work, manage their time efficiently and to meet deadlines. Please see the School’s policy on Extenuating Circumstances for more information. Details of how to make a claim for extenuating circumstances are available from the Student Hub – e-mail and your student handbook.
Notes on Style & Word Count

The length limit for the assignment plan is one side of A4 paper with not smaller than 12-point font. Section headings and bullet points are acceptable – the plan does not have to be in prose but if bullet points are used they must be detailed.

The maximum word limit for the main assignment (excluding references, tables, contents page, footnotes, charts, graphs, figures) is 2500 words. The word count must be stated in the assignment cover sheet.

Students who fail to include a word count, or who include an inaccurate word count will have their mark capped at the pass mark.

Markers will stop marking once the word count limit has been reached, likely leading to a reduced overall mark as key arguments or conclusions will not be included in the marked work. The marker will impose a penalty of a 10% reduction in the total mark for the assignment (e.g. a total mark of 70% would be reduced to 63% if the candidate exceeds the word limit).

Students who submit work that is below the word limit will not be penalised. This is because students will not have taken full advantage of the word limit available to them, which in itself may constitute a penalty.

The assignment should be in extended essay format (ie. use headings/sub-headings). Full academic referencing using the APA (6th Edition) referencing style should be used throughout the assignment. Guideline on how to reference using the APA style can be found at:

APA Referencing Short guide:

APA Referencing Long Guide:

To gain higher marks students are required to show analysis and reflection rather than simple description. They should use multiple sources of academic literature to frame and justify their analysis. All sources should be correctly identified – students are reminded the University enforces strict penalties for plagiarism (up to and including withdrawal from the University).

Correct English spelling and grammar should be used at all times. Assignments should be typed or word processed – hand-written assignments will not be accepted. Students who have been formally diagnosed with specific learning difficulties (SpLD) and assessed by the Disability Office should indicate ‘SpLD’ on the Student Declaration form included with their coursework submission. on the front cover of their coursework before submission.

Feedback Policy

Feedback to the coursework will be provided within three calendar weeks of submission. All feedback for the coursework assignment will be provided through GradeMark. Marks will be made available via Grade Centre in Blackboard and your university student portal. Please note that all marks are provisional until they have been ratified by a progression or award board and are therefore subject to change. Anonymous examples of good and bad practice will be shown in the final week of the module.
School of Management
MN-M532 Operations Management

Module Schedule
Topic Lecture Contents Seminar Contents Key Readings
1/2 Module Introduction

History & Development of Operations Management This session will begin with a brief introduction to the course.

The lecture will then consider the development of the Operations Management discipline and some key, basic concepts including the transformation model and the 4 V’s. This session will begin with an introduction to the course and overview of the module content and assessments.
Slack (7th edition) Chps. 1 and 2; Reid (5th edition) Chp 1; Hill (3rd edition) Chp. 1.

Chopra, S., Deshmukh, S., Van Miegham, J., Zemel E. and Anupindi R. (2005) Managing Business Process Flows: Principles of Operations Management, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Fugate, B.S., and Mentzer, J.T. “Dell’s Supply Chain DNA,” Supply Chain Management Review, 2004, 20-24.

Gouillart, F.J. and Sturdivant, F.D. (1994) ‘Spend a day in the life of your customers’, Harvard Business Review, 72(1): 116-25.
Process Design, Process Improvement & Mapping This session will focus on the area of process design – an important precursor to the effective management of operations.

The link with product/service design will also be introduced, along with ideas concerning the mapping of process flows and approaches to achieving process improvements.
Coursework guidance seminar.
Slack (7th edition) Chps. 4, 18; Reid (5th edition) Chp 3; Hill (3rd edition) Chps.6, 14

Hayes, R.H., and Wheelwright, S.C. “Link Manufacturing Process and Product Life Cycles,” Harvard Business Review, 57, January-February 1979, 133-140.

Hill, T. Manufacturing Strategy: Text and Cases, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Holweg, M. and Pil, F.K. (2001) ‘Successful build to order strategies start with the customer’, MIT Sloan Management Review, 43 (1): 74-84.
15/2 Capacity Planning
Part I

The following two sessions will consider key planning aspects of managing processes, looking at the two related areas of capacity and inventory management (covered in week 5).

Coursework guidance seminar.
Slack (7th edition) Chps. 11, 12; Reid (5th edition) Chps 9, 12; Hill (3rd edition) Chps. 8, 10.

Chopra, S. and Lariviere, M.A. (2005) ‘Managing service inventory to improve performance’. MIT Sloan Management Review, 47 (1), pp.56-63.

Olhager, J., Rudberg, M. and Wikner, (2001) Long-term capacity management: linking the perspectives from manufacturing strategy sales and operations planning, International Journal of Production Economics, vol.69, issue 2, 215-225.

Vollmann, T., Berry, W., Whybark, D.C., and Jacobs, F.R. (2004) Manufacturing Planning and Control Systems for Supply Chain Management: The Definitive Guide for Professionals, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, New York.
Capacity Planning
Part II

Final coursework guidance seminar.
As above.
Inventory Management The relationship between decisions made in both the areas of capacity and the related area of inventory management will be considered, as the broad issue of reconciling capacity and demand is looked into. Decision Tree, Factor rating and Capacity Utilisation exercises.
Reid, chp 12 , Slack, chp 12.
Aggregate Planning This session continues to look at the area of planning, specifically the different ways in which production plans can be managed (aggregate planning).
Inventory management exercise. Reid, chp 13, Sales and Operations Planning.
Layout and Flow Planning This session will look at the related areas of layout and flow and is concerned with the best physical arrangement of all resources that consume space within a facility. Aggregate planning exercise. Reid, chp 10, Slack, chp 7.


Lean Operations This session will look at the philosophy of ‘Lean’ or JIT systems – the dominant new model of operations and organisational design in both manufacturing and service industries. The core beliefs and key elements of lean delivery will be considered in comparison with traditional manufacturing techniques (Push vs. Pull).

Other aspects of the approach will also be examined, including its vulnerability under to system ‘shocks’. Assignment plan Q&A’s and progress reporting in advance of assignment submissions. Slack (7th edition) Chp. 15; Reid (5th edition) Chp 7; Hill (3rd edition) Chp. 9.

Bicheno, J. and Holweg, M. (2009) The Lean Toolbox: The Essential Guide to Lean Transformation, 4th edn, Picsie Press, Buckingham, England.

Davenport, T.H. and Glaser, J. (2002) ‘Just-in-time-delivery comes to knowledge management’, Harvard Business Review, 80 (7): 107-11.

Holweg, M. (2007) The genealogy of lean production, Journal of Operations Management, vol.25, 420-437.

Liker, J. (2003) The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, McGraw-Hill Education, New York.

Womack, J.P., Jones, D.T. and Roos,D. (1990) The Machine that Changed the World, Rawson Associates, New York.

18/4 Supply Chain Management This session serves to introduce the concept of a typical supply chain and how operations are linked together between firms.

An undesirable but common side-effect of poor information exchange within supply chains (The Bullwhip Effect), is also introduced.

Exercises for designing lean systems. Slack (7th edition) Chp. 13; Reid (5th edition) Chp 4; Hill (3rd edition) Chp. 12.

Chopra, S. and Meindl, P. (2009) Supply Chain Management, 4th edn, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Christopher, M. (2011) Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Creating Value-Adding Networks, FT Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Lee, H.L. (2004) ‘The triple-A supply chain’, Harvard Business Review, 82(10): 102-12.

Schlegel, G.L., and Smith, R.C. The Next Stage of Supply Chain Excellence,’ Supply Chain Management Review, March 1, 2006.
Service Operations & Service Quality This session will introduce and define the service sector, highlight its importance, discuss its relation to product operations and the challenges of service fulfilment versus product fulfilment. Worked mock examination Johnston, R., Clark, G. and Shulver, M. Service Operations Management: Improving Service Delivery (4th edition) Chp 1 and 12.

Johnston, R. (2005). Service operations management: from the roots up. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. 25, 12, pp1298-1308.

Johnston, R., Clark, G. and Shulver, M. Service Operations Management: Improving Service Delivery (4th edition) Chp 13

Johnston, R., and Michel, S. (2008), Three outcomes of service recovery: customer recovery, process recovery and employee recovery. International Journal of Operations & Production Management. 28, 1, pp. 79-99.

McColl-Kennedy, J.R. and Sparks, B.A. (2003). Application of Fairness Theory to Service Failures and Service Recovery. Journal of Service Research. 5, 3, pp. 251-66.

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